The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged to make a “push” to acquire an eight-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer this summer.
Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley wrote on May 5 that the Lakers should go after Kyrie Irving this offseason and try to sign the point guard once unrestricted free agency starts. Since Irving played with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17, the Duke product has been heavily linked to the Lakers.
“Because the Lakers pivoted away from an Irving deal and into swaps that brought back more players, their championship plan involves following two stars (James and Anthony Davis) and surrounding them with depth. It looks fine when everyone has it rolling, but it doesn’t give James or Davis much wiggle room,” Buckley wrote. “Not to mention, this setup might already be uncomfortably close to its expiration date, since James is 38 years old and sometimes (relatively) showing his age. Adding Irving to the mix would change everything. It would not only give the Lakers the NBA’s next (and best?) Big Three, it would give them some insurance if a star misses time to injury and potentially widen their window. The more L.A. could lean on Irving, the less it would have to rely on James, who could be more selective and better rested for major moments.
“As things stand, the Lakers are toast whenever James shows not insignificant decline. All due respect to D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, but they aren’t filling the void James would leave if he took a step back or two. Irving absolutely could, though. No one would characterize his 2022-23 campaign as the best of his career—his 22.4 player efficiency rating was only his sixth-highest, per Basketball Reference—and he still notched 27.1 points per night on 49.4/37.9/90.5 shooting with 5.5 assists against 2.1 turnovers. His talent level is towering.”
“I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land such a talent, but someone that I had great chemistry with,” James told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon in February. “And know I got great chemistry with on the floor, that can help you win championships, in my mind, in my eyes.”
Buckley: Kyrie Irving’s Limited Market Might Open the Door for the Lakers
Buckley thinks Irving’s limited market in free agency might open the door for the Lakers to get him. The Mavericks went only 8-12 with Irving in the lineup and didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament.
“If the Lakers have to clear out max (or near-max) money to add Irving, they might have to gut their roster around James and Davis. That would be less than ideal. But what if Irving’s price tag isn’t quite as high as that? After all, if the Lakers truly aren’t interested in him, he may not have a market outside of the Dallas Mavericks,” Buckley wrote. “Few teams have significant cap space this summer. Even fewer have both money to spend and win-now intentions. What would the Houston Rockets or San Antonio Spurs get out of bringing Irving to town in the middle of their rebuilds? Absolutely nothing. So, it’s possible this could just be a two-team race between the Mavericks and Lakers, so why would L.A. bow out of it months before it even starts? Is Dallas definitely going to pay him top dollar? Does Irving definitely want to run it back with a team that fell apart as soon as he arrived? It’s hard to say either with any certainty, which is why it should also be impossible to say for certain the Lakers shouldn’t give Irving serious consideration this summer.”
Irving averaged 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 60 games with the Nets and Mavericks this season. He attended Game 6 between the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies on April 28 and interacted with James.
Report: The Lakers Are Disinterested in Pursuing Kyrie Irving
“Of course, there’s nothing notable about an out-of-season basketball player attending a basketball game in the city known as this league’s summer home,” Cato wrote. “And no matter how close Irving might be to James, the Lakers are uninterested in pursuing him in free agency, say league sources, who like all unnamed sources in this article were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. To acquire him would require jettisoning several deadline acquisitions who have helped revitalize their season and land them in a second-round series against the Golden State Warriors.”
The Lakers could change their tune on Irving once the playoffs end, especially if D’Angelo Russell doesn’t play well. Like Irving, Russell becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.