At this point, it seems fairly inevitable that eventually, the Brooklyn Nets will trade Kyrie Irving to Los Angeles to rejoin LeBron James. When that trade happens and what it ultimately looks like is still anyone’s guess, but given that every attempt to link other teams to interest in Irving or otherwise generate leverage almost immediately gets shot down by said teams, it would appear that the Lakers are essentially playing a game of musical chairs against themselves to end up as mercurial point guard’s next stop when this saga’s music ends.
And as this adventure unfolds, it sounds like for the second summer in a row, it’s James himself who is pushing as hard as anyone for a new co-star. Veteran NBA insider Marc Stein — in his latest Substack column — reported as much on Sunday (emphasis mine):
Brooklyn insists that talks are only preliminary at this point, but Chris Haynes’ report Saturday that the Nets and Lakers have discussed a Kyrie Irving trade only fueled what is already a widespread expectation that Irving is destined to end up with the Lakers.
I certainly believe that, too. I know Irving has been in Los Angeles this week, but that’s not the source of my confidence. It stems from repeated rumbles in circulation that LeBron James is rooting hard for Irving’s addition to the roster.
James, I’m told, wants to see Irving in Lakerland more than anyone. What other team, furthermore, has a LeBron-sized personality with the experience to cope with all the chaos that comes with adding Kyrie? James, remember, has often thrived in chaos.
This is not exactly a surprise — after all, replacing Westbrook with Irving might be James’ last real chance to build a winner in Los Angeles after last year’s debacle — but it is notable to have it confirmed. That interest from James is also just another reason to see this deal as a matter of not “if,” but “when.”
And to further Stein’s point, not only does James have experience teaming with Irving, but the Lakers are maybe the only team in the NBA who would feel confident enough to take on Irving, based on two other factors:
- Irving’s desire to be in Los Angeles, as no team is going to give up assets for him with one year left on his contract if they’re in a place he doesn’t want to be after... well, *gestures to last season*
- The fact that his presence would be a clear upgrade in terms of basketball fit over the team’s last starting point guard, and that there is no real compelling argument that even Irving’s perpetual unpredictability would be a downgrade from a locker room perspective, given who he’d be replacing in the team hierarchy.
For those reasons alone, the Lakers are likely bidding against themselves here, and have a variety of compelling motivations to get this done. If they’ll do so today, this week, or this month is still up in the air, but at this point, it’s hard not to see it happening. It just does not appear like there are any other options for anyone involved.