Lakers Named Among Favorites to Land 7-Time All-Star & NBA Champion

Lakers exec Rob Pelinka


Many pundits believe the Los Angeles Lakers need a new starting point guard next season since Russell Westbrook was a poor fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis in 2021-22.

Some oddsmakers believe the purple and gold could be a favorite to land seven-time All-Star and one-time champion Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets this offseason.

“Odds have also surfaced on potential Kyrie Irving destinations if he doesn’t stay in Brooklyn,” Lakers Nation writer Ryan Ward tweeted on May 18, citing odds from SportsBetting.Ag.

Oddsmakers gave the Lakers the fourth-best odds, at +700, to acquire Irving if he declines his $36.5 million player option and becomes an unrestricted free agent. Irving played with James for three seasons on the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning an NBA title in 2016.

Lakers Discussed Trade to Acquire Irving

The Lakers had internal discussions about trading for Irving last season as he sat idle in the wake of refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a May 6 story by Ian Begley of SNY. Irving didn’t make his 2021-22 debut until January.

“Several outlets, including SNY, reported that the Nets had been open to talking to teams about potential Irving trades during that time,” Begley reported. “Obviously, nothing came to fruition. But some members of the Lakers organization discussed the possibility of trading for Irving during that stretch of the season, sources say.”

Nets general manager Sean Marks sounded noncommittal when he was asked about Irving’s future in Brooklyn during his May 11 exit interview. Irving has played in only 103 regular-season games with the Nets since signing with the franchise in the summer of 2019.

“We need people here that want to be here,” Marks said. “They’re selfless. That want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and there’s an objective and there’s a goal at stake here, and in order to do that, we’re going to need availability from everybody.

“Look, I think that’s something we’ve been discussing and we will continue to debrief on and discuss throughout this offseason. It’s honestly not just Kyrie. You bring Kyrie up, but we have decisions to make on a variety of different free agents throughout our roster. We haven’t had any of those discussions yet, so it would be unfair for me to comment on how it looks with us and Kyrie because, to be quite frank, he has some decisions to make on his own.”

James Tried to Get Irving to Lakers in 2019

According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, James recruited Irving to the Lakers in the summer of 2019. Of course, Irving signed with the Nets.

“A couple of years ago when Kyrie was headed to free agency, LeBron James was interested in trying to recruit him to the Los Angeles Lakers,” Windhorst said on May 18. “And he reached and attempted to mend fences. It lasted for a short time. When Kyrie didn’t choose the Lakers, their relationship went away again.”

According to Fanspo’s trade machine, the Lakers could trade Westbrook to the Nets for Irving and Kessler Edwards under CBA rules this summer. That trade can only happen if both Westbrook and Irving pick up their player options.

Keith Smith of Spotrac wrote that it would be a “complete shock” if Westbrook didn’t pick up his player option worth $47.1 million for next season.

The Lakers need more shooters and playmakers around James and Davis and Irving fits that bill. Irving is a far better fit next to James than Westbrook is since he can shoot from the perimeter. Irving is a career 39.3% shooter from beyond the arc, while Westbrook is at 30.5%.

A California native, Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers and his effective field goal percentage of 47.6% was sixth-worst in the league in 2021-22.

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