The NBA offseason slowed down to a halt when Kevin Durant asked out from the Brooklyn Nets, forcing teams to evaluate trade packages that have impacted other free agents and trade targets.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been chasing after Kyrie Irving in a potential Russell Westbrook swap, but so far the sentiment around the league is that the Nets would prefer to find a resolution on Durant first before moving their other star. After Brooklyn and Irving failed to agree on a contract extension, the latter opted into the last year of his deal and will hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
The Lakers’ interest in Irving is understandable given his natural fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. As a scoring genius and elite outside shooter, Irving would raise Los Angeles’ ceiling considerably and bring them back into the title contender conversation.
Despite the distractions that come with rostering Irving, he is still held in high regard by coaches around the league. For example, Lakers assistant Phil Handy had no problem comparing Irving to Kobe Bryant, via Basketball Forever:
“If Kyrie was 6’6, you would see Kobe mirrored back at you." – Lakers assistant Phil Handy
— Basketball Forever (@Bballforeverfb) August 2, 2022
Handy has worked with both Bryant and Irving and has seen how talented and skilled each of them are up close. Bryant was known for his mastery of basketball fundamentals, which allowed him to play 20 years in the NBA, and Irving has an argument as one of the most technically sound players in today’s game.
The connection between Handy and Irving remains strong as the star point guard was recently seen running drills at the assistant coach’s basketball camp. Hopefully there’s movement on a Durant trade soon which will allow Irving to reunite with Handy for the upcoming season.
Kyrie Irving shares video of Kobe Bryant complimenting his shooting
After retiring, Bryant went on to break down teams and players for audiences to see how he looked at and processed the game of basketball. In one video, Bryant examined Irving’s shooting ability, which the guard later shared on his Twitter account.
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