It is hard to believe, but the two title favorites for the 2021-22 NBA season are currently watching the playoffs from home.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets entered the season as perceived contenders, but both their seasons fell apart for several reasons. For the Lakers, their gamble on Russell Westbrook went about as poorly as possibly could have while James Harden’s discontent and Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status derailed any hopes the Nets had.
Irving did not make his debut until later in the year, and there were rumors that Brooklyn could look to deal him in order to get eligible players. With Westbrook’s fit in Los Angeles a clear failure, it seems the Lakers had internal discussions about trading for Irving, via Ian Begley of SNY:
Several outlets, including SNY, reported that the Nets had been open to talking to teams about potential Irving trades during that time. Obviously, nothing came to fruition. But some members of the Lakers organization discussed the possibility of trading for Irving during that stretch of the season, sources say.
The deal would have obviously reunited Irving with LeBron James. It’s unclear if the Lakers reached any internal consensus on Irving at the time. And it doesn’t really matter at this point. Given where Brooklyn is at the moment, it would be surprising if the club didn’t sign Irving to a multi-year extension/new contract this summer as it continues to pursue a title.
Despite Irving’s off-court issues, his fit next to LeBron James is a lot more seamless than Westbrook and reuniting the two may not have been the worst look on paper. It is a moot point now considering noting materialized, but it is interesting to hear that some within the Lakers organization were willing to take on Irving.
A potential deal may have been Westbrook and the team’s first-round picks for Irving, and while that framework technically still exists, the more likely scenario is the Nets star stays in Brooklyn. As for Westbrook, even he is unclear about his future in Los Angeles but most signs point to him being on his way out.
LeBron James agrees Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are more skilled than he and Dwyane Wade
Irving may be a major distraction for teams, but there is no denying his basketball talent. Former NBA star Tracy McGrady went so far to say Irving and Kevin Durant were a more skilled duo than James and Dwyane Wade, and the Lakers star did not disagree.
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