Lakers Rumors: Kyrie Irving Planning On Joining L.A. In Free Agency In 2023 To Wear Same Uniform As Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving
Brian Babineau-NBAE

Start reposting your memes — Kyrie Irving becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers is once again a real possibility.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant requesting a trade Thursday opened the seemingly shut door of Irving joining the Purple and Gold. Laker fans didn’t have enough time to process moving on from Kyrie before it was back on again.

Earlier in the week, the Lakers seemed to be front runners to trade for the All-NBA guard, becoming the only team inquiring with Brooklyn to acquire him. The Lakers were more interested in signing Irving as a free agent, however, rather than trading for him. But, Irving’s decision to pick up his player option for next season put the Lakers trade hopes to rest Monday.

Three days later, everything is back to square one — Irving expressing his desire for a move to join the Lakers. Shortly after Durant’s request became public, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered more insight about Irving’s plans, via NBA Today:

“Kyrie Irving is telling everybody he plans on going to L.A., meaning the Lakers as soon as he possibly can. The likelihood is that he would have to go through this season and then when he becomes a free agent after this upcoming season is over, he plans on re-joining LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Irving’s interest in the Lakers is evident and signing him next summer could be the L.A.’s best chance. What’s more clear here is that the Lakers may still not have enough to entice the Nets in dealing Irving away.

Westbrook has become an immovable object for Brooklyn as they are uninterested in the former MVP. Including Westbrook in a deal for Irving makes the most sense for L.A. because of his contract. If you can’t include him in a deal, that doesn’t leave much room to operate.

Making his desire to be on the Lakers obvious is a strong leverage play for Irving. He forces Brooklyn to put aside other offers from teams and only accept the Lakers trade offer. It’s risky for someone who played just over 20 games last season. Anthony Davis did a similar move before joining the Lakers in 2019.

Many believe the lure of reuniting with LeBron James is the main reason behind Irving’s decision, but it might merely be second fiddle. According to Stephen A., Irving’s close relationship with Kobe Bryant is reportedly making a difference:

“It comes down to this. He’s been telling people he wants to be in L.A., he’s been telling people he wants to wear the same uniform that Kobe Bryant once wore. And if you’re LeBron James, you certainly don’t mind that after what you had to deal with yesterday.”

General manager Rob Pelinka will have to pull some strings to get a deal done, but it seems that the door may be back open.

Lakers interested in Buddy Hield

Moments before Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Lakers, the Kings were close to moving Buddy Hield to L.A. That deal obviously fizzled out, but the Lakers’ interest in Hield didn’t. They have reignited their desire to have Hield play in the Purple and Gold.

Acquiring Hield requires a trade with the Indiana Pacers who are open to moving him. It would most likely require a package with Westbrook to secure Hield.

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