With Kevin Durant asking out of Brooklyn, the belief that Kyrie Irving would spend next season on the Nets after opting into the last year on his contract has been shortlived. While the majority of the league prepares their best prospective trade packages for Durant and the Nets, suitors for Irving are far more limited.
Irving is signaling that he’s only interested in playing for the Lakers, which means another team would have to want to add Kyrie when he doesn’t want to be there, which is a major risk, when considering what has happened to the last two teams that have done so when he’s chosen them, few are willing to take. As such, pretty much every Irving rumor popping up involves the Lakers, with Chris Haynes reporting on Saturday that there were active talks about an Irving for Russell Westbrook swap, which would reunite Irving with LeBron James and, ever so briefly, Westbrook with Durant.
While Haynes would double back and pour a bit of cold water on his own rumors by noting talks were more preliminary than advanced, it sure seems like a Westbrook-Irving swap has real legs. Marc Stein added to that on Sunday in his newsletter, proclaiming that the driving force behind L.A.’s interest is none other than LeBron James.
James, I’m told, wants to see Irving in Lakerland more than anyone. What other team, furthermore, has a LeBron-sized personality with the experience to cope with all the chaos that comes with adding Kyrie? James, remember, has often thrived in chaos.
James and Irving have publicly squashed any lingering beef they had over Irving’s 2017 departure from Cleveland in recent years, and it seems both view this as an opportunity not only to fully reconcile but also that it’s their best chance to win. For all of Kyrie’s faults off the court, he’s more productive on it currently than Westbrook, which is surely appealing to James considering his ever-closing window at the age of 37. As for Kyrie, he comes from the only situation that could make the Lakers look tame, and he’s well aware of the expectations that come with playing with LeBron.
Given the Lakers are the only real suitor for Irving, the Nets might put that deal on the backburner until they figure out exactly what a KD trade looks like so they know what to send out and what to prioritize in return alongside Westbrook, but there sure seems to be a stronger than expected chance we see LeBron and Kyrie on the court together again next season.