The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly believe a seven-time All-Star and NBA champion will join them next season.
According to an August 23 report from Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, the Lakers “still feel like” Kyrie Irving will be with them in 2023-24.
“You talk to people in Los Angeles, they still really feel like Kyrie is coming to them next year,” Schiffer said on The Athletic NBA Show. “I’m curious how that will turn out with the recent events.”
Irving will earn $36.5 million in 2022-23 and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023. The Brooklyn Nets announced on August 23 that two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant would not be swapped after meeting owner Joe Tsai, head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks in Los Angeles. Since Durant and Irving are best friends, Irving probably won’t be traded this summer.
LeBron James ‘bad’ wanted Lakers to replace Russell Westbrook with Irving
According to a July 29 report by Marc Stein of Substack, LeBron James wanted the Lakers to trade for Irving. Stein also reported that Russell Westbrook was aware of James’ desire to play with Irving.
“As it stands, as a trade to ship Westbrook suddenly merging after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham will not be coached, which will certainly be an extreme challenge as Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers worked hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James really wants Irving to take his place.”
James and Irving played together in 183 regular season games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a record of 132-51. The two All-Stars also went 39-13 in the playoffs, leading the Cavaliers to the 2016 Championship over the Golden State Warriors in seven games.
Irving applied for a trade with the Cavaliers in 2017 because he reportedly no longer wanted to play with James. However, Shams Charania of The Athletic told Pat McAfee on the June 20 episode of “The Pat McAfee Showthat the two stars still have a solid relationship.
Schiffer: Lakers could still get Irving in 2022-23
Schiffer, who covers the Nets, still thinks the Lakers could get Irving in 2022-23 if Brooklyn struggles. Durant met Tsai in London and asked for Nash and Marks to resign in early August. Mark W. Sanchez and Josh Kosman of The New York Post reported on August 8 that Irving isn’t a fan of Nash or Marks either.
“I’ve still wondered if the Nets season goes by with Kyrie being an attractive rental piece for someone on the deadline, will they trade a deal to get assets back for him?” Schiffer speculated. “I don’t necessarily think today’s news takes it off the table.”
Irving appeared in 29 games for the Nets last season, averaging 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The Duke product didn’t make its 2021-22 season debut until January because it refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Lakers could compete for the title if they take on Irving, who is a better marksman than Westbrook. Irving is a 39.3% off-arch career shooter while Westbrook is at 30.5%.
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