Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has done a decent job retooling the roster. But one of the biggest misses of the summer was another failed attempt by the Lakers to reunite LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie signed a 3-year, $120 million deal this summer to remain with the Dallas Mavericks. And LeBron won’t become a free agent until 2025. But on the August 4 episode of “The Athletic NBA Show” insiders Jovan Buha and Sam Amick said that a reunion between the two superstars may still be in the cards.
“LeBron has potentially been very keen on playing with Kyrie again. I would not be surprised if this trade rumor pops up again, closer to the trade deadline, depending on what happens at Dallas,” they said.
LeBron Wanted Reunion With Kyrie Last Season
Put aside what the state of LeBron and Kyrie’s personal relationship is. The fact is that when the two were teammates in Cleveland, they were one of the most unstoppable forces that the NBA had ever seen, appearing in three consecutive NBA Finals as co-stars. Before last season, Buha reported that LeBron felt Kyrie was the missing piece the Lakers needed to get over the hump.
“Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic,” Buha said.
“There was a belief among some that James might refrain from signing the extension quickly as a leverage play. James could’ve twisted the Lakers’ proverbial arm, applying pressure to make a trade, similar to the way he has operated in the past. Instead, he committed for at least the next two seasons, regardless of if the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook or how they fare this season.”
Kyrie Clears Air on Beef With LeBron
After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, Irving abruptly requested a trade from the Cavaliers. Multiple reports suggested he demanded a trade because he no longer wanted to play in LeBron’s shadow.
To pour even more salt in the wound, in 2020, Irving did an interview, praising Kevin Durant for his ability to hit big shots in clutch moments. But LeBron took exception to Kyrie’s praise for Durant, as it was perceived by many as a shot at the Lakers star.
During a May 2022 interview on Boardroom’s “The ETCs” podcast, Kyrie attempted to shed light on the drama between him and LeBron. Irving reiterated that his comments were not a shot at LeBron, emphasizing that he “respected the hell” out of his former Cavaliers teammate.
“Shout out to LeBron, you know what I mean. He felt like I was slighting him, and I would never slight him in a way that would probably make him go and have to respond to things like that, you know what I mean? I respected the hell out of him. We’ve been through our own battles as teammates, as competitors together. So, like that’s all part of it, bro,” Irving said to Eddie Gonzalez on “The ETCs.”