On this Monday morning after a thrilling Game 2 of the NBA Finals, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that Kyrie has asked LeBron if he might be interested in joining the Dallas Mavericks. Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes reported that Kyrie would like the Mavs to see if the Los Angeles Lakers might be open to giving them LeBron. Haynes noted that the Mavs were preparing an offer for LeBron before the trade deadline, even though LeBron was literally ineligible to be traded midseason due to his decision to sign a two-year, $97.1 million extension on Aug. 17 instead of Aug. 4.
(All this noise comes one week after Kyrie asked the public to “stop paying attention” to media reports regarding his next moves, and two weeks after LeBron floated retirement after Game 4 of the conference finals — a game Kyrie attended.)
LeBron has repeatedly stated his desire to retire in Los Angeles and/or play with Bronny. He just came within four wins of the finals with a revamped roster he was admittedly so excited about that he flew overseas to find a foot specialist who said he could postpone surgery. But, if he does want to finally reunite with Kyrie and hoop with his beloved Luka Doncic — and deeply annoy NBA fans everywhere, especially Lakers fans — he can negotiate a buyout and sign a discounted deal with Dallas, thereby surrendering tens of millions of dollars. (The Athletic's Jovan Buha estimated a “10 percent chance” LeBron either retires or changes teams.) Kyrie, an unrestricted free agent, would need to take a massive pay cut, too. The Mavs would probably then have to gut their roster and refill it with veteran minimum guys to afford the three stars under the new CBA.
As for a trade sending LeBron to Dallas? I can't imagine the Lakers ever considering it unless Rich Paul tells Jeanie Buss that no Klutch client will ever wear purple and gold again, which somehow I don't think will happen. Jeanie's inherited ethos is to always compete for banners and make the Lakers the most attractive destination for stars. She is on record saying that keeping LeBron happy until he retires with the Lakers is the organization's current priority. The idea of her greenlighting a deal that would send him to a Western Conference rival seems a tad unrealistic.
In terms of basketball, trading LeBron to help Kyrie form a Big 3 with Luka is utterly nonsensical from a Lakers perspective. Let's see: Dallas could offer Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, and Davis Bertans to make the money work, their two best young players in Jalen Green and Jaden Hardy, and maybe three unprotected picks, including No. 10 in the 2023 NBA Draft. Great! Call it in!
Oh, not enough to convince the Lakers to part with arguably the greatest player ever, you say? Well, maybe a third or fourth (or seventh!) team can get involved to help satisfy the wishes of Kyrie Irving and Mark Cuban.
A deal sending Irving to the Lakers — which LeBron pushed for last summer and before the Feb. 9 trade deadline — is more feasible, only because the Lakers might actually be intrigued by the concept. But, the Mavs have reportedly (and sensibly) zero incentive to work with the Lakers on a sign-and-trade, presumably unless Anthony Davis or Austin Reaves is involved, which is highly improbable.
Kyrie, of course, can just sign with the Lakers in free agency, but he'd have to accept $12-15 million under his annual max value and the Lakers' depth would be depleted. Rob Pelinka opened his exit interview press conference by emphasizing the importance of continuity heading into next season. Certainly, today's leakage could be part of Kyrie's (and LeBron's) strategy to get him to Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Michael Malone would like to remind you that Game 3 of the NBA Finals is on Wednesday.