After a disappointing and anger-filled 2018-19 NBA season with the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving is slated to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
It’s been rumored the Los Angeles Lakers will be a major player for his services in an effort to reunite the championship duo of Irving and LeBron James.
Irving is set to be one of the top free agents on the market and certainly the best point guard available. However, after the 2019 NBA playoffs with the Celtics in which he struggled mightily to score and lead his young teammates, it seems his value may be slipping following their conference semifinals series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Several sources around the league have some concerns about Irving, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald:
“The most interesting bit of information from several sources that we’ve been able to consolidate and confirm is that some teams thought to have interest in Irving as a free agent are now a great deal more wary. Based on the way things played out with the Celtics this season and Irving’s role both off the court all year and on it in the playoff loss to Milwaukee, certain clubs are concerned about putting too many eggs in his basket right away.”
In addition, there are two teams — the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers — that will have two max-contract slots available, but there is some uncertainty:
“Two teams for certain are telling people they will only go after him if they land another marquee free agent and that player says he wants Irving. In each of these cases, the initial target is different. (There was worry on one of those clubs that the basketball ops people might be overruled by ownership and told to make Irving a primary aim, but that organization is now on the same page.)”
The Lakers are one of nine teams that will have a max-contract slot available and one of seven that will have just one of them. As a result, it is fair to ask if they are one of the teams ‘wary’ of signing Irving.
It’s clear the Lakers will have their aim set on a higher target — perhaps Kawhi Leonard — at first. However, if Leonard makes it clear he has no indication of signing with them, it will be interesting to see if they shift their focus to Irving, Jimmy Butler, or Kemba Walker.
Whether this report is true or not, it seems that Irving’s free agency will be an extremely interesting one to watch — and one that may have a huge ripple effect on the league’s landscape come July, especially for the Lakers.