‘Massive’ 4-Way Proposed Trade Sends Lakers a New Superstar

Lakers' Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

Getty Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and new head coach Darvin Ham.

The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to be impacted by Kevin Durant’s trade request but not because the superstar is headed to Hollywood. Durant’s decision reignites the discussions about Kyrie Irving potentially heading to the Lakers. ESPN’s Kevin Pelton put together a potential “massive four teamer” blockbuster trade proposal that has the Lakers acquiring Irving while the Suns get Durant as the centerpiece of the deal.

The Spurs receive Russell Westbrook and two future first-round Lakers’ picks (2027, 2029) as part of the trade. The Nets land Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Josh Richardson and three first-round picks for sending Durant to the Suns. Pelton explained why the Nets may need to involve more teams in a Durant mega-trade.

“If Brooklyn receives Ayton in a sign-and-trade, the team would trigger the NBA’s hard cap at the apron, a little more than $7 million above the luxury-tax threshold,” Pelton wrote on June 30. “Since Ayton (at his max salary) and Bridges would make a combined $51 million, $7 million more than Durant’s 2022-23 cap hit, the Nets would have to shed payroll elsewhere.

“Enter the Lakers as a destination for Kyrie Irving, which would require a third team to take on Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million salary. In this construction, the Lakers send their two tradeable first-round picks to the San Antonio Spurs to take on Westbrook in exchange for Josh Richardson and the 2023 Hornets pick the Spurs acquired in the Dejounte Murray trade, which San Antonio can do using cap space. Richardson and the pick then go to Brooklyn with Ayton, Bridges and a pair of future Suns first-rounders — timed to be far enough in the future that Phoenix is no longer likely to be contending for championships.”

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How Can the Lakers Solve the Westbrook Problem?

All signs point to there being mutual interest between the Lakers and Irving, but Westbrook has not made the Nets eager to complete a deal. Pelton’s trade idea solves the main challenges the Nets possess in moving both their stars. The Lakers appear to be the only team with a real interest in acquiring Irving and adding another team willing to absorb Westbrook could enhance the chances of a deal happening.

Brooklyn also may need to involve another franchise to get the desired assets that the front office is targeting for Durant. Doing both deals at once complicates things but may be the Nets best option to move Durant and Irving before the start of the season.

Durant’s Trade Request Could Help the Lakers Land Irving

How the Lakers can land Irving remains a mystery, but the team clearly has an interest in adding the seven-time All-Star. The good news for the Lakers is there does not appear to be a bidding war developing for Irving, and the Nets may not be able to be particular about what they receive in a trade. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha and Sam Amick reported that Durant’s trade request “ups the Lakers’ odds” to acquire Irving and outlined the potential framing for a deal.

“A one-for-one Irving-Westbrook swap doesn’t work financially,” Buha and Amick detailed on June 30. “The Nets would either have to throw in an extra contract to make the math work, or include a third and/or fourth team to iron things out.

“The framework of a deal could look something like this: Irving and a second Nets player (Seth Curry, the newly acquired Royce O’Neale or Day’Ron Sharpe) in exchange for Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round selections. If the Nets don’t want to take on Westbrook’s salary, a third team could enter the mix, with one of the Lakers’ picks and potentially Talen Horton-Tucker and/or Kendrick Nunn being involved.”