The Los Angeles Lakers discussed making a blockbuster trade earlier this season and it would have reunited LeBron James with one of his former teammates.
According to Ian Begley of SNY, people in the Lakers organization had internal discussions to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets. Irving and James were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17.
“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.”
Irving didn’t make his season debut for the Nets until January since he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Brooklyn made a collaborative decision not to have Irving be a part-time player to begin the season. However, the franchise changed its stance.
The Lakers made zero trades during the season. They tried to trade mercurial point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Talen Horton-Tucker at the trade deadline, but general manager Rob Pelinka couldn’t strike a deal.
James & Irving Won Title Together in 2016
James and Irving were a dangerous duo for the Cavaliers. They played in three Finals together and led Cleveland to the 2016 title over the Golden State Warriors.
The Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals and James and Irving were unstoppable in the seven-game series.
James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the 2016 Finals. He won his third Finals MVP and brought a championship to his hometown. Meanwhile, Irving averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He hit the game-winning 3-pointer over Stephen Curry in Game 7 and scored 41 points in Game 5. James also had 41 points in Game 5.
The Lakers would have become a lethal offensive team had they paired Irving next to James and Anthony Davis. Uncle Drew can space the floor, unlike Westbrook, and he’s one of the best ball-handlers and finishers at the rim in NBA history.
According to Fanspo’s trade machine, the Lakers could trade Westbrook to the Nets for Irving and Kessler Edwards under CBA rules this summer. Both Westbrook and Irving have player options for the 2022-23 season.
Nets Would Never Do This Trade
Kevin Durant and Irving are best friends. They chose to play for the Nets together in the summer of 2019 and their relationship hasn’t changed even though Brooklyn hasn’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs.
Irving is a far more efficient player than Westbrook, who was second in the NBA in turnovers this season and shot 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The Nets would get worse on offense if they trade Irving for Westbrook since the latter is a liability from the perimeter.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Lakers and Westbrook have mutual interest in parting ways this summer. However, since Irving will be a full-time player next season after vaccine mandates were lifted and has expressed a desire to remain with the Nets, the Lakers probably won’t be able to trade Westbrook for James’ former teammate.