Suns Considered ‘Likely’ Suitor for $232 Million Superstar

Damian Lillard guards Kyrie Irving

Getty Damian Lillard guards Kyrie Irving

The Phoenix Suns are considered a “likely” suitor for one of the best players in the NBA.

Marc Stein of Substack reported on March 20 that the Suns have been frequently mentioned as suitors for Kyrie Irving, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. The All-Star guard will have made over $232 million in his career once this season ends.

“The Lakers and the Suns are the most frequently mentioned likely Kyrie suitors in league circles, but getting a confirmed read this far out on whether either team intends to actually pursue him is no layup,” Stein wrote. “The Lakers decided against trying to outbid the Mavericks in trade talks for Irving leading up to the deadline and have since publicly described the lead guard they did acquire last month — D’Angelo Russell — as a player they hope to re-sign. The Suns, meanwhile, have had Durant in the lineup for all of three games since No. 35’s arrival. Phoenix is thus still assessing exactly what it is capable of as currently constructed, while there are also fresh questions about the eagerness of Durant and Irving to reunite in the desert given the great lengths they appeared to go to in avoiding each other when the Suns visited the Mavericks on March 5 for a nationally televised showdown at the American Airlines Center.”

Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. The Duke product is averaging 27.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists this season while shooting 49.2% from the field, 38.2% from beyond the arc and 90.2% from the free-throw line.

The Suns Approached the Nets About Trading for Kyrie Irving

The Suns approached the Nets about trading for Irving, according to a February 14 report from Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Phoenix wound up acquiring two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant from Brooklyn.

“The Suns approached the Nets about trading for Kyrie Irving once the All-Star point guard asked out of Brooklyn, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports, and there were rumblings around the league that Phoenix was hoping to somehow land both Irving and Durant,” Fischer wrote.

Durant has played in three games with the Suns, averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 69.0% overall, 53.8% from 3 and 88.2% from the free-throw line. The Suns are 3-0 with Durant in the lineup. KD is currently out with a left ankle injury.

Kyrie Irving Could Join the Lakers

Joe Vardon of The Athletic believes Irving will sign with the Lakers this summer to reunite with LeBron James. Vardon covered James and Irving when the two stars were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17.

“I believe Irving will be a Laker next season,” Vardon wrote on February 9. “How’s that for a juxtaposition? Irving wants a four- or five-year contract, for the maximum money allowed. If he and the Mavericks reach agreement, it could be a five-year, $273 million deal. But Irving said he didn’t want to engage in negotiations now. ‘The business aspect of this is ruthless,’ he said. The Lakers can’t quite get to the four-year, $210 million max deal he would be eligible for outside of Dallas, but they can pay him north of $30 million per year. The teams with the cap space to pay Irving what he wants, outside of Dallas, are the Pistons, Magic, Pacers, Blazers and Spurs. They are all either rebuilding or, in Portland’s case, have a smaller, ball-dominant guard in Damian Lillard. In other words, getting that max deal outside of the Mavericks may not be possible.

“Enter the Lakers. James has made clear he wants to reunite with Irving. As partners in Cleveland, they won the 2016 NBA Finals, reached two others and were an otherwise dominant, unstoppable duo on offense. They have obviously patched up their differences that led to Irving demanding a trade away from LeBron in Cleveland in the summer of 2017. Irving’s apology helped.”

The Suns and Lakers are in the same division, so it’s safe to assume Phoenix doesn’t want to see Los Angeles form a Big 3 of James, Irving and Anthony Davis.