After weeks of speculation and mixed messages about whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers could create enough cap space with the Anthony Davis trade to lure a max-level free agent, general manager Rob Pelinka put all those questions to bed: The Lakers will have max cap space, and they’re aiming high, with plans to go after Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, two of the biggest names on the market.
Leonard reportedly already plans to take a meeting with the Lakers (and other teams), but if the Lakers can’t lure him, it seems they value Irving just as highly, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times:
Kyrie Irving remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard, league sources say, now that the Lakers are sure they can open maximum cap space. They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed Irving to Brooklyn ...— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 28, 2019
This is a change in course since Tuesday, when Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Lakers were rooting for Irving to join the Brooklyn Nets so that they could freely go after D’Angelo Russell. Now that they have max cap space in hand, it would seem they want to leave no stone unturned.
There are also reasons to believe such a reunion between James and Irving — with Davis along for the ride as a massive upgrade on Kevin Love — is possible.
For one, we already know that Irving reportedly wants to play with Davis, and that people close to James think that the two reuniting on the Lakers is “still in play.” It’s also been reported as far back as early last month that Irving has talked to people about the possibility of donning the purple and gold, and that James has been trying to recruit him. Even as far back as January, there were whispers — and cryptic instagram posts from James — that suggested he and Irving wanted to rejoin forces.
Why’d Bron tag Kyrie though pic.twitter.com/i7gQg7UPRm— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 25, 2019
Will that happen? It’s impossible to know, but things are certainly looking up for the Lakers heading into the start of free agency on Sunday. And if they could lure Irving, it’s safe to say they would no longer have a glaring weakness in the backcourt on their roster, and with three talents as dynamic as James, Irving and Davis are, they may just be able to paper over any lack of depth the team would suffer from.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. Here is a list of every free agent credibly connected to the Lakers so far. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.