LeBron James and Kyrie Irving may never play together again, and a reunion for the two on the Los Angeles Lakers certainly has some roadblocks. However, what is clear from the last few months is that Irving and James no longer seem to have beef, making the idea of them reuniting impossible to completely dismiss out of hand.
A lot of speculation kicked off last week when it was reported that Irving had “real” interest in a reunion with James, and there have been other signs that his desire is mutual, whether it’s James singing “Rewind” to Irving on Instagram or naming Irving as one of the handful of good players he’d like to play with.
It’s worth mentioning that Irving also called James to apologize for how difficult he was as a young player, and it seems like all of this stuff has left them with a reconciled relationship, as James told Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
“Yeah, we’re in a good place right now,” James told The Athletic Saturday night. “Me and Kyrie are in a good place right now. I love the man that he’s becoming, I love the challenges he’s accepted and I always wish the best for him.”
However, James also said he wouldn’t go into detail on what his call with Irving consisted of:
James said of that call: “We talked and it was a great conversation,” but wouldn’t divulge what he said to Irving. “He told y’all what he said,” James said.
So does this all mean that Irving is destined for the Lakers and that he and James are dead-set on being teammates again? Hardly. There are actually significant complications to such a reunion.
For one, the latest package the Lakers have reportedly put on the table for Anthony Davis would include Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and two first round picks, while also seeing the Lakers take back Solomon Hill’s contract.
As noted in the link above, the Lakers would reportedly stretch Hill, but even then, just to get to $26.2 million in cap space they would have to dump all of their remaining young players (Josh Hart, Moe Wagner, Svi Mykhailiuk and Isaac Bonga), as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report laid out on Twitter. And even with that amount of money, the Lakers would still be nearly $10 million short of a max contract for a player of Irving’s caliber (around $34 million a year).
If the Lakers don’t trade for Davis they’ll have that much cap space without really trying, but with Davis in tow, acquiring Irving is significantly more difficult unless his desire to play with James is so “real” that he is willing to forfeit even more money off of what he’d already be losing due to not re-signing with the Celtics.
The possibility of pairing these two might be worth paying attention to if the Lakers strike out on Davis before the trade deadline, but until then, Lakers fans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up for it. Bringing Irving to play with Davis and James would obviously be an amazing superteam, it’s just hard to make the math work as things stand right now. Still, it’s nice to hear they aren’t holding grudges anymore, because we’re all better when we can forgive each other and admit we’ve all made mistakes.