As the NBA world awaits a Deandre Ayton offer sheet and Kevin Durant trade, other discussions and rumors have slowed to a near standstill while Summer League chugs along. That includes the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets’ discussions on a possible Kyrie Irving deal, according to the latest updates from various newsbreakers.
For now, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said in his now-daily update on the talks that the Nets are focused on Durant discussions, and have put Irving conversations on hold while they figure out whether or not to trade Durant, and where to send him (emphasis mine):
“Brooklyn is really focused on Kevin Durant and trying to figure out if there’s a deal to be had for him in the marketplace. I think Kyrie Irving is on the back burner of that. There were conversations with the Lakers last week, I’m told that that’s not continued. I think both sides know where they stand. And I think for the Nets, getting a clear indication of what the future looks like with Kevin Durant before making any decision on how Kyrie Irving fits into that, that’s the sense other teams have with the situation.
“I think the focus for the Nets right now is ‘is there a deal out there for Kevin Durant?’ And I think Kyrie Irving is secondary to that, and I think his future may be decided off of how the Nets operate the decisions they make around KD.”
That part in bold is notable, not to mention believable. As has been discussed ad nauseam on this site and elsewhere, the Nets don’t have other suitors for Irving, and the Lakers are reticent to bid against themselves. And to both of those points, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype offered yet another report that as of now, the team is not willing to give up more than one first-round pick to get off of Westbrook, and the Nets have had no luck conjuring up other suitors for Irving:
Currently, the Lakers don’t want to give up multiple first-round picks to trade Russell Westbrook, league sources told HoopsHype. In the speculated blockbuster trade of Westbrook and Irving, the Nets would likely want a first-round pick to move Irving and take on Westbrook. The Nets would likely want an additional first-rounder to entice another team like the Spurs or Pacers to take Westbrook as the third team in a deal.
At least one member of the Dallas Mavericks organization believed if there is any coach Irving would want to play for, it would be Jason Kidd, his idol growing up as a Nets fan. The Nets called the Mavericks to gauge their interest level in an Irving trade, league sources told HoopsHype. Dallas, however, didn’t reciprocate much interest in trading for Irving.
And all of that is why both sides clearly understand what the other can offer, and are waiting to see if they can do better. Jovan Buha of The Athletic — during an appearance on ESPN Los Angeles’ “Lakers Talk with Allen Sliwa” — even went so far as to say that if the Lakers were willing to give up two first-round picks, Irving would probably be in Los Angeles doing his introductory press conference right now:
“From what I’ve been told, basically any conversation between the Lakers and another team starts with ‘we want at least one first round pick to take on Russell Westbrook’s contract.’ So that is the starting point of any negotiation, whether the Lakers trade Russ for Kyrie or trade him for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, or maybe Charlotte for Gordon Hayward, any of those packages, expect to see a first-round pick, be it 2027 or 2029, being attached to Russell Westbrook to incentivize one of those teams to take him on.
“Any Russ trade is going to require draft compensation. From what I’ve been told, the Lakers do not want to give up that second first-round pick. I think if they were willing to do two first-round picks, Kyrie would be a Laker right now. That’s as good of an offer as Brooklyn is going to realistically get for Kyrie is two first-round picks and a big expiring in Russ. I think that deal would have gone down had the Lakers been willing to do that up to this point. I think the haggling is really on that second piece.
“I think the Lakers are prepared to send Russ, plus another player, plus a first-round pick to Brooklyn. But Brooklyn wants a second pick, and the Lakers would like to send a second-round pick, or maybe two second-round picks, something like that. So I think that’s where the haggle point is in these negotiations, and then also what player the Lakers are going to send back to Brooklyn.”
And intuitively, that makes sense. Almost literally, the Lakers cannot offer much more than two first-round picks. If the Nets were not willing to do a deal for that, why would they even be discussing this with the Lakers at all? But it’s also clear the Lakers don’t want to bid against themselves to pay that much. And, at least according to Dave McMenamin during an appearance on “NBA Today.” there is also still the chance that the Nets eventually take their ball and go home, and try to sort this all out with Irving and Durant in training camp:
“They (the Lakers) are waiting to see if Brooklyn will in fact try to bring both of those guys back. And the thing that I learned reporting the last couple of days in Vegas is that the summation of the Nets’ thinking is that ‘Kevin Durant made a decision to ask for this trade at a time when emotions were running high, seeing his former team the Warriors winning a championship and perhaps with the passage of time he’d want to come back to the fold.’ And they’re not going to make a move like trading Kyrie Irving until they hear it from the horse’s mouth and they get a clear message from Kevin Durant what his intentions are moving forward. Because quite frankly, if they were to move Kyrie, that could be the thing that triggers KD to say ‘I definitely want out.’ Maybe they could convince everyone involved, ‘hey, let’s give this another shot’ and that’s why it’s unlikely for the Lakers to be able to pry Kyrie away in the interim, and at some point they’ll have to start looking at a Plan B or a Plan C.”
So again, we may be here a while. It still does seem, logically, as though Irving will eventually be a Laker and Westbrook will be sent elsewhere. It just may take a bit as the Nets try to figure out if they can convince Durant to stay, or what the trade market is for him, and then get down to figuring out the exact package of picks and players they can take on to exile Irving.
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