Kyrie Irving is no longer a lock to return to the Brooklyn Nets in 2022-23. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star and one-time champion to consider the open market.
Irving has a June 29 deadline on his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers are expected to be among the interested suitors if Irving leaves the Nets, per Charania.
Lakers superstar LeBron James and Irving were teammates for three seasons on the Cleveland Cavaliers. They played in three consecutive Finals, winning the 2016 title over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.
However, in the summer of 2017, Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he supposedly no longer wanted to play with James. Cleveland traded Irving to the Boston Celtics and it was widely assumed that Uncle Drew and the King had a fractured relationship.
James and Irving, though, patched things up in January 2019 when the latter called the former to apologize for the way he handled criticism in Cleveland. Charania told Pat McAfee on the June 20 episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” that the two champions never had a bad relationship.
“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
According to Charania, 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 guard as a free agent 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.
NBA Champ Thinks Lakers Should Trade Anthony Davis for Irving
Kendrick Perkins, who won the 2008 championship with the Celtics, said in May that the Lakers should trade Anthony Davis to the Nets for Irving. Davis has only played in 76 regular-season games since helping Los Angeles win the 2020 title.
“Listen here. If I’m the Lakers, right, I would consider trading Anthony Davis for Kyrie Irving,” Perkins said. “I think that it’s time for both franchises — the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets — to get a new change, okay. Both of ’em. And I think the players need a new change. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kyrie Irving back with LeBron James, a guy that he went to Finals with and won the championship. Had one of the greatest runs to a championship in NBA history.”