Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Potential Kyrie Irving trade to Lakers not dead, Nets focused on Kevin Durant situation first, per report

The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have discussed making a major blockbuster trade this offseason as both teams have big-name point guards they’re looking to flip. The Lakers are trying to trade Russell Westbrook, who is owed $47 million and coming off his worst season as a pro. On the other side, the Nets want to move Kyrie Irving, who just missed the bulk of the 2021-22 season because of his refusal to comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate. Both players are set for unrestricted free agency next summer, and both would probably benefit from a change of scenery. 

So far, though, talks between the Lakers and Nets haven’t progressed very far, but they’re not completely dead, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. After all, there’s still plenty of offseason left. However, Wojnarowski says Irving’s future in Brooklyn largely depends on what happens with Kevin Durant, who requested a trade last month as the Nets are focused on resolving the Durant situation before they turn their attention to Irving. 

“There is a good chance Kyrie Irving is back in Brooklyn to start the season if Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn,” Wojnarowski said on Monday.  

Durant has four years remaining on his current contract, so the Nets have the leverage to take their time. As much as they might want to move on from Irving, doing so before they move Durant would make it virtually impossible for them to contend for a title in the event they wind up keeping the 2014 MVP. 

The Lakers have two tradable first-round picks: one in 2027 and another in 2029. The Lakers have been resistant to include them in trade negotiations, but a player of Irving’s caliber might represent an exception. Speaking of hesitance, the Nets would prefer not to take back Westbrook in a possible deal because of his exorbitant cap figure. The $11 million salary gap between the two point guards would cost Brooklyn over $50 million with luxury taxes factored in before considering the financial implications of a possible Durant trade. The San Antonio Spurs, with over $30 million in cap space, have been mentioned as a possible third team to take on Westbrook so that the Nets wouldn’t have to.

The Lakers have reportedly mulled deals with the Indiana Pacers (for Buddy Hield) and Houston Rockets (for Eric Gordon) to add shooting, but both players have much lower cap figures than Westbrook. Indiana could bridge that gap by including center Myles Turner, whom the Lakers have long coveted, but according to Marc Stein, they likely won’t have the assets to land both Turner and Hield. Multiple reports have suggested that LeBron James badly wants Irving to join him in Los Angeles.

Still. until the Durant situation is resolved, the Nets have no reason to rush. If a Durant trade comes, the Lakers should be able to make an Irving trade simply because the Nets would no longer have any reason to keep him. For now, though, the ball is in Brooklyn’s court.

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