As the Lakers and Nets reportedly discuss a Kyrie Irving deal, the Spurs have emerged as a potential third team that could help facilitate the trade.
While many view it as likely that the Lakers complete a deal for Irving, the details of it are still in question, and a third team could be included depending on the Nets’ interest in Russell Westbrook. On Thursday, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported that the Spurs could be that third team.
The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers have held preliminary discussions on a Kyrie Irving trade, and sources indicate the teams are exploring the potential of pulling the San Antonio Spurs into a multi-team deal.
The Lakers, who sources indicated are interested in moving out of Russell Westbrook into Irving, may need to be patient. Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring contract isn’t appealing to the Nets, who currently project to be above the league’s $150.3 million luxury tax threshold.
The Spurs represent one of only two remaining teams in the league that currently have cap space. Because of that, it’s quite a bit easier to piece together a trade using their remaining room given the huge contracts of Irving and Russell Westbrook.
Where things get murky is figuring out which players would be sent the Nets’ way because, well, the Spurs don’t have many good players. While Irving would go to the Lakers and Westbrook to the Spurs, there aren’t many obvious candidates to go from San Antonio to Brooklyn.
With $33.9 million in cap space, the Spurs wouldn’t have to send too much out to make things work financially, which does offer some flexibility. Are the Nets interested in a center like Jakob Poeltl? Keldon Johnson is a 22-year-old forward that has a good amount of promise if the Spurs can be convinced to part with him.
The Lakers had reported interest in Josh Richardson at the trade deadline last season when he was on the Celtics. Whether he would be included in the deal and potentially sent to the Lakers would remain to be seen, but there is a trail there.
The previously reported hold-up in the trade discussions centered around Joe Harris, who the Lakers didn’t want, and Seth Curry, who the Nets didn’t want to include. Is there a trade that would re-route Harris for someone like Richardson at the cost of an extra draft pick or asset from the Lakers?
For the Spurs, their commitment to tanking for Victor Wembanyama in the upcoming season — which includes letting Lonnie Walker IV walk to the Lakers — could make them one of the few teams that would play Westbrook next season. If Gregg Popovich wasn’t planning on retiring already, spending a year coaching Westbrook could send him over the edge.
There would be a sweet irony in Popovich and the Spurs finally completing a trade with the Lakers that would net them Westbrook and send Irving to Los Angeles. If it’s a deal that goes through, it’s the surest sign that they are fully committed to the tank.
Ultimately, it makes sense that the Lakers and Nets would seek to include the Spurs given their cap flexibility. However, whether the Spurs actually enter the negotiations between the Nets and Lakers is a big remaining question that is far from answered.