As the Nets and Lakers reach an impasse when it comes to agreeing on a Kyrie Irving trade, all involved parties continue to jockey for leverage outside of the direct negotiations that began well before last week’s trade deadline. The two sides are apparently stuck on the details around the trade and whether Joe Harris or Seth Curry come the Lakers way in the deal.
Now, the Nets appear to be making it clear they don’t think they need to trade Kyrie...much like the Lakers have suggested Russell Westbrook will be on their opening day roster and that he will focus on being an impactful defensive player.
Here’s a look at the most recent reports and rumors on the potential trade.
Lack of traction
Based on the amount of reporting, it seems pretty clear the Lakers and Nets at least had some discussions. The semantics of exactly what was discussed and the purported tenor of the negotiation is still up for debate, but they’ve definitely happened.
On that note, just how far those discussions have gone remains up in the air as Shams Charania of The Athletic stated on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Tuesday.
To say there is no traction feels like a bit of an overstatement, though. Again, it’s this debate on semantics surrounding the discussions. Are they preliminary? Do they have traction? Very few people know the actual answer to any of that and even then those that do have legitimate insight might disagree.
Is a trade inevitable?
Part of what has made the trade feel like such a certainty is how Kyrie has burned bridges in Brooklyn throughout the last calendar year. From sitting out the majority of the season because of a refusal to get a vaccine shot to flirting with the idea of leaving them this offseason, it does feel inevitable that his days with the Nets are done...
...or one would think.
According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets are weighing the possibility of just trading neither of Irving or Kevin Durant (emphasis mine).
With tons of offers for Durant, but none they couldn’t refuse and no rush to move him, the Nets are putting out the vibe that they could bring the forward (and maybe even Irving) into camp and see if all parties can make this work. Or if not, all play nice until a world-beating trade proposal is made.
The Lakers are desperate to move Russell Westbrook and his gargantuan $47 million contract for Irving, but are hesitating to include the multiple draft picks the Nets would want for taking on all that money.
Yahoo Sports and The Athletic reported in the past week that the Nets could solve the problem by including Joe Harris in any Irving-Westbrook swap.
Honestly, if the Nets are considering this, go for it. Objectively, the funniest outcome would be the Nets pretending none of this happened and just heading into training camp and the preseason like everything was fine.
Realistically, this is probably what many fans felt when the Lakers talked about bringing back Russell Westbrook, but the Nets’ internal drama feels even more laughably unsolvable.
Durant went to the owner to ask for a trade, Kyrie held the franchise hostage for at least a few days.
But, yeah, everything is fine.
Pelinka’s forced hand
LeBron James’ desire to team up with Kyrie Irving again certainly holds some weight in the likelihood of their potential reunion. The two are a title-winning duo, but obviously, things ended prematurely in Cleveland. Running it back in Los Angeles could give those former champs a second chance to win it all, all over again.
And that potential alone might be enough to push the Lakers far enough to making sure a deal gets done. During Marc Stein’s Spotify Live on Sunday, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report shared his thoughts regarding the dynamic of LeBron pushing for Kyrie.
“LeBron is very much about Kyrie coming back and I don’t think that Rob Pelinka has the juice, so to speak, to decide the Lakers are going to pivot away from Kyrie Irving (who) LeBron has basically pushed to make happen or at least agreed to make happen.”
LeBron doesn’t have a perfect track record with pushing for specific superstars, given the fact that he angled for a Russ trade just last offseason. However, he’s the same guy that pushed for Anthony Davis, so he’s effectively shot 50% during his Laker tenure so far with this possible move swinging the needle in either direction.
For a number of reasons, Pelinka probably doesn’t have a ton of leverage to say no to LeBron. For one, it’s LeBron who is entering the final year of his deal and is extension-eligible this summer. The Lakers are in a spot where they don’t necessarily have to bend over backward for LeBron, but also can’t really afford to just straight up say no to him.
Pelinka’s lack of leverage has landed him in an unenviable position, but it likely means he has to listen to LeBron on this one — which might not be the worst thing for the Lakers.