Lakers ‘Most Significant Threat’ to Steal 7-Time All-Star from Title Contender: Report

Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

Getty Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers are considered the “most significant threat” to land Kyrie Irving if he leaves the Brooklyn Nets this summer, according to a June 22 report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on June 20 that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star and one-time champion to consider the open market and the Lakers are anticipated to be among the interested suitors if Irving leaves the Nets.

“The Lakers are considered the most significant threat right now for Kyrie Irving, but that would essentially entail him taking $30 million less than he can opt into in Brooklyn,” Wojnarowski said on June 22. “There’s a $6 million taxpayer exemption he can sign with the Lakers with. Now, most people would say a player is not going to give up that much money, but Kyrie Irving gave up nearly $17 million last year because of his refusal to get vaccinated. He lost a significant shoe deal with Nike.”

Irving has a June 29 deadline on his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The Nets are hesitant to sign the three-time All-NBA guard to a long-term deal.

Irving Has Had Contact with LeBron James

According to a June 22 report from Marc Stein of Substack, Irving has had recent contact with Lakers superstar LeBron James. James and Irving played in three consecutive Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, 2016 and 2017, winning the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.

“There are credible rumblings in circulation that Irving, for starters, has indeed had some recent contact with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, his former Cleveland teammate, to presumably discuss a potential reunion in Hollywood,” Stein reported.

Charania told Pat McAfee on the June 20 episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” that James and Irving still have a good relationship despite what transpired in the summer of 2017. Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he supposedly no longer wanted to play with James.

“Yeah, I mean, I think Kyrie said it openly as far as his public comments about LeBron and I think a lot has been made about their relationship, especially the way Kyrie Irving left the Cavaliers, the way that Kyrie Irving left the Cavs as far as asking out and ending up in Boston. There was a lot made about their relationship, but, you know, sources have told me that was never a fractured relationship,” Charania said. “It’s always been a dialogue that has existed between those two. And so that is of course gonna be a factor in all of this.”

How Can Lakers Get Irving if He Doesn’t Become a Free Agent

Per Charania’s June 20 report, Irving would likely have to pick up his 2022-23 player option and request a trade to the Lakers, who can’t sign the talented point guard as a free agent — unless he’s willing to take a $30 million pay cut — or acquire him via a sign-and-trade deal due to their cap situation.

“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.”

Ian Begley of SNY reported in May that individuals in the Lakers organization had internal discussions to acquire Irving from the Nets at the beginning of the 2021-22 season. Irving, 30, averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the 29 games he appeared in.

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