As 2019 NBA free agency gets underway on June 30, the Los Angeles Lakers’ main focus remains on finding a third All-Star player to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
As time goes by, their options seem to be dwindling. While nothing is official yet, Klay Thompson is expected to sign a max contract with the Golden State Warriors and Kemba Walker looks to be poised to sign with the Boston Celtics.
The team’s top option all along has been Kawhi Leonard and they have a meeting scheduled with him when free agency officially begins on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps their next best option is Kyrie Irving as it was recently reported that they are still showing interest in him despite pursuing Leonard.
While the Lakers have interest in Irving, the feeling may not be mutual. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the Lakers are expecting Irving to sign with the Brooklyn Nets:
Also, according to a source, while the Lakers ostensibly would love to have Kyrie Irving, it is the belief of one of their top recruiters that Kyrie is headed to Brooklyn
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) June 29, 2019
The Nets were always the primary destination for Irving when it became clear that he was not going to return to the Boston Celtics. Brooklyn has enough cap space to sign two max-contract players, so they are hoping that signing Irving could help with their recruitment of Kevin Durant.
One other domino effect of Irving potentially signing with the Nets is that could lead to them renouncing D’Angelo Russell, which would benefit the Lakers as they then can pursue him as an unrestricted free agent. If the Lakers aren’t able to lure Leonard to Los Angeles, then Russell could become their No. 2 option.
Russell’s max contract would cost around $27 million per season, so the Lakers would still be able to save some space for another role player if they signed him.
With a few of the top players available presumably already off the board, it could be a quick-moving free agency period this year, making the first 24-48 hours beginning on Sunday that much more exciting.