Leverage in trade negotiations is fickle. One moment, you think you have the upper hand, next, you wonder how the hell you arrived at a place where you now no longer have a shot at the package you once thought you might get at a bargain. Life comes at you fast, and in the NBA, hesitancy can often be costly.
The Lakers probably headed into this offseason maybe hoping for a star-caliber talent in return for Russell Westbrook, but presumably were ready to break up his contract into a few smaller ones even if it meant no one coming back with anything close to his resumé.
All of sudden, though, thanks to a nightmarish month or so in Brooklyn, Rob Pelinka had a chance at landing Kyrie Irving for below market value. Today in the “Lakers Lounge,” Harrison Faigen and I made the case that they’ve waited long enough, and the risk of missing out on Irving and (gulp) starting the season with Westbrook is too high if the only benefit is a first-rounder almost a decade from now.
Let’s put it this way: If I told you right after Westbrook’s infamous exit interview, in which he blamed basically everyone but himself for last season, that it would cost a mere two first round picks and some other disappointing money from last year to turn him and his bloated contract into Kyrie Irving and, potentially, more help, you’d leap at the opportunity.
Sure, the risk is you trade for Irving, sign him to an extension, and he dedicates his life to space travel so as to prove the geometric dimensions of planet earth, but so long as his feet are on the ground and his head is in the game, he’s a perfect offensive fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
So what’s the holdup? According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic this could’ve been done already. What are they waiting for?
It’s clear Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets don’t want to appear weak as stars are all going for insane pick packages, so throw in the second pick and a couple extra contracts and bring in the desperately needed shooting this roster is missing as of right now.
Sure, patience could pay off and they could still have an opportunity to draft a kid who is currently getting ready for puberty as well as Irving’s services. But the trade winds could just as easily shift and the Lakers could be left with a pair of stars who literally would not look at each other while in the same arena a week ago.
No, the risk is nowhere near the reward here. Get it done, Rob.
Harrison and I discussed all that, the Deandre Ayton situation (Disclaimer: Phoenix had not yet matched his offer while we were recording), Jeanie Buss’ latest attempt at avoiding accountability for the clown show of a front office she’s overseen, and more.
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.