The Dallas Mavericks understood the risks of trading for Kyrie Irving ahead of this season’s trade deadline. With Irving’s contract set to expire at the end of the season, the Mavs’ move could very well blow up in their face. Should the 31-year-old decide to walk this summer, then Dallas will be left with nothing to show for the arrangement of rotation pieces and draft picks that they sent to the Brooklyn Nets.
One team that has been heavily rumored as a potential landing spot for Uncle Drew, is the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, anonymous league sources that spoke to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha don’t see Irving reuniting with LeBron James in L.A. this offseason.
“The Lakers are unlikely to pursue Irving in free agency this summer, according to multiple league sources granted anonymity so they could speak freely,” Buha reported. “As of now, the organization’s plan is to run things back with most, if not all, of their free agents.”
Lakers Would Have to Gut Roster to Land Mavs’ Irving
Buha went on to explain that the Lakers would have difficulty maintaining the roster that they worked to build at the deadline, if they were to bring in Kyrie.
“The reason: Choosing Irving would essentially force the Lakers to punt on their trade deadline additions. To create cap space, they would need to renounce the free-agent rights of (D’Angelo) Russell and Rui Hachimura, decline a team option on (Malik) Beasley and waive (Jarred) Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba. (Vanderbilt’s 2023-24 contract is partially guaranteed, while Bamba’s is fully unguaranteed.) The Lakers could technically keep (Austin) Reaves (due to his $2.1 million cap hold) and/or Vanderbilt (because of his small $4.7 million contract), but that would require persuading Irving to take an even steeper pay cut.
Mavs Would Likely Receive D’Angelo Russell for Kyrie Irving
Buha circled back to the idea of Los Angeles gutting their roster in order to land the All-Star guard. He explained that Dallas would likely receive Russell as well as much more in a hypothetical sign-and-trade for Irving.
“Irving is undoubtedly a much better player than Russell. He’s a legitimate star who easily ranks as a top-15 player in the league at his apex. He’s what the Lakers hoped they’d be getting from (Russell) Westbrook. But the Lakers wouldn’t simply be swapping Russell for Irving in this scenario. They must decide if Irving is a better option than Russell and most, if not all, of the other free agents.”
He later explained that the Lakers likely won’t have interest in such a substantial move, as a lack of depth plagued them throughout the first half of this season.
“Perhaps that trade-off is worth it. But if they make it, the Lakers would only have the taxpayer midlevel exception available to them. Their roster would look something like James, (Anthony) Davis, Irving, possibly Reaves or Vanderbilt (unlikely both unless Irving is taking a steep pay cut), Max Christie and their midlevel signing. That’s the foundation of an interesting top-heavy roster, but the Lakers would once again lack depth, which notably hurt them during the 2021-22 season and the first half of 2022-23.”