Lakers can still try to trade for Kyrie

Kyrie Irving has signed on for the final year of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, ending rumors he could join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency or through a sign-and-trade. The decision likely means the point guard will remain in Brooklyn, but it does not guarantee that he will finish the 2022-2023 NBA season with the Nets.

Irving was seemingly trying to escape Brooklyn. The seven-time All-Star was trying to find a team that would trade for him and give him a multi-year contract. Only the Lakers were willing, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and Brooklyn had no interest in accepting what Los Angeles had to offer.

Irving could have entered a free agency and signed a $6 million contract with the Lakers. Instead, he picked up his player option worth a guaranteed $36.5 million.

Brooklyn was unwilling to give Irving a long-term contract extension and challenged him to leave free agency for a massive pay cut. With the 30-year-old under contract for another season, the Nets are likely to continue next season with Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons as the core of their roster.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all is well in Brooklyn, as Irving tried to jump to another team. While a sign-and-trade would have been difficult under the salary cap restrictions, any team can make an offer for Irving now that he’s signed a one-year contract.

The Lakers don’t have what it takes to put together a trading package that would entice the Nets, making a deal highly unlikely. Brooklyn had no interest in accepting the sign-and-trade offer from Los Angeles, including Russell Westbrook, according to ESPN.

However, Los Angeles can still try to make a worthwhile offer. It would probably mean finding a third or even fourth team to participate in a trade involving Irving.

Los Angeles’ most valuable trading asset — aside from Anthony Davis, who the Lakers almost certainly wouldn’t trade for Irving — are first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029. The Nets probably have little interest in those picks as they aim to become champions next year. . Another team might appreciate them and be willing to send veteran players from Brooklyn if they can acquire the future Lakers first-rounders.

Such a deal would likely require a team to take on Westbrook’s $47 million salary, so a reunion between Irving and LeBron James next season is almost certainly not going to happen. Ultimately, the Lakers may be forced to give the trio of Westbrook, Davis and James another chance.

As shaky as the relationship between the Nets and Irving is, Brooklyn is wary of letting Irving go because of how Durant might react. There are rumors that Irving’s departure could lead to Durant asking for a trade.

The Nets remain one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference to win the 2023 NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving

Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

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