A seven-time All-Star has been predicted to sign an $80 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers next summer.
In an October 20th piece called “Season Predictions for NBA’s Top Stars In Contract Years,” Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes predicted that Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving would sign a two-year, $80 million deal with the Lakers once the 2023 free agency period starts. The All-NBA guard becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“Fortunately, the Los Angeles Lakers have only four players under contract in 2023-24 and could sign Irving to a deal worth upwards of $30 million per season in free agency. They kicked the tires on Irving over the summer and may be the only team desperate enough for high-end talent to commit to someone who has spent the last several years constantly reinforcing the narrative that he cannot be relied upon,” Hughes wrote. “Irving will play out this year with the Nets and then land with the Lakers on a two-year deal totaling roughly $80 million with a player option on the second season.”
The Lakers only have LeBron James ($46.9 million), Anthony Davis ($40.6 million) and Max Christie ($1.7 million) under contract for the 2023-24 season. With the salary cap projected to be $134 million, Los Angeles could create upwards of $30 million to $35 million in cap space.
Irving Has Been Heavily Linked to the Lakers
Irving, 30, has been heavily linked to the Lakers. The purple and gold tried to acquire the Duke product this past offseason, with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reporting in July that Los Angeles and Brooklyn were actively engaged in discussions on a trade package that would have sent Russell Westbrook to the Nets and Irving to the Lakers.
However, after the Nets announced in August that two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant — who requested a trade — would not be traded, Irving was removed from the trade block.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith created headlines when he said that “Kyrie’s planning on going to Los Angeles” on the October 12th episode of “NBA Countdown.” Irving and James played in 183 regular-season games together on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17, compiling a record of 132-51. The two All-Stars also went 39-13 in the playoffs and guided the Cavaliers to the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.
“Kyrie’s not re-signing with Brooklyn,” Smith said. “Kyrie’s planning on going to Los Angeles. He’s trying to go to Los Angeles. That’s what he was trying to do over the summer. That’s what he’s trying to do now. He knows that he’s gotta get through this season. Whether they win or lose, Kyrie is pretty much gone.”
Lakers Will Pursue Irving; They Also Think He’ll Sign With Them
The Lakers will pursue Irving next offseason, an anonymous NBA executive told Heavy.com insider Sean Deveney. Irving not only won a title with James, but he also was teammates with Davis on the 2014 FIBA World Cup team and has a rapport with Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy.
“No matter what they do with trades or however they reconstruct this year, they are going to keep an eye on next summer,” the exec told Deveney. “That is where they have a lot invested, being able to get another star-type player next summer. They’re going to look at Kyrie Irving, of course, but he is probably not their top choice. They will look at Jerami Grant, who they liked for a long time. Same with Myles Turner. I think Andrew Wiggins would be a big prize there because he can play two ways.”
The Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season, believe Irving will sign with them next summer, according to an August 23rd report from Alex Schiffer of The Athletic: “You talk to people over in Los Angeles, they still really feel like Kyrie is coming to them next year,” Schiffer said on “The Athletic NBA Show” podcast. “I’m curious to see how that goes over with recent events.”
Irving has career averages of 23.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists with the Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Nets. The 2011-12 Rookie of the Year averaged 22.1 points and 5.3 assists in 183 games alongside James in Cleveland.