Photoshopped images of Kyrie Irving wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey have gone viral, but the team is going to find it challenging to create a trade package that has any appeal to the Brooklyn Nets. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst shot down the notion that the Nets would consider a trade for Irving that centers around Russell Westbrook and future draft picks.
“As I’m already seeing people suggest trades, you have to realize that No. 1, the Nets have Ben Simmons as their point guard and he’s coming off surgery and the assumption is he will be able to play,” Windhorst explained during a June 21 episode of “The Hoop Collective” podcast. “…That means that they have a point guard on their roster already who isn’t a good shooter, so, No. 1 you have to keep that in mind. No. 2, they have Kevin Durant on their team. Kevin Durant expects to compete for championships, so if the core of what you think you’re trading to the Nets is like future draft picks, I’m not sure that’s going to get it done, because then you could have Kevin Durant saying, ‘What are we doing here?’ And then you have Kevin Durant asking for a trade.
“I’m saying that mostly for the folks who are like, ‘Trade Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks.’ Well, it does work in the trade machine, I’ll give you that, but Russell Westbrook doesn’t help the Nets and the two first-round picks might be nice in three years, but they don’t have much value now, at least for a player that can help them.”
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The Nets Would Only Consider a Lakers Deal Involving AD: Report
Windhorst later added that the only Lakers deal the Nets would consider for Irving center around Anthony Davis. The NBA insider noted that the Lakers have ruled out dealing Davis this offseason. If the Lakers are unwilling to trade Davis, the team’s chances to land Irving appear to be diminishing.
“The only trade that I think makes sense that the Nets I think would do with the Lakers would be for Anthony Davis,” Windhorst remarked. “Let me just say that I’ve investigated that, and I do not see that trade happening. What I suspect will happen based on what I know today, and that could change in 24 hours or 72 hours, what I suspect will happen is that Kyrie will stay with the Nets on a short deal that not everybody is happy with but will bring that team back together.
The Lakers Likely Need Kyrie to Opt-in to Final Year of Current Deal
The question is how much leverage Irving can create if he wants to attempt to force his way to Los Angeles. For salary cap purposes, the Lakers’ best chance of landing Irving would be for the superstar to opt in to the final year of his current contract. Yet, Irving loses any leverage by doing this as the Nets would have no urgency to trade the guard. The Lakers could attempt to pull off a sign-and-trade if Irving becomes a free agent, but this would hard cap Los Angeles.
The Lakers rumors began to heat up after The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on June 20 that L.A. was among the top contenders to add Irving this offseason. Charania described Irving’s talks with the Nets as at an “impasse”.
“For the Lakers, the likely path to acquire Irving — and reunite him with LeBron James — would be Irving opting in to facilitate a trade, because the Lakers cannot realistically clear cap space to sign him themselves, and a sign-and-trade would trigger the hard cap, thus making acquiring Irving significantly more difficult,” Charania wrote. “If Irving would opt in, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka would have to satisfy the collective bargaining agreement’s salary-matching rules, meaning if Irving’s $36.6 million was the only incoming salary, the Lakers could send anywhere from $29.3 million to $45.8 million to the Nets and/or a third team in a legal transaction.”