The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t the only marquee franchise to see their 2021-22 season go up in flames.
The Brooklyn Nets went through their fair share of turmoil during the year, mostly involving Kyrie Irving, who missed half the season due to his unvaccinated status. Irving and the Nets would eventually land on a compromise that let him play away games, but it was too late as Brooklyn slipped to the seventh seed and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round.
It seemed like a lock the Nets would re-sign Irving to a long-term extension, but recent reports have the two sides at odds over his future. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving suddenly seems attainable for interested teams:
But one of the most anticipated free-agency situations involves Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, who has a June 29 deadline on his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season. However, multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said.
Of the teams expected to be interested in the All-Star point guard, the Lakers came up:
The Lakers, Knicks and Clippers are expected to be among the interested suitors if Irving heads elsewhere, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
For the Lakers, the likely path to acquire Irving — and reunite him with LeBron James — would be Irving opting in to facilitate a trade, because the Lakers cannot realistically clear cap space to sign him themselves, and a sign-and-trade would trigger the hard cap, thus making acquiring Irving significantly more difficult. If Irving would opt in, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka would have to satisfy the collective bargaining agreement’s salary-matching rules, meaning if Irving’s $36.6 million was the only incoming salary, the Lakers could send anywhere from $29.3 million to $45.8 million to the Nets and/or a third team in a legal transaction.
This wouldn’t be the first time Los Angeles explored acquiring Irving as they kicked around the idea during the trade deadline. A deal involving Irving would certainly include Russell Westbrook, and the Lakers could potentially kill two birds with one stone by getting off the latter’s deal while also bringing back a player that fits their roster better.
With Irving’s player option deadline coming up, expect to hear more reports about Irving’s availability in the coming days.
LeBron James would team with Kyrie Irving to play against Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
Despite their differences in Cleveland, LeBron James and Irving eventually reconciled afterward. James has always held Irving in high regard, so much so that he picked the guard to play with him in a hypothetical matchup against Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
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