LeBron James Pressures Lakers Front Office With Blunt Kyrie Irving Trade Message

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

Getty LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets.

The Los Angeles Lakers have some important decisions to make ahead of the February 9 trade deadline. And with Kyrie Irving requesting a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, they now likely have a new top priority. 

After the Lakers’ February 4 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, LeBron James was asked about the potential move. He tried to keep things diplomatic but admitted that adding a player of Irving’s caliber would obviously help. By diverting questions back to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, could James pressure the Lakers into making a move?

“That’s a Rob question,” James said via Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “You got to see him when y’all get back to LA. Told y’all a couple of weeks ago I don’t speak for our front office. My mindset is to, you know, whatever lineup or whatever group that we have is to make sure we prepare ourselves the best way we can to go out and win. Obviously, that’s a, what’s the word you use – ‘duh’ question when you’re talking about a player like that.”

James and Irving played together for three years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the highlight of their run together obviously being their NBA Championship in 2016, when they came back from down 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors.

Irving has spent the past three seasons as a member of the Nets, but injury and off-the-court decisions have prevented him from consistently playing in games. Now, with Brooklyn hesitant to hand him a long-term contract extension, he wants to move on to his next team.

Despite the clear question marks surrounding his overall reliability, Irving has been putting up great numbers this year. He has appeared in 40 of the team’s 52 games and is playing 37.0 minutes per contest. Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game on 48.6% shooting from the floor and 37.4% shooting from behind the three-point line.

Kyrie Irving Value Lower Than Expected

Despite being one of the most talented point guards in the NBA, there’s a general belief that Irving’s value isn’t as high as most believe. According to Andscape’s Marc J. Spears, the Nets will likely be looking at getting expiring contracts and/or role players in exchange for Irving.

“I’ve been speaking to six different general managers today, and four of them said that Kyrie had little value, that they thought that maybe they could get some expiring contracts or some role players for him. Of the teams that they mention that could have interest, there was [the] Dallas [Mavericks], [the] Lakers, [the] Miami [Heat] and even the Chicago Bulls.”

Lakers Unwilling to Trade Reaves or Christie

In addition, the Lakers have reportedly set their own boundaries regarding a potential trade for Irving. According to Buha, the Lakers are unwilling to include Austin Rivers or Max Christie in a trade for Irving.

“Given Irving’s on-court pedigree and play this season, the Lakers would almost certainly have to include both first-round picks,” Buha wrote. “Protecting one of those picks could result in the Nets asking for the Lakers to perhaps include Austin Reaves or Max Christie, two of the Lakers’ promising young role players. But the Lakers aren’t interested in including either in a potential package, according to those sources.”

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