LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis were asked about Kyrie Irving and trade rumors following the Los Angeles Lakers’ dispiriting loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
LeBron and Russ are the Lakers most directly tied to a potential Kyrie blockbuster. LeBron is an “immense proponent” of an Irving acquisition, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — a stance James has made clear on numerous occasions over the past year, including with a not-so-cryptic tweet hours after Irving’s trade request was made public.
LeBron talking about his "love" for Kyrie a few months back: https://t.co/alHdqF0Sv6
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) February 3, 2023
LeBron’s desire for a reunion with Kyrie awkwardly endorses Russell Westbrook being shipped out of town — a requisite of any Lakers-Nets deal, for salary-matching purposes.
After the Lakers collapsed in the fourth quarter in New Orleans (Westbrook did not play crunch-time), LeBron and Russ addressed the burbling buzz ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
Westbrook — no stranger to trade speculation — said he’s not feeling added pressure as the deadline approaches. (Russ previously indicated an openness to moving on from the Lakers, and his brother’s recent social media activity didn’t dispel the notion.)
“I’ve known this was a business since I was 18 or 19 years old, since I got in (the NBA),” Russ stated. “My dad taught me that: When you get into this league, it’s a business, and people make business decisions. Whatever decision that they make, I make sure I’m ready professionally like I always have been and always will be.”
"I've known this was a business since I was 18 or 19 years old." Russell Westbrook says he feels no added pressure with his name in trade rumors and he understands that this is a business. pic.twitter.com/3Agqb0Hn8d
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 5, 2023
LeBron went his typical route and deflected the question toward the Lakers’ front office, then threw in a comment that made his true feelings apparent.
“That’s a (Rob Pelinka) question,” said LeBron when asked if Irving could make the Lakers a contender. “I don’t speak for our front office. My mindset is whatever lineup or whatever group we have, is to make sure we prepare ourselves the best way we can to go out and win.
“Obviously, that’s a … ‘Duh’ question when you talk about a player like that.”
LeBron on if Kyrie can make the Lakers a contender: "I don't speak for our front office. My mindset is, whatever lineup or whatever group we have, is to make sure we prepare ourselves…to win.
"Obviously, that's a … 'duh' question when you talk about a player like that." 😂👀 https://t.co/0g129tVdHJ
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) February 5, 2023
LeBron has long wanted the Lakers to aggressively try and add a game-changing third star after his miscalculation on the Westbrook trade. In theory, Kyrie would be an ideal fit next to James and Davis. With Kyrie, though, it’s never that simple.
“We gotta keep pushing, keep grinding in the midst of this hoopla,” said Darvin Ham.
AD doesn’t believe the rumors have had an impact on the locker room.
“The only thing that we’re thinking about is the sense of urgency to climb up in the rankings.”
Davis said any Lakers worrying about the deadline has to “flush” the mindset ASAP.
A cadre of other aspiring contenders — including the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks — are in talks with Brooklyn, as well.