Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t ruled out an offseason pursuit of Kyrie Irving following his trade to the Dallas Mavericks, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
Mannix reported L.A. maintains “strong interest in signing [Irving].” To that end, the team could keep Russell Westbrook through Thursday’s NBA trade deadline rather than include him in a deal that would add money to the payroll for the 2023-24 season.
From the Mavericks’ perspective, this is one of the many risks to acquiring the eight-time All-Star, whose run with the Brooklyn Nets included his declining to get the COVID-19 vaccine last season, causing him to miss significant time.
He also promoted an antisemitic film earlier this season via social media and ultimately served an eight-game suspension for doing so and failing to disavow its message. Following the trade to Dallas, he subsequently deleted his apology addressing the latter.
Those factors will undoubtedly be considered by any teams chasing him this summer.
NBA insider Marc Stein described the Lakers as Irving’s “preferred destination,” reporting how Nets majority governor Joe Tsai preferred trading him anywhere but L.A.
Irving will be a free agent in the offseason, so there’s nothing stopping him from leaving Dallas and taking a team-friendly deal to join with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers.
But the partnership is far from a fait accompli.
The 30-year-old also had the opportunity to head to the West Coast ahead of this season. That would’ve required him to take a steep pay cut, and he picked up his $36.5 million player option instead.
If Irving were to join the Lakers this time, he wouldn’t need to make quite the same sacrifice, but he’d still have to leave some money on the table. Per Spotrac, L.A. is projected to have up to $35.9 million in salary-cap space.
The Lakers only have four players under contract for next season, so they’d presumably have a firm cap on what they’d offer Irving.
During Friday’s edition of NBA Today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst also reported their front office wasn’t enamored with the idea of putting a full max contract on the table in the event the team acquired him from Brooklyn.
A breakdown in contract negotiations was the final straw in Irving’s relationship with Brooklyn.
Pat McAfee @PatMcAfeeShow”The Nets offered Kyrie Irving a contract extension that had some stipulations in it.. I’m told that his side was vehemently against any stipulations in an extension”@ShamsCharania dives into Kyrie Irving’s trade request #PMSLive pic.twitter.com/xBVFmM1jHA
Maybe the 6’2″ guard was basically done with the Nets and looking for a reason to request a trade. If finances continue to be one of his biggest focuses as a free agent, though, then the odds of him landing in Los Angeles might be smaller than people realize.
Source : Bleacher Report