A little over a week ago, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said that there was no asset he wouldn’t trade — including the team’s two currently tradeable first-round draft picks — if it made Los Angeles the “frontrunner” for a championship.
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not,” Pelinka said at the time (as transcribed by Sam Quinn of CBS Sports). “There’s no in-between or incremental growth. So as we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And I said this at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to get all the way to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource we’ll hold onto if we feel like that’s there.
“But at the same time, the completely unwise thing to do would be to shoot a bullet early and then not have it later when you have a better championship move to make. So that’s a really delicate calculus,” Pelinka continued. “If we see a move that puts us as a frontrunner to get another championship, the 18th one here, we’ll make it. And if that move doesn’t present itself, we’ll be smart and make it at a later time.”
And so with Kyrie Irving suddenly available to the Lakers again in the wake of his latest trade demand, whether or not a trade for him will meet that standard is something to think about as we all try to predict what the team will do, and how much they’ll offer the Brooklyn Nets for Irving.
Unsurprisingly, Lakers star and known Irving advocate LeBron James thinks a deal for his former Cavaliers teammate would meet that criteria, and after the team’s Saturday night loss to the Pelicans, he made it clear he thinks it’s a pretty obvious conclusion, too (emphasis mine):
Reporter: (Rob Pelinka said he would) part with any assets they had available if you could get to the finish line towards a championship with a deal. Is Kyrie Irving the type of player that could help your team get to the finish line?
LeBron: “That’s a Rob question. You guys will see him when you get back to L.A. ... I don’t speak for our front office, and my mindset with whatever lineup or whatever group that we have is to make sure that we prepare ourselves the best way we can to go out and win. Obviously, that’s a, the word you use, ‘duh’ question when you’re talking about a player like that.”
You can watch video of the exchange, courtesy of Jovan Buha of The Athletic, below:
LeBron James on if Kyrie Irving is the type of player that can help the Lakers get to the finish line: pic.twitter.com/EAbcLtcPjB— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 5, 2023
This is, of course, not the first time this season that a noticeably frustrated James has tried to deflect a question about whether he wants the Lakers to trade their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks for immediate help by telling the media to ask Pelinka. But when asked about a player this specifically, it’s also not surprising he couldn’t help but make his own feelings crystal clear there at the very end.
So between this clip, and Pelinka himself volunteering that he still consults James and co-star Anthony Davis on potential moves, it’s safe to assume the embattled GM knows exactly where the soon-to-be leading scorer in NBA history stood on this question even before this interview.
Now, will that cajoling from James be enough to push a move over the finish line? To quote a very tired 38-year-old superstar: That’s a Rob question.
For all the latest heading into the NBA trade deadline, check out our Silver Screen and Roll Lakers trade rumors tracker.