As the Los Angeles Lakers looked to unload Russell Westbrook’s expiring $47 million salary this past offseason, one of the possibilities that presented itself was the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving.
After the Nets and Irving were unable to come to an agreement on an extension and then Kevin Durant requested a trade, it looked like the point guard was on his way out of Brooklyn.
Given Irving’s checkered past, no other teams had interest in trading for him except the Lakers, who hoped that they could dump Westbrook and draft picks to the Nets to reunite LeBron James with his former Cleveland Cavaliers co-star.
Ultimately though, Irving opted into the final year of his contract and committed to playing for the Nets while Durant withdrew his trade request.
The Lakers are going into the 2022-23 season with Westbrook on the roster after being unable to trade him. With his contract set to expire next summer though, the Lakers will have around $34 million in cap space at their disposal.
L.A. has reportedly been unwilling to take back long-term salaries in Westbrook trade talks this summer, leading many to believe they are preserving that cap space for when Irving becomes a free agent next summer.
According to Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jovan Buha of The Athletic though, the Lakers do not currently have Irving in their future plans:
Throughout the summer, Irving was the prized superstar whose name was front and center of Lakers fans. Sources say the Lakers made multiple inquiries and submitted concepts to the Nets on potential Irving deals in July and August, but upon opting into his $36.9 million player option in late June, Irving had committed to Brooklyn for the upcoming season.
So as July wore on and led into August, Brooklyn shut the door on any Irving trade – closing the window on a Irving-James reunion. The Nets made clear they had no intention to move Irving and ultimately resolved Kevin Durant’s trade request to continue building their championship hopes around All-Stars in Irving, Durant and Ben Simmons. As for the prospect of adding Irving via free agency next summer, sources say he’s currently not a part of the Lakers’ long-term plans.
Considering the summer of 2023 is still a full season away, a lot can change between now and then for both the Lakers and Nets.
As things currently stand though, Irving appears to want to remain in Brooklyn so if they have a successful 2022-23 season then he will likely sign an extension.
It remains to be seen how this season will go for the Lakers. If things don’t go as planned then they will likely look to trade Westbrook again ahead of the deadline. Now that Irving doesn’t seem to be in their long-term outlook then maybe they will be willing to take on some contracts that go past this season in trade talks, which will give them more options for dumping Westbrook.
Westbrook ‘all-in’ on doing whatever it takes to help Lakers win
This summer couldn’t have been an easy one for Westbrook, consistently hearing his name in trade rumors.
Before reporting to training camp though, Westbrook stated that he is ‘all-in’ on doing whatever it takes to help the Lakers win this season. If that is the case then maybe L.A. can have success and won’t need to trade Westbrook, although that of course is a big if.
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