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RUMORS: Los Angeles Lakers still Kyrie Irving’s preferred landing spot

kyrie irving lebron james lakers nets

Trade talks between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers may be stalled at the moment, but Kyrie Irving would still like to reunite with LeBron James.

From The Athletic’s Jovan Buha:

“…All indications are that the Lakers are Irving’s top destination if he leaves Brooklyn, whether it’s via a trade between now and the February 2023 trade deadline, or in free agency next summer, when Westbrook’s salary will be off the Lakers…

Considering the lack of current league-wide interest in acquiring him via trade, it seems like the Lakers are his most likely free-agent option next summer, other than the Nets.”

Irving is entering the final year of his contract, so he can use the spectrum of unrestricted free agency as leverage to fend off any teams not named the Lakers that might want to trade for him. As Buha notes, the Nets are idling until they resolve the Kevin Durant situation, which will directly affect how they want to proceed with Irving.

Los Angeles can likely get Kyrie (not to mention Buddy Hield and Myles Turner) if they include both of their controllable future first round picks (2027, 2029), which they haven’t agreed to do, yet. They’ll also need to find a third team to absord Westbrook’s salary, per Buha, as the Nets aren’t interested in paying extra luxury taxes to take on the final season of Westbrook’s deal. Presumably, the Lakers would also need to find more assets to incentivize that third team to take on Russ’ $47.1 million. Complicated!

The Lakers only path back to contention in 2022-23 is adding Kyrie, despite all the risks that come with investing in the unpredictable superstar. The combination of shedding Russ (addition by subtraction) and incorporating Irving — a seamless, proven fit with LeBron — offers too high of an upside to pass up.

Whenever the Nets are truly ready to deal, the Lakers should get cracking.