Recently, the Los Angeles Lakers have been heavily tied to Kyrie Irving. The generational point guard is arguably the biggest prize of the 2023 free agency class, and the Lakers have a strong chance of adding him to their roster. Due to other reports claiming that Irving is actively recruiting James to the Dallas Mavericks, it is clear that the two want to play together again.
In their first stint together, the duo made three trips to the NBA Finals in three seasons and were a part of the most impressive comeback in NBA Finals history. While years have passed since then and neither James nor Irving are the same players that they were with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they would still be able to contend for a title with the Lakers.
However, it has been alleged that the Lakers are not interested in Irving as they are more focused on keeping a well-rounded roster. This raises the question of if adding Irving to the roster would be the right move or if they should run it back with their roster that just made the Western Conference Finals.
While the Lakers were one of the hottest teams through the second half of the season and also had an incredible postseason run, their season was still cut short in only four games by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. As a result of this, the team may need to add another star like Irving to take the roster to a new level.
There is a strong case to make a sign and trade to add Irving to the roster, however, it could end up being very tricky for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office. The Mavericks have made it clear that they are not interested in D’Angelo Russell, who likely will be the only player on the Lakers roster that will have a contract similar to Irving’s and be a player the Lakers are willing to trade.
If a sign and trade is unable to be worked out, there is a chance that Irving could sign with Los Angeles for a team-friendly deal. If he is truly set on teaming up with James again, Irving could put the Lakers in an incredible spot by taking a team-friendly deal that leaves them with enough cap space to retain Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves.
If this is the case, Los Angeles would likely be more than willing to let players like Russell and Lonnie Walker IV walk in free agency to have enough cap space for the previously mentioned moves.
The case to avoid bringing Irving to the Lakers is a very simple one. They are unlikely to convince him to take enough of a pay cut to bring back both Reaves and Hachimura. Both players served as perfect role players that performed at a much higher level than was expected from them.
Along with this, every team that Irving has joined since leaving the Cavaliers has struggled to see much postseason success. While most of the blame has been placed on Irving for this and he has even been deemed a “locker room cancer” by some, Los Angeles could end up passing on pursuing Irving as a result of this label.
After being less than a season removed from the Russell Westbrook experience for the Lakers, they have all the right to be skeptical in tying up almost all of their cap space in three-star players again. While Irving is a much more talented player and a better fit than Westbrook was for Los Angeles, this would still be a very risky move, especially with James, Davis, and Irving struggling to be available at times.
Despite this being a very risky move for the Lakers to make, it would make a lot of sense for them to bring Irving to the team if the price is right. While it is a long shot for the front office to convince him to take a pay cut that would allow them to resign all of their role players from last season, there is a chance the Mavericks could become desperate enough to take Russell in a sign and trade.
If Irving makes it clear that he will not resign with Dallas under any circumstances, Dallas’s hand could end up being forced into pairing Irving with James once again. While the Lakers may have to sweeten the pot a bit for them to accept the deal, the Lakers still have some draft capital and some role players that could get the deal done.
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