The Los Angeles Lakers and the league at large continue to remain at a standstill in the free agency department with everyone’s eyes set on Brooklyn.
However, just because nothing has really happened yet with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving doesn’t mean there aren’t any new developments surrounding the trade discussions surrounding each superstar.
In regards to the latter figure of the Nets’ disgruntled duo, here are the latest headlines and rumors regarding the Lakers’ pursuit to bring Kyrie to Los Angeles:
Kyrie Irving seems destined to be a Laker
Although negotiations between the Lakers and Nets have seemingly stalled as a third team such as the Spurs might need to get involved, all rumors coming out still point towards Kyrie eventually joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers.
And although it it hasn’t actually happened just yet, it seems as if a trade was almost made over the 4th of July weekend — if reports from SNY’s Ian Begley are to be believed.
Here’s what he said while joining Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer in a Callin episode of “Please Don’t Aggregate This” (emphasis mine):
“I know that some people with the Lakers, they felt there was pretty good momentum towards getting something to the finish line, close to the finish line, on Russell Westbrook and Kyrie last weekend. And obviously, it falls apart and maybe that has to do with what the Nets ultimately want from that transaction. But it just shows you how many different pieces have to fall into place to actually get something done here.”
Normally, doubt may settle in if a week passes after teams fail to consummate a deal, but the Lakers still seem to be in the driver's seat to acquire Kyrie Irving given the fact that by all accounts they are still the only interested party.
Here’s what the newly-memed, possibly omniscient Brian Windhorst had to say yesterday on ESPN’s “Get Up” about recent reports of the 76ers or Mavericks possibly joining the Lakers as suitors for a Kyrie trade (h/t to our friends at Nets Daily for the transcription):
“We have heard more in the last week about teams that have no interest in Kyrie than we have about teams that do have interest,” he said. “There was some reports that maybe Philly, maybe Dallas, and those teams very quickly pushed back on it. ‘No, no, no, no. We don’t want him.’”
“So if you’re the Lakers, I’m saying, ‘Who we bidding against? Why should we include those things? Who are we bidding against? Why shouldn’t we protect those picks? Do you have another offer to make us change our stance?’ And that’s the position the Lakers are taking.”
All the rumors coming out now seem to indicate that the hold-up stems from the particulars of a deal, not the principals. Maybe the Nets would prefer a third team take on Westbrook, or they simply aren’t ready to move Kyrie until they’ve solved their Kevin Durant problem (more on that in a bit).
Either way, this much seems certain: Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and the Lakers want this to happen.
“Kyrie Irving absolutely wants to be a Los Angeles Laker,” said Brian Windhorst. “This we know. The Lakers want Kyrie Irving.”
Lending some credence to this idea is the fact that Kyrie sure is spending a whole lot of time in Los Angeles right now. He appeared at the BET Awards a week ago, L.A. Times reporter Brad Turner indicated on Marc Stein’s Spotify Live session that he was recently playing pick-up games with other NBA players in the city, and he made a public appearance last night at an L.A. Sparks game (pictured below).
It may be just another case of an NBA player spending his offseason in the sunny City of Angels... or... he could just be biding his time there until the trade is official and he can take a short trip to the Lakers’ facilities for his introductory press conference. Personally, with absolutely no shred of bias, I’ll choose to believe it’s the latter.
LeBron James hates draft picks
Even before the possibility of trading for Kyrie Irving was presented to the Lakers, it had been reported that the team was hesitant to cough up draft compensation to get rid of Russell Westbrook. It remains a talking point, but, to the surprise of no one, there’s one guy within the Lakers who doesn’t mind parting with more first-round picks: LeBron James.
Brian Windhorst had this to say on “Get Up” about The King’s lack of interest in protecting the Lakers’ future assets (h/t Jonathan Sherman and Lakers Daily):
“I can’t articulate how little LeBron cares about the Lakers’ 2029 first-round pick,” he said, spurring hearty chuckles from his fellow pundits. “He’s never cared about first-round draft picks. He doesn’t care about first-round draft picks when they’re on his team. He wants to win tonight, and Kyrie Irving gives him a chance tonight.”
Like I said, this isn’t exactly breaking news. LeBron James won’t be in the NBA let alone on the Lakers in 2029 (unless he is truly a cyborg). Why would he concern himself with the future costs of championship contention in the present? He will continue to live by the mantra of Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead when it comes to the valuation of first-round draft picks.
Kevin Durant trade likely to come before Kyrie Irving trade
While Ian Begley was talking to Jake Fischer today, he noted the following in regards to the timing of a theoretical Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trade:
“I think, and Jake, I don’t know where you stand on it, but... there’s no world where Kyrie Irving gets dealt before Kevin Durant...”
This seems to be a popular idea amongst reporters covering this situation, with the L.A. Times’ Brad Turner indicating the very same while on one of Marc Stein’s Spotify Live episodes (emphasis mine):
“I do think at some point before we get to camp, Kyrie is playing for the Lakers. How it works, how they do it, (I don’t know). The Lakers just have to be patient. Because from everything I’ve read and what I’ve been told, the Nets will not do anything regarding Kyrie until they trade Kevin Durant. And once that happens, then they’re more willing to engage with the Lakers or any other team that wants to get him.”
This, along with the fact that a third team may end up getting involved, suggests that it could be a while before either deal gets done.
So put your “Kyrie Irving is a Laker!” parties on hold for the time being as this deal, if completed, may not come to fruition until we get a little deeper into the summer.