Despite voicing his desire to return to Boston last summer, Kyrie Irving has since been noncommittal on his intentions for his impending free agency. Danny Ainge has no shortage of confidence that a “marriage” between the two will occur.
However, the rest of the league is eagerly awaiting Uncle Drew’s decision on whether he’ll commit to Beantown as his long-term home or not. He could activate his player option for next year before unrestricted free agency, decline the option and enter free agency immediately or the team can negotiate a sign-and-trade deal to recoup value for Irving.
Since his public apology to former teammate and mentor LeBron James, rumors have swirled regarding a reunion between the two. It is possible via trade, though this potential deal would require Irving to either exercise his option or agree to a sign-and-trade deal this coming offseason. He could decide to go west as a free agent and spurn the Celtics altogether.
After failing to pry Anthony Davis away from the Pelicans before the deadline, the Lakers have their work cut out for them. They’ll need to outbid a host of other potential suitors, including the rival Celtics.
Now, this is where Irving comes in to the equation. A three-team trade between the Lakers, Celtics and Pelicans gets all parties the chips they desire.
The basic framework of a potential deal this summer could be as follows:
Boston receives: Anthony Davis, 2019 1st round pick (via LAL)
Los Angeles receives: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford
This deal gets all parties a handsome reward for their time waiting, and sets up both Davis and Irving with teams that can contend immediately and with fresh starts with two of basketball’s most adored franchises.
However, this deal makes the Celtics bank on three key elements: Irving and Horford both have to either accept their player options or agree to sign-and-trade deals, and Gordon Hayward must take a step forward, closer to the form he showed as a member of the Utah Jazz. Oh, and they somehow have to make Horford and Irving’s salary are both under the cap in any deal. That’s a whole lot of if’s.
Kyrie rejoins James in Los Angeles, along with tactician Al Horford and budding forward Brandon Ingram, to threaten the Warriors’ dynasty. Davis would team up with a supporting cast led by Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward in Boston, forming an athletically gifted team, albeit less exciting without Irving, Tatum and Horford there.
New Orleans starts over, resorting to a promising core of Tatum, Kuzma and Ball, along with draft capital to add to it. Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday made it through the deadline, and a projected starting five of Ball, Holiday, Tatum, Kuzma and Randle could make some serious noise in the west.
Though this deal would make sense for all parties, as everyone gets assets that they want, Boston must decide whether deconstructing their core for Anthony Davis is worth it. It may not get them over the hump, especially with the Bucks, Raptors and 76ers tooling up at the deadline.
However, if Irving walks, this deal gets a lot less spicy, as it would go down without Irving and the Lakers involved; it would be Anthony Davis for Tatum and pretty much whatever the Celtics can get the Pelicans to take.
Uncle Drew would be able to team up with LeBron if Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson can fit Irving’s max-contract on their books. And they’ll bend over backwards to make that happen.