As the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets engage in trade talks centered around Kyrie Irving, both the perpetually disgruntled All-Star and his likely trade counterpart, Russell Westbrook, initially appeared on track to sit out of their respective games on Saturday.
The Lakers downgraded Westbrook to “questionable” on the injury report for their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans with what the team is terming a “non-COVID illness,” but he was later announced as available about half an hour before the game. The Nets, however, announced that Irving would sit out against the Washington Wizards with “calf soreness,” did not participate in their morning walkaround, and were not sure if he’d be at the game.
Vaughn says he is approaching Kyrie’s absence as a day to day situation. He’s not sure when he will be able to play again.— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 4, 2023
Obviously his calf is just really sore. Please do not write any other possible reasons he would not be at the game.
Both downgrades came in the aftermath of Irving’s trade request on Friday and reports from earlier the same day that the Lakers have had conversations recently about trading Westbrook to the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers are surely searching for continued upgrades to their lineup around LeBron James and Anthony Davis following their January addition of Rui Hachimura, sources said, and have held conversations with both Utah and Charlotte regarding trading Russell Westbrook and the final year of his $47 million salary. It’s been repeated by league personnel that Miami has little regard for swapping Kyle Lowry for Westbrook.
Yesterday, Fischer was the latest to link Hornets guard Terry Rozier as a potential Westbrook swap target, but confirming that the Lakers have actually spoken with Charlotte about such a deal lately is still notable in the midst of all this (as is his confirmation that the Heat still would only want Westbrook in a buyout market addition).
Irving sitting out will only lend fuel to the fire of speculation both within the NBA and outside of it that an Irving to the Lakers swap could be imminent, but it is also at least theoretically possible that the Nets just don’t want to make this tire fire worse by having Irving speak to the media postgame, as he would be required to do if he played.
And if both players sit out at the same time as the Feb. 9 deadline for deals approaches, however... well, LeBron James and Phil Handy won’t be the only ones tweeting cryptic eyes emojis.
For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.