For 99% of teams and franchises in the league, welcoming in Kyrie Irving and the general nonsense that comes with him is wholly undesirable. The Lakers though, are the 1%.
Perhaps the biggest indictment of the Russell Westbrook situation is that Kyrie feels like a massive upgrade, both on and off the court. At least with Irving, the on-court impact can alleviate some of the stresses of the off-court drama.
But still, ultimately, desiring all the baggage that comes with Kyrie is basically insanity. And executives around the league share that view of the situation. In his latest newsletter, Dan Woike of the LA Times shared an incredibly hilarious and honest response from an NBA GM (emphasis mine):
But this situation is far from perfect, the Lakers forced to try and figure out if they can get good enough fast enough in a deal instead of waiting for the in-season trade deadline or the end of the season to deal with their Westbrook issues.
Asked what he’d do in their situation, one rival general manager just sighed.
While there is a right and wrong choice for the Lakers specifically when it comes to choosing Westbrook or Kyrie, to those outside of the Lakers’ sphere, both answers are bad.
Kyrie has torpedoed each of the last two franchises he’s been part of in Boston and Brooklyn, and that came after jumping ship from a LeBron-led team that was a title contender, even if it’s something he seems to regret.
And yet, teams keep taking a chance on him because he’s a remarkable player when he does take the court. He’s one of the very best guards of his generation. When it’s working, he’s nearly worth the headache.
None of that is true about Westbrook, though. He’s been passed around the league with each franchise more than happy to part ways with him after a season. The Lakers are the latest among them as Westbrook hit a new low last season, with his play dropping off a cliff and his self-awareness of the situation being non-existent.
The Lakers are now stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Neither option is particularly appealing to those on the outside looking in, and no one is envious of the decision the Lakers have to make.
Even from the inside looking out, all you can do is just sigh.