With the NBA Finals underway and the offseason and free agency period quickly approaching, teams are preparing to make moves that will put them in title contention next season. Several big-name free agents will hit the market on July 1, but perhaps the biggest is Dallas Mavericks point guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving was acquired by the Mavericks at the February trade deadline. However, he gave no guarantees he would stay with the franchise after this season when his contract expires. Even with his pending free agency approaching, the Mavericks star seemingly is trending toward wanting to stay in Dallas. According to NBA insider Chris B. Haynes of Bleacher Report, Irving is imploring the Mavericks to coordinate a trade that would land them Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
“A new twist has emerged in the LeBron James-Kyrie Irving reunion plot, as league sources have told Bleacher Report Irving wants the Dallas Mavericks to explore trading for LeBron James this offseason to create a Big 3 alongside himself and Luka Doncic,” Haynes writes.
“At this point, it’s no secret Irving and James are open to a reunion from their days playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron has made it clear as recently as February’s trade deadline that he’d be open to playing alongside his former teammate.”
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Irving and Kevin Durant spent three and a half seasons as teammates on the Brooklyn Nets before both stars got traded at the deadline this year. But the breakup of Irving and Durant had nothing to do with their feelings about each other as individuals. It was more about the direction of the Nets moving forward.
Durant came to the Nets under the impression that he and Irving would be teammates far into the distant future. But because of Irving’s sporadic availability over the last few seasons, the Nets were unwilling to offer him a long-term contract extension. But now Durant is in a new situation with the Suns, and he and Irving have proven to be a formidable duo during his Nets’ tenure.
ESPN NBA insider Tim MacMahon said back in April there is a “tiny percent chance” Irving and Durant could reunite in Phoenix if the Suns send Deandre Ayton to the Mavericks in a sign and trade.
“The Dallas Mavericks have a gaping hole at their starting center. The Dallas Mavericks believe that Deandre Ayton is an extremely talented young big man who has a lot of untapped potential. Those are the facts. If it’s not Dallas, I don’t see a cap space route just with the teams that have room, just sliding him in there.”
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The writing has been on the wall for an Irving and James reunion for quite some time. Last summer, Haynes also reported that the Nets and Lakers discussed a trade that would have swapped Irving and former Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook, but that never materialized.
Haynes also notes in his report that the Mavericks were preparing to make the Lakers a trade offer for LeBron in 2022 amid a season that resulted in Los Angeles missing the playoffs. With Irving set to be a free agent and LeBron still looking to add to his resume, now may be as good a time as any for the former Cavalier teammates to reunite.
“The Mavericks were preparing to make an offer for James last season when the Lakers were spiraling, sources say, despite James being ineligible for a trade last season due to the date of his extension. But the Lakers made a string of trades near the deadline that changed the trajectory of their season,” Haynes added.
“But any chance of forming a James-Irving-Doncic Big 3 under the NBA’s strict new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be difficult. For Irving and James to partner with Doncic, the two would have to take a sizable pay cut. The easiest—and unlikeliest—path to adding James this offseason would be for him to orchestrate a buyout.”