The week or so leading up to the NBA Draft should probably be renamed “lying season.” Players are vying for contracts, agents are positioning their clients for situations or draft slots, organizations are fighting for leverage in trade talks, and we’re all left to sift through the obfuscation — a word that cannot be spelled without the letters “b” and “s.”
Kyrie Irving and his attempts at getting the Brooklyn Nets to commit to him in ways he has outright refused to commit to them in three seasons feels like the latest example of a player mentioning the Lakers to make sure his staring contest makes headlines.
That said, Irving is as unpredictable as he is talented, so you just never know. Maybe he does want to reunite with LeBron James to once again take on the Warriors.
Oh and as all this is going on, the Lakers are getting ready to try to buy a second-round pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. So yeah. Busy week.
In a jam-packed day of podcasting, over the course of three episodes I welcomed my colleagues, Ricky O’Donnell and Aaron Larsuel, Dan Woike of the L.A. Times, and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh to meander around, over, and through all these topics.
The Kyrie question is a tough one. On one hand, it’s borderline addition by subtraction if the Lakers are able to trade Russell Westbrook and Irving offers the highest ceiling of any trade targets who are even remotely plausible. On the other, Irving has seemingly looked for basically any and all opportunities to get paid not to play basketball.
And look, I enjoy unlimited PTO as much as anyone, but at some point, you need to prove to employers and teammates you can be trusted with that freedom and Irving has not, flat out. If he decides to take another random hiatus in the middle of the season, James and Anthony Davis (who have questions of their own availability) would be on the hook to once again carry a ragtag group of buy-low candidates the Lakers hope might outplay their contracts.
If Irving is as willing as he’s been to tank a team that employs one of his closest friends in the league, what type of commitment will he make to James — someone he’s already left behind only a few years ago? These are questions the Lakers have to try to find answers to and, unfortunately, won’t be able to until they actually employ him.
What’s wild is even with all that said, Irving might be the Lakers’ best shot at winning another championship with James. Personally, I’d rather use Westbrook’s contract to replenish the team’s depth, but that comes with its own set of risks. Are you more confident in managing Irving’s next YouTube rabbit hole than you are in Gordon Hayward or Malcolm Brogdon staying healthy?
I honestly have no idea! No one does!
At the end of the day, the only reason the Lakers even have a shot at Irving is because of all these questions. If any of them were remotely answerable, either Brooklyn would have already offered him a max extension or moved him to some desperate team stuck at rock bottom with little to no other options at improving while remaining on their current timeline. Oh shit.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.