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If Kyrie Irving leaves the Brooklyn Nets, he’ll probably be suiting up in Purple and Gold through the next phase of his career.
“All indications” are that the LA Lakers are Irving’s “top destination” if he leaves the Nets, based on the Athletic’s Jovan Buha, whether that’s in a trade this season or next year in free agency.
Irving opted directly into his $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign and can become an unrestricted free agent by the end of the growing season. Buha added that since there’s currently too little fascination with trading for him round the league that “it looks like the Lakers are his probably free-agent option next summer, apart from the Nets.”
In early July, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported the Nets and Lakers were “actively engaged” in preliminary trade discussions centered around Irving and Russell Westbrook and that there is “palpable optimism” a deal could possibly be reached this offseason.
However, Haynes also noted that the Nets “aren’t likely to be rushed right into a deal and can continue conversing the complex specifics with the Lakers on an Irving-Westbrook swap.”
Since that time, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported late last month on NBA Today (h/t Jared Greenspan of the NY Post) that there is “no traction” on an Irving-Westbrook swap and that talks had stalled out.
Irving has been from the Lakers for a lot of the summertime since ESPN’s Steve A. Smith reported in June that the veteran point guard wished to synergy with LeBron James again in L.A. “the moment he are able to.”
The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Alex Schiffer and Joe Vardon also reported that Irving was centered on joining the Lakers even before he opted directly into his 2022-23 contract with the Nets. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst added that Irving would have to first wait until Kevin Durant, who requested a trade, was moved.
Nonetheless, it’s no real surprise the Lakers want in adding Irving as he’d be an upgrade over Westbrook, who had an abysmal first season with the Purple and Gold, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the ground and 29.8 percent from deep.
Irving, who wasn’t permitted to play in home games for a lot of the 2021-22 season because of NY City’s vaccination mandate for indoor arenas, still averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 46.9 percent from the ground and 41.8 percent from deep last season.
Putting the seven-time All-Star alongside James, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, and Anthony Davis would supply the Lakers an improved chance at contending for an NBA title in a hardcore Western Conference that saw them skip the playoffs last season.