With free agency set to begin, the biggest question going into the offseason is how the Kyrie Irving saga with the Brooklyn Nets will be handled. The two sides were apparently at an impasse regarding a long-term extension while things seemed to be leaning towards Irving somehow finding his way to a reunion with former teammate LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers.
It seemed as if the only way that would be possible would be for a sign-and-trade as Irving could opt-in to the final year of his contract before being dealt to L.A.
He could also opt out and become an unrestricted free agent and sign with the Lakers for the $6 million taxpayer mid-level exception, but seeing as how that would cost him $30 million, that possibility seemed highly unlikely, to say the least. But now, it could actually come to fruition.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, there is a real belief that Irving could indeed choose the opt-out option and sign with the Lakers for the taxpayer mid-level exception:
Sources with knowledge of the situation have increasingly believed Kyrie Irving's willingness to opt out of Brooklyn, sign the $6M taxpayer midlevel with the Lakers, where Irving can re-sign long-term in 2023.
— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 27, 2022
The idea of Irving giving up around $30 million so he can play for $6 million seems absolutely ludicrous, but if there is a player who could truly stand on his word it is Irving. Of course, this could also be a leverage move for Irving, who has little in terms of forcing his way to the Lakers.
And Los Angeles seems to be the only potential destination as according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, there are no other teams interested in a sign-and-trade for Irving aside from the Lakers, whose trade package apparently doesn’t interest Brooklyn:
Outside of the Los Angeles Lakers, there are currently no known teams planning pursuit of sign-and-trade deals for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, sources told ESPN.
Irving needs a trade partner to coordinate an agreement on a deal to get a long-term, maximum contract, but only the Lakers have interest in executing a sign-and-trade once free agency opens on Thursday night, sources said.
So far, the Nets have no interest in taking back the available Lakers packages, sources said.
Wojnarowski also confirmed that Irving has interest in joining the Lakers and may be willing to take the taxpayer mid-level exception to do so:
Irving has great interest in joining the Lakers, sources said, which he could do by declining the $36.5 million option and signing with Los Angeles for the $6 million taxpayer mid-level exception.
All of this should come to a head on Wednesday just before free agency is set to kick-off as that is the deadline for Irving to either opt into his deal or opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. Whichever way he decides, it sounds like Irving is intent on being in purple and gold next season.
Lakers might need third team to interest Nets in Kyrie Irving trade
By all accounts, it looks as if the relationship between Irving and the Nets is past the point of reconciliation and Brooklyn has granted Irving permission to seek a sign-and-trade. Obviously it sounds as if only the Lakers interest him, but L.A. would likely need a third team to get involved to help facilitate the deal.
The Lakers would likely look to ship off Russell Westbrook, whom the Nets have no interest in, and the young talent such as Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves probably doesn’t do much for Brooklyn as well. Getting a third team involved to take on the Westbrook contract would seem like the best solution if a deal is to get done.
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