Perhaps in spite of themselves, the Lakers have put together a team with depth and talent that has helped at least keep them in the conversation for the play-in race through LeBron James’ injury. Days after trying to go all-in on Kyrie Irving, the Lakers pulled off a series of trades that brought in a host of players and reshaped the team.
While the trades were a net positive for the Lakers and reports have indicated their desire to run it back — and specifically not pursue Irving — the links to Kyrie haven’t stopped. In some senses, it’s fair to assume the Lakers would be interested considering their desire for a third star between LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the number of times they’ve pursued Irving.
In his latest substack letter, longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein was the latest the discuss the Irving/Lakers links.
The Lakers and the Suns are the most frequently mentioned likely Kyrie suitors in league circles, but getting a confirmed read this far out on whether either team intends to actually pursue him is no layup.
The Lakers decided against trying to outbid the Mavericks in trade talks for Irving leading up to the deadline and have since publicly described the lead guard they did acquire last month — D’Angelo Russell — as a player they hope to re-sign. The Suns, meanwhile, have had Durant in the lineup for all of three games since No. 35’s arrival. Phoenix is thus still assessing exactly what it is capable of as currently constructed, while there are also fresh questions about the eagerness of Durant and Irving to reunite in the desert given the great lengths they appeared to go to in avoiding each other when the Suns visited the Mavericks on March 5 for a nationally televised showdown at the American Airlines Center.
As Stein notes, the Lakers do have interest in re-signing D’Angelo Russell. They do have interest in re-signing Austin Reaves, a player they balked at including in a trade for Irving. They also were hesitant on signing Irving to a long-term extension, something he was not willing to budge on.
So it’s hard to put all those pieces together and come away with the conclusion the Lakers want Kyrie more than they want what they have. Maybe it’s true, but it wouldn’t really be based on any recent evidence.
The Lakers do have a star-chasing past but also won a title with LeBron, AD and a bunch of role players. It appears they want to continue that. Let’s hope that’s the truth, because the Lakers have explored the other route, and it wasn’t a particularly encouraging one.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.