The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a monumental promise to superstar LeBron James.
According to an August 18th report from Marc Stein of Substack, James has been assured that the Lakers are willing to trade both of their available future first-round picks in 2027 and 2029.
“L.A. has nonetheless pledged to James that it will indeed continue to aggressively pursue upgrades,” Stein reported. “League sources say James, in fact, has been assured that the Lakers are willing to trade both of their available future first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 if a trade that costs them both picks can realistically position the Lakers to return to contender status.”
James officially signed his two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers on August 18th. The extension includes a player option for the 2024-25 season and has a 15% trade kicker.
James Wants Kyrie Irving
James wants the Lakers to trade for Brooklyn Nets All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, according to an August 17th report from Jovan Buha of The Athletic. James and Irving played three seasons together on the Cleveland Cavaliers and won the 2016 title over the Golden State Warriors.
“Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles,” Buha reported. “The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.”
James and Irving appeared in 183 regular-season games together on the Cavaliers, compiling a stellar record of 132-51. The two All-Stars also went 39-13 in the playoffs. The Lakers could compete for the title next season if they acquired Irving, who is a better shooter than Russell Westbrook. Irving is a career 39.3% shooter from beyond the arc, while Westbrook is at 30.5%.
“Kyrie’s fit in L.A. probably doesn’t require much analysis. He and LeBron won a title together in 2016,” Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey wrote on July 22nd. “He can shoot, which is the biggest differentiator between him and Westbrook. And he’s almost four years younger than Westbrook, too. Even with whatever off-court concerns may come with Kyrie, replacing Russ with him feels like a no-brainer.”
Westbrook Knows James Wants Irving
Stein reported on July 29th that Westbrook is aware of James’ desire to play with Irving, whose future with the Nets is unknown since Kevin Durant has requested a trade.
“As it stands, barring a trade to ship out Westbrook suddenly coalescing after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham is going to have to coach Westbrook, which is bound to be challenging in the extreme given that Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers have been trying hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James badly wants Irving to take his place.”
Westbrook started 78 games for the Lakers last season. The nine-time All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers and had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage, making him a poor fit next to James and Anthony Davis.
Irving, who will make $36.5 million next season, appeared in 29 games for the Nets last season and averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Duke product didn’t make his 2021-22 season debut until January because he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
A three-time All-NBA guard, Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers in 2017 because he reportedly no longer wanted to play with James. However, Shams Charania of The Athletic told Pat McAfee on the June 20th episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” that the two champions still have a good relationship.