For the last nine months, the Lakers have remained conservative regarding trade negotiations. Time and time again, the Lakers have resisted including the oft-discussed first round draft picks in trades, resulting in lots of talk and little action. Even the one trade they completed for Rui Hachimura was one that was such a good deal, it was nearly impossible to turn it down and it didn’t cost the team anything more than second round picks.
But Kyrie Irving looks to represent the exception.
The Lakers appear ready to finally go all-in on Kyrie after his trade request at the start of the weekend...with a caveat.
Dating back to last summer, the Lakers have circled Irving and the Nets with the hopes of pouncing on Kyrie’s indecisiveness and landing the All-Star guard. With the opportunity presenting itself now, though, the team is ready to pull the trigger on another trade, but only under their specific circumstances.
According to Dan Woike of the LA Times, the Lakers’ only hesitancy about dealing for Irving is their desire to sign him to a 2-year while Irving wants a 4-year contract.
Changes could be coming — the trade deadline is Thursday. But after a day of rampant speculation, there’s pessimism that the Lakers will swing a deal for Kyrie Irving, because of the star Brooklyn point guard’s contract demands in free agency this summer, sources with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly told The Times.
Irving is expected to seek a four-year maximum contract, with the Lakers preferring a two-year deal, aligning with the two years remaining on James’ deal.
The two-year contract would line him up with LeBron’s current contract, which makes sense and feels fair. Kyrie has been wholly unreliable in recent years of his career and no team, the Lakers included, should be offering up a four-year commitment to him.
But if the two sides can come to an agreement on the length of the deal — which feels like no small feat to be fair — then the Lakers have everything on the table. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that all draft picks as well as young players Austin Reaves and Max Christie are on the block to get the deal done.
The two first-round picks (2027 and ’29) and promising young players like Austin Reaves and Max Christie (to go along with the expiring contract of Russell Westbrook) might all be in play if the Lakers knew that Irving was willing to align his contract with that of James, his old Cavs friend and lead recruiter who is signed through the summer of 2025 (he has a player option in the 2024-25 season).
The phrasing does feel important in saying “might all be in play” but the fact it’s a possibility is noteworthy. There are a couple of lines of thought when it comes to putting everything on the table.
It does feel counterproductive to hold out all the draft picks and young players of trade talks to finally pull the trigger on Kyrie, of all players. He’s someone who is talented but comes with an insane amount of baggage on and off the court. Committing all of your long-term assets to him is quite the risk.
On the other hand, the messaging all along was that the team was waiting to go all-in on an All-Star and would not compromise on that. Kyrie is an All-Star and, objectively, there’s not going to be a more talented player they could acquire, though, again, he’s the highest form of a headache as there will be.
It’s also worth noting that previous reporting had indicated that the Lakers weren’t willing to include Reaves and Christie in a trade.
It’s a calculation the Lakers are going to have to make, but one they may have already come to a consensus on. The risk-reward is going to be analyzed as much as the on-court vs. off-court benefits and risks.