It’s been three days since NBA free agency period started, and all signs still indicate that the Lakers remain steadfast in acquiring Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving in a potential trade for Russell Westbrook. Yahoo Sports insider Chris Haynes was the latest to report that both the Lakers and Nets are working to finalize an Irving-Westbrook-centered exchange in some capacity.
However, Haynes also mentioned that the discussion to bring Irving to Los Angeles remains preliminary, which is the latest in a series of multiple reports that suggest at the very least that the Lakers are waiting for the aftermath of Kevin Durant’s impending departure from Brooklyn before making any more moves. It seems like the Nets, who are having themselves a nightmare offseason with all this, are prioritizing trading Durant first before dealing with Irving.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the purple and gold are also awaiting the after-effect of Durant’s departure before signing more free agents (or making any other moves) this summer.
After back-to-back injury-riddled seasons in which their supporting cast couldn’t stay healthy, the Lakers opted for a more conservative approach in free agency. As things stand, the Lakers have 13 players on their roster. The current plan is to wait out the Kevin Durant saga and see which free agents slip through the cracks.
Kyle Goon of The O.C. Register reported similarly, and that the Lakers will have to remain patient before welcoming Irving to Los Angeles.
The sense around the NBA is that Brooklyn’s first priority is trading Kevin Durant, who could command the most bountiful package of players and picks in league history. Once that business is concluded – and at the moment, there’s such a frenzy of interest that it may take a while to unpack – the Nets will turn their attention to dealing Irving, who has been a constant source of drama and tension since his arrival in Brooklyn.
So did ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, who also said that the negotiations to acquire Irving will have to be put on hold as the Nets continue to look for the best possible package in return for Durant. Note that the Nets are still in continuous talks with the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, both of which Durant indicated were his desired destinations, with the Toronto Raptors also reportedly in the mix.
"The domino that needs to fall first in Brooklyn is finding a trade partner for Kevin Durant and until that occurs, the Kyrie Irving conversations will kind of be on the back burner."— ’ (@_Talkin_NBA) July 1, 2022
— Dave McMenamin#NBATwitter #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/SDbsFXGSzO
What remains complicated in this scenario is that Brooklyn wants more than what both the Suns and Heat can offer for Durant, which means their goal is to get another team or two involved in forming the best trade package possible. This only means that the Lakers have to wait for the Nets to be satisfied with the best deal for Durant, in order to progress with their chances of acquiring Irving.
So, before Lakers fans celebrate their impending divorce from Westbrook in exchange for Irving (who just fits exponentially better alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis) they have to remember that there are a lot of complications that lie ahead as Brooklyn decides how to deal with Durant.
“The Nets can’t make a decision about what they’re going to trade Kyrie for until they know what’s on their roster and more importantly what’s on their books. So Kyrie and specifically the Lakers are going to have to wait... Russell Westbrook makes $11 million more than Kyrie Irving and they can’t be traded for each other. Now, they can be traded for each other under league rules but you can’t just ignore those extra $11 million dollars. It’s possible that the extra $11 million could explode the Nets’ payroll deep into the luxury tax. It’s possible that the Nets end up in a sign-and-trade where they receive a player in a sign-and-trade as part of the Durant deal, they’re going to be hard-capped and they can’t even do that deal.
“So I will say to you straight Key, since this is what you want, Kyrie Irving wants to be a Laker is the signal he’s sending out. The only place he wants to be is the Lakers.”
So it seems the most vital offseason move (and the ones that come after that) the Lakers are aiming to do is far from complete. Or is it? Because I was writing this blog, Ian Begley of SNY reported the following:
“The Nets and Lakers did touch base about a potential Kyrie Irving (and) Russell Westbrook-centered trade on Saturday... I was told that at least from the Lakers side that there was some optimism about having momentum towards getting something done here in the near future, potentially as early as Sunday... But with the Nets, everything really revolves around Kevin Durant, his trade request and how they proceed there...
“A lot of things are up in the air right now in the league, and a lot will be discussed late Saturday and on Sunday, and we’ll see if we get to the finish line on any of this stuff.”
.@IanBegley reports that there is momentum towards a Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook trade between the Nets and the Lakers, plus notes on possible Kevin Durant destinations and whether the Nets would hold on to Russell Westbrook if they acquire him from the Lakers:— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) July 3, 2022
➡️ @GEICO pic.twitter.com/XSWyGHbhLT
So to summarize: The Lakers and Nets are...
- Talking about a Kyrie Irving trade, at minimum preliminarily
- Might get a deal done this weekend
- Also might wait until the Kevin Durant trade is done
If that makes it sound like anything can happen... That’s because it can. So buckle up. If you’re one of the many Lakers fans that’s getting impatient and excited by all the Kyrie Irving news and rumors, I suggest you sit back and practice the most important virtue in life — patience. All signs suggest that this is far from over.
Unless it almost is.