Leading up to the Feb. 9 trade deadline, all eyes will be on the Brooklyn Nets to see what they do with Kyrie Irving after he requested to be dealt.
All eyes will also be on the Los Angeles Lakers are they look for roster upgrades and have made it clear that they are interested in acquiring Irving to reunite with LeBron James and pair with Anthony Davis.
Whether or not the two teams will be able to get a deal done remains to be seen, however. Irving has other known suitors such as the L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, and the Nets are believed to be looking for win-now pieces which doesn’t include Russell Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks.
Then there is the contract aspect of all of this. Irving asked out of Brooklyn in the first place because they were not willing to give him a full max extension. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers may be hesitant to give him the full max as well which could derail a potential deal:
According to a source with knowledge of the Lakers’ discussions with Brooklyn, a significant obstacle emerged in the early stages of the talks between the Lakers and the Nets. The source, who was granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the Lakers were only looking to give the Nets the kind of return they’re requesting if Irving was willing to accept the two-year, $78.6 million extension they could immediately agree on as part of the deal.
The two first-round picks (2027 and ’29) and promising young players like Austin Reaves and Max Christie (to go along with the expiring contract of Russell Westbrook) might all be in play if the Lakers knew that Irving was willing to align his contract with that of James, his old Cavs friend and lead recruiter who is signed through the summer of 2025 (he has a player option in the 2024-25 season).
But Irving strongly prefers to play his current contract out with his hypothetical new team and sign a four-year, $198 million maximum salary deal that would be available to him this summer (because the team trading for him would also acquire his Bird rights). That revelation wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was an eyebrow-raiser. The Lakers, the source said, would offer significantly less in a deal if it’s clear Irving was only guaranteed to be a second-half rental.
Given Irving’s past, it makes sense that the Lakers would be hesitant to guarantee him a full max. A two-year extension that lines up with James and Davis’ contracts would be L.A.’s preference, but Irving doesn’t seem to want that and the Lakers don’t appear to be willing to acquire Irving as a rental and allow him to test free agency this summer which is when he would be able to sign for four years.
If that is the case then Irving may end up elsewhere at the deadline, although a lot can change between now and Thursday, especially with James pushing for a deal to get done and the Lakers being desperate to get back into contention.
Will Lakers be willing to trade Reaves and/or Christie?
According to the above report by Amick, the Lakers may now be willing to include Austin Reaves and/or Max Christie to sweeten their offer to the Nets. That contradicts a previous report that said they weren’t willing to talk about their two young players, although things are constantly changing during the negotiating process.
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