Any team with LeBron James on its roster should be considered a title contender. Add in Anthony Davis and there is little doubt that duo could carry the team to a championship. 2020 is evidence of them actually doing as much.
But months and years of mismanaging assets has put the Lakers in a spot where, even with those two, the team isn’t considered a title favorite and is only barely on the periphery of being a contender, if they even are one. While it took a whole host of moves to ultimately break the camel’s back, the final straw was the team trading away much of its depth for Russell Westbrook, which has obviously gone disastrously.
In many ways, it’s still a marvel that the Lakers are coming in at +1100 odds on DraftKings, the sixth-best odds in the NBA and not terribly far behind the Suns at +800. In the Western Conference, only the Clippers and Warriors, both at +600 odds, rank above the Lakers.
It’s likely those odds at least in some way reflect the potential of the Lakers acquiring Kyrie Irving. And if there was one move that could vault the Lakers from the edges of title contenders to the center, it would be swapping out Westbrook for Irving.
There would still be a host of flaws with the Lakers’ roster, namely in the form of consistent shooting even as good as Irving is as a shooter. The potential inclusion of Joe Harris or Seth Curry could help solve that issue. Depending on the assets shipped out in a deal for Irving, the Lakers believe they could also complete a trade for someone like Buddy Hield, who would also help solve some of their shooting woes.
Even if everything plays out in an ideal sense with the Lakers acquiring Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry and Buddy Hield, it’s still hard to imagine them jumping up with the Warriors and Clippers, or the hated Celtics, who have +500 odds heading into the season.
Even in a non-ideal scenario, acquiring Kyrie is imperative for the Lakers to become legitimate title contenders again. Trading for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner — as opposed to Irving — would improve the Lakers, but it’s hard to argue it would vault them into legitimate title contention.
And if the Lakers’ focus is to maximize title contention — as it should be so long as LeBron James is on the roster — then going all-in on Kyrie and doing everything possible to acquire him should be the team’s primary focus. If they can make it happen, they’ll improve their championship odds and vault themselves right smack in the middle of all the title-contending teams.
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