2019 NBA free agency began with a bang and the first big dominoes that dropped were Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving deciding to join the Brooklyn Nets. Though Durant was never a realistic target for the Los Angeles Lakers, Irving was someone the team considered as a strong possibility.
Throughout the 2018-19 NBA season, there were rumblings about a reunion between James and Irving being a real possibility that started with the latter openly speaking about how he had reached out to the former.
When the Lakers cleared out the necessary cap room for a max-contract slot, Irving was one of the first names to be brought up.
In the end, Irving went to Brooklyn which had long been rumored to be the favorites to land his services. And even though Irving didn’t come to Los Angeles, he did speak with James before making the decision, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James have spoken since the end of their respective seasons.
As Irving said, the two were back on good terms and with such a big decision coming up, the two had a conversation. James has been open about being willing to recruit players to the Lakers if that was needed.
But in this case, there was never any real recruitment as it was always apparent that Irving was Brooklyn-bound, via Vardon:
But the conversation, while cordial and casual, sources said, never elevated to the level of LeBron trying to convince Kyrie to re-join him on the Lakers, because of one unmistakable truth: Irving was always headed to Brooklyn.
From the looks of things, this was simply a matter of a couple of friends talking amongst themselves, but if it was apparent that Irving would ultimately be a Brooklyn Net, there was no need for James to try and recruit him. For now, all of the focus is on the one big name remaining in free agency: Kawhi Leonard.
In addition to Irving and Durant, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, and D’Angelo Russell have all agreed to deals as well leaving Leonard as the lone All-Star player remaining on the market. Reports have the Lakers seemingly in the lead to land him, but anything is possible in this landscape.
It may not have worked out in this instance, but James obviously is reaching out and getting a feel of the landscape for the Lakers this summer.