Kyrie Irving continues to discuss his relationship with LeBron James this offseason, which has sparked some Los Angeles Lakers rumors given his potential free-agent status. Irving and James have been candid about their rocky relationship during their time as Cavaliers teammates, but the Nets star is doing his part to patch things up. During a May 16, 2022 interview on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast, Irving joked that he would be with the Lakers now if he never requested a trade from the Cavaliers in 2017.
“I’d probably be in L.A. right now,” Irving noted. “I’d probably be traveling with his backpack. Nah, I’m joking, man. That was a time in my career that I look back on, and we’ve had conversations, me and Bron, plenty of conversations. …That’s my dog, shout out to Bron, man.
“…So, I was learning on the fly. When he first came back [to the Cavs] I was 22, 23, so I was just a young kid trying to help Cleveland patch up their relationship with him. I got drafted the year after [LeBron signed with the Heat], so when I came in, it was like, ‘Are you going to be better than LeBron? Are you?’ That was my first question when I got into Cleveland. So, it was mixed emotions the whole time that we were competitors and then when he came back as my teammate, when he came back to Cleveland, that’s his home.
“…I definitely feel like me learning from him helped accelerate my understanding of the game that we’re in, the business that we’re in. Because I was watching him deal with it in front of the camera, off the camera. Being LeBron James, that comes with its own responsibility.”
Here is a look at the full enlightening interview with Irving.
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Kyrie Confirmed That LeBron Is Heavily Involved in Building the Roster
Irving went on to refer to James as a “savant” and a “genius” on the basketball court. The Nets superstar has a player option that allows him to become a free agent this offseason. If Irving does not opt out, the Nets guard would have a $36.5 million salary for the 2022-23 season in Brooklyn.
There is the potential for James and Irving to both be free agents in 2023. This scenario would play out if James does not sign a contract extension this offseason, and Irving declines to become a free agent.
Irving gushed about playing with James in Cleveland admitting that 2015 was “one of my best years.” The Nets guard also got candid about James’ hands-on role in helping the Cavs front office construct the roster, noting that his nickname of “LeGM” is indeed factual.
“When me and him clicked in 2015, I had one of my best years,” Irving explained. “I was All-NBA third team, shot a high percentage from the field. We were going back and forth as a one-two punch and then we had K-Love [Kevin Love], Tristan [Thompson], J.R. [Smith], Shump [Iman Shumpert]. We had players, we had hoopers, bro.
“Bron was like behind the scenes, what’s his nickname, they like call him ‘LeGM’? …He put the squad together. I wasn’t mad at him. I wasn’t mad at him. I was like, alright, bet. So this is how this is how it goes.”
Could Kyrie Join LeBron on the Lakers?
Irving has gone out of his way in multiple offseason interviews to praise James. The two stars had a public spat in 2020 when James admitted he felt slighted by Irving’s comments about Kevin Durant’s clutch genes. Irving went on to take some of the blame for the friction when the two were Cleveland teammates, noting he was going through things in his life away from basketball.
“So, we definitely, I feel, would have accomplished a lot more, but again we go back to climbing at that mountain,” Irving added. “And when I was going through some of my trials and learning about who I was, it was a lot harder to reconnect to everybody, again, because I had a lot of questions about the world.
“What was my place in the world? Not what was my place in the basketball realm, you know. I could be the greatest point guard, [this and that], to be skilled and I was focused on that for a majority of my basketball life. I just wanted to be one of the best to play, but when I started having questions about my life outside of this, it started to seep in and I was becoming misunderstood.”
All this is sure to have Lakers fans dreaming of seeing Irving team up with James in Los Angeles. Even if Irving opts out this offseason, the Lakers do not have the cap space needed to sign the guard and would have to facilitate a sign-and-trade with the Nets. The only deal that makes sense for both teams is swapping Anthony Davis for Irving, and it remains to be seen if James would sign off on trading his Klutch Sports friend.