The NBA rumor mill is starting to heat up ahead of draft night and the Los Angeles Lakers are at the center of much of the conversation. While Russell Westbrook has been involved in rumors for half of a year now, there’s a new guard who is getting linked to the team. Recently, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been the talk of Los Angeles.
The seven-time All-Star is at an “impasse” with the Nets on a new contract, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. That has opened the door for the guard to change teams. The Lakers are an interesting possibility as Irving and LeBron James had a lot of success together then they were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning a championship in 2016.
Irving is from the East Coast and grew up a Nets fan so he’s in his ideal situation. However, it’s been a rocky three years in Brooklyn and he could have regrets about leaving LeBron. Going on the opposite side of the country and playing for the Lakers could be the reset to his career that he needs. Though the two had an ugly breakup, LeBron appears to be on board with a reunion.
According to NBA Insider Marc Stein, the Lakers star has spoken to Irving about possibly joining up in Los Angeles but it’s far from a guarantee that it will happen.
“There are credible rumblings in circulation that Irving, for starters, has indeed had some recent contact with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, … I’m told it would be a stretch, though, to suggest that the Lakers are currently pursuing Irving,” Stein wrote.
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How Could Lakers Pull This Off?
If Irving doesn’t want to be a Net anymore, the Lakers have two options: sign him in free agency or trade for him. Unless they are willing to give up Anthony Davis, it’s unlikely that a trade will happen as Brooklyn won’t want anything to do with Westbrook. Unless the Lakers can find a team willing to take on the guard’s salary, the only way to sign Irving outright is if he was willing to take a mid-level exception contract with Los Angeles.
If he did that, he would stand to lose up to $30 million in annual salary. It’s hard to fathom Irving would do that but he’s not the most predictable player in the NBA.
Irving to L.A. Is a Pipe Dream
At the end of the day, these rumors are most likely a negotiating tactic by Irving and his representation. As noted earlier, he’s in his perfect situation in Brooklyn. If they can stay healthy, they are better than the Lakers right now.
If Los Angeles didn’t have Westbrook’s contract to deal with, then perhaps a move could be possible. Irving did have a great relationship with Kobe Bryant when he was alive so there could be an allure to wearing the same purple and gold jerseys that the Hall of Famer wore. If the Lakers are going to make a push for the guard, they have to lean into that aspect of the franchise.