The Lakers’ determined pursuit of Kyrie Irving has been one of the biggest storylines around the league this offseason. Since the Brooklyn Nets point guard and Kevin Durant decided that they wanted to depart from the organization, the Lakers have been the only serious suitor for Irving’s services.
That’s partially because Irving’s camp has made it known that Los Angeles is his desired destination, but while there’s clearly mutual interest between him and LeBron James in a potential reunion, it seems some within the Lakers front office may be less enthused by the idea.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, some members in the organization prefer trading for Indiana Pacers veterans Myles Turner and Buddy Hield instead (via “The Athletic NBA Show”):
“There’s a stalemate right now, really between multiple teams. The league is kinda in a gridlock right now with this whole Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving situation. I think particularly for the Lakers with Russ and Kyrie, from what I’ve heard the Nets’ plan right now is to move KD first before moving Kyrie, so I don’t think you’re going to see a Kyrie deal happen until KD gets moved.
“On top of that, they [the Nets] don’t want to take back Russell Westbrook, and they want at least one pick back. The Lakers have been hesitant to give up that draft capital... I know that they’ve looked around at Indiana. ‘Can we get a Myles Turner and a Buddy Hield?’”
So, in short, it looks like some within the Lakers front office and LeBron James aren’t on the same page for the second summer in a row (where have we seen this story before?). And as 21st-century social media truthers, it’s easy and tempting to connect the dots between Jeanie Buss’ subtle out-of-nowhere tweet on the night of July 3 to all the recent developing reports, as Buha pointed out:
“With Kyrie, I know he wants to be in L.A., I know LeBron wants him in L.A., he’s been behind the scenes putting some pressure. I don’t want to get too into it, but I think the Jeanie Buss tweet had something to do with some of the stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes... I think there’s a slight divide right now where LeBron wants Kyrie and some people internally might prefer a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield-type deal.”
There’s certainly a lot to unpack here. First, based on the reports, it’s clear that the Lakers are trying to ship out Russell Westbrook, even if they spent the last two months telling the world that they plan to run it back with their point guard. Second, the Lakers might also be trying to create leverage against the Nets by leaking that their Plan B is to trade for Hield and Turner, a deal that Dave McMenamin of ESPN just reported is at the very least not imminent.
.@Mcten: “In the background the Lakers and Pacers have talked about a multiplayer trade. Those talks went nowhere since the Pacers felt the Lakers weren’t offering enough in return. Is this an additional trade to Kyrie or a backup plan?”— Lakers Vino (@VinoUncorked) July 9, 2022
So here lies the Lakers in the middle of their crucial offseason trying to navigate their way around it. All the negotiation talks, Plan B’s, leaks, and even disagreements between two camps are part of the process, especially if it entails trading someone like Westbrook (or at this point his contract) for another massive piece (or pieces).
That said, how much longer James and the Lakers front office will partner with one another beyond this season remains a mystery, but if they want to ace the next few weeks of the offseason and keep everyone satisfied, they need to get on the same page ASAP. Until then, things are just going to continue to be awkward:
Read into this what you will, but LeBron and Russ are sitting on complete opposite sides of the gym right now lol— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) July 9, 2022
someone didn't tell LeBron that Westbrook was also going to be in attendance pic.twitter.com/r9VMXngoFr— SB Nation (@SBNation) July 9, 2022
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