It appears that the idea of Kyrie Irving teaming up with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers is gaining traction.
The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are “actively engaged” in trade discussions centered on Irving and Russell Westbrook.
Sources said, “There’s palpable optimism that an agreement can be struck between the two sides this offseason, but there remain a few hurdles.”
According to an NBA report, LeBron is rooting hard for the Los Angeles Lakers to add Kyrie Irving this offseason.
The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are reportedly discussing a trade centered on Irving and Russell Westbrook, according to previous news. There is “optimism” a deal can be done this offseason, but the two sides will continue to work out the rest of the compensation going each way.
The Lakers were already considered a potential target for Irving in a sign-and-trade before the point guard opted into the final year of his contract with the Nets. Also, as per reported, Irving mentioned that he plans to join the Lakers as soon as he can, whether this year or next. Irving was focused on joining the team before opting into his contract with the Nets for the 2022-2023 season.
Nonetheless, it was reported on Friday that Irving would need to wait for a possible trade until Kevin Durant’s situation was sorted out. Durant requested a trade from the Nets on Thursday, and moving him should fetch Brooklyn a significant return.
It is no surprise that Irving wants to team up with James again. The two led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a title in 2016, and the pair, along with Anthony Davis, would likely position the Purple and Gold as championship favorites.
L.A.’s interest in Irving is not surprising, as the franchise has been looking to move Westbrook after he struggled to get into a groove alongside James and Davis during the 2021-22 campaign.
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 29.8 percent from deep. While it was arguably his worst season in the NBA, he could benefit from a change of scenery.
Moving Westbrook will require the Lakers to attach some intriguing draft compensation. His salary for the 2022-23 season is $47.1 million, while Irving’s sits at $36.5 million.
The Lakers may not need to outbid any other teams for Irving’s services, though. The 30-year-old was limited to just 29 games during the 2021-22 season after he refused to comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
That said, he still impressed when he was on the floor, averaging 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 41.8 percent from deep.
It is notable that LeBron also wants the deal to happen, potentially creating a smooth transition if the trade does end up materializing.
The two sides continue to talk about draft compensation, and the Nets want the Lakers to take Joe Harris in the deal, according to Haynes.
“The Nets are not expected to be rushed into a deal and will continue conversing the complex specifics with the Lakers on an Irving-Westbrook swap,” Haynes wrote.
James and Irving spent three years together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning one title while reaching the NBA Finals in three straight seasons. There was an ugly divorce when Irving asked for a trade, but the point guard has said on the I Am Athlete podcast that he was immature at that point in his career.
The lack of team success over the past year could also allow both players to get over their past disputes.
Los Angeles won a title in 2020, but the team lost in the first round the next season and missed the postseason altogether in 2021-22 while finishing 33-49. Brooklyn did not do much better with Irving last season, earning the No. 7 seed in the East before being swept in the first round.
If Irving and James can pair back together alongside Anthony Davis, the Lakers could once again be a threat to win a championship.