Lakers Urged Not to Acquire 7-Time All-Star & 1-Time Champion

Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

Getty Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers have been urged not to acquire a seven-time All-Star and one-time champion this summer.

In a June 20 column, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it would be “super dumb” for the Lakers to trade for Kyrie Irving, who is no longer a lock to return to the Brooklyn Nets.

According to a June 20 report from 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 Irving to consider the open market and the Lakers are expected to be among the interested suitors if the Duke product leaves the Nets.

Even though Irving is one of the best players in the NBA, Plaschke believes the Lakers would be making a mistake by trading for him.

“The Lakers need to ask themselves: Is this a player who can not only turn a bottom-dwelling team into a championship contender in the next two years but also lead it into the next era after James retires? Then they need to realize the answer is a resounding no,” Plaschke wrote. “At this moment, Irving is perceived as one of the most selfishly misguided players in all of professional sports, and that’s saying something. While walking out on the Nets in January 2021 because he was so troubled by the insurrection, he was videotaped at a party. While missing numerous games this past season because of the vaccine mandate, he would seemingly taunt his teammates by showing up in the stands.

“The Lakers don’t need that. Their new coach, Darvin Ham, doesn’t need that. Their disillusioned fans don’t need that. They don’t have a championship team as constituted, but Irving is not going to change that in the short term and his presence would cause irreparable harm in the long run.”

Irving has a June 29 deadline on his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The three-time All-NBA guard only appeared in 29 games in 2021-22 since he didn’t make his season debut until January. Irving refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine and the Nets made a collaborative decision not to have Uncle Drew be a part-time player to begin the season, only to change their stance in January.

Plaschke: Trading Draft Picks for Irving Wouldn’t Be Smart

According to Charania, Irving would probably have to pick up his 2022-23 player option and request a trade to the Lakers, who can’t sign the point guard as a free agent or acquire him via a sign-and-trade deal due to their cap situation.

Plaschke, who covers the Lakers for the LA Times, doesn’t think it would be smart for the Lakers to part ways with future draft picks for Irving, who has only played 103 regular-season games with the Nets.

“Unless Irving is willing to opt out of his Nets contract, become a free agent and take a historically large pay cut to come here for one-year, mid-level exception that would reduce his salary by at least $25 million, the only way he can join the Lakers is through a trade,” Plaschke wrote. “This trade would require shipping off (Russell) Westbrook — which is good — but also first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029, which is bad. Those draft picks are the only assets the Lakers possess in hopes of luring future unhappy stars to their team. Hello, Luka Doncic?

“If the Lakers are going to give up those picks, it had better be for a young star who can either guarantee them a title right now or truly carry them into the future. That’s not Irving.”

How Could Lakers Get Irving if They Don’t Listen to Plaschke?

In his column for The Athletic, Charania detailed how the Lakers could trade for Irving, who played with LeBron James for three seasons on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The duo won the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors.

“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.”

James and Irving played in 183 regular-season games together on the Cavaliers. They went 132-51 in the regular season and 39-13 in the playoffs.

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