Proposed 3-Team Blockbuster Trade Sends Lakers a Former No. 1 Pick

lebron james russell westbrook

Getty LeBron James with Russell Westbrook.

Given Kyrie Irving’s offseason media tour praising LeBron James, there is some buzz the star point guard could bolt the Brooklyn Nets for the Los Angeles Lakers. The challenge for Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is the team finds itself without cap space and possessing very few tradable assets.

The Lakers would need to pull off a sign-and-trade for Irving, and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons sees orchestrating a three-team deal as L.A.’s best chance to land the seven-time All-Star. Simmons put together a few different trade options if Irving opts out of his deal to become a free agent and offered a three-team proposal with the Thunder helping broker a blockbuster move between the Lakers and Nets.

“Well, [Thunder GM] Sam Presti OKC, former home of Russell Westbrook, taking the hometown hero home for a year,” the analyst explained during a June 6, 2022 episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “Get a couple Lakers’ first [draft picks] out of it. Lakers get Kyrie and the Nets just get a huge trade exception, that’s it and then try to figure out what to do with it. I feel like the Nets would have to get something in that though, and I don’t know what it is. But if I’m OKC, I’ll take Westbrook’s money for a year. Give me some more firsts, great.

“Oh, I get more, I get Lakers’ first now in 2027. I don’t even know who’s going to be on their team in 2027. We’ll take that, we’ll take [the 2029] pick swap too, great. We’ll take Westbrook off your hands. I think that’s the most realistic one. And then, Westbrook comes home, conquering hero, even though he didn’t really conquer anything other than some first-round losses. I could see that one happening.”

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The Lakers Would Need to Pull Off a Sign-and-Trade for Kyrie

Irving is slated to have a $36.5 million salary for the 2022-23 season as the final year of his $136 million deal, but the guard can opt out of his contract to become a free agent this offseason. The Lakers would need for Irving to not only opt out but push his way to Los Angeles to reunite with James.

The above proposal would need to be adjusted to at least give the Nets some picks and players to pair with the trade exception. Yet, the counter-argument is the Nets could lose Irving for nothing in free agency, so the superstar has a bit of leverage in the situation.

Taking back Westbrook’s $47 million salary is likely unappealing for Brooklyn which is why Oklahoma City makes some sense as a landing spot. Los Angeles would need to move either Westbrook or Anthony Davis to be able to take back Irving’s new salary via a sign-and-trade.

Signs Point to Kyrie Inking a Contract Extension With the Nets: Report

Despite the ongoing rumors, New York Post’s Brian Lewis reported that Irving’s most likely outcome is to sign a contract extension with the Nets. Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks sounded non-committal about Irving’s long-term future during his end-of-season remarks.

“Despite a report that the Nets are ‘outright unwilling’ to re-sign Kyrie Irving long term — and speculation about him being traded — all indications strongly point toward a reunion between Brooklyn and its All-Star point guard,” Lewis wrote on June 6.

“Irving has until June 29 to decide whether he will opt out of the final $36.5 million year of his contract for 2022-23 and become a free agent. But both Nets and league sources told The Post an extension is more likely.”

Kyrie Has Praised LeBron Throughout the Offseason

Simmons noted that “there is some Lakers buzz” regarding Los Angeles being a potential new home for Irving. James and Irving have made no secret about the fact they did not exactly click as Cavaliers teammates. During a May 16 interview on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast, Irving admitted that he was sorting through a lot of different things at the time which contributed to the tension with James.

“I’d probably be in L.A. right now [if Irving did not request trade],” Irving said with a smile. “I’d probably be traveling with his backpack. Nah, I’m joking, man. That was a time in my career that I look back on, and we’ve had conversations, me and Bron, plenty of conversations. …That’s my dog, shout out to Bron, man.

“…So, I was learning on the fly. When he first came back [to the Cavs] I was 22, 23, so I was just a young kid trying to help Cleveland patch up their relationship with him. I got drafted the year after [LeBron signed with the Heat], so when I came in, it was like, ‘Are you going to be better than LeBron? Are you?’ That was my first question when I got into Cleveland. So, it was mixed emotions the whole time that we were competitors and then when he came back as my teammate, when he came back to Cleveland, that’s his home.

“…I definitely feel like me learning from him helped accelerate my understanding of the game that we’re in, the business that we’re in. Because I was watching him deal with it in front of the camera, off the camera. Being LeBron James, that comes with its own responsibility.”