The rumors linking Kyrie Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers keep growing stronger by the day. Last week, it was reported that Kyrie's contract extension talks had stalled after the Nets didn't offer Irving the contract he wanted, which was a longer-term deal than what the Nets wanted.
Irving has a $36 million player option that he needs to exercise by Wednesday to stay a part of the Nets for one more season. Otherwise, he can walk for nothing this offseason, leaving Kevin Durant stranded after he signed an extension last summer.
Irving has apparently already made a list of 6 teams that he prefers to go to next, with the two LA teams featuring prominently alongside Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, and New York. There is a very clear preferred destination, as The Athletic is reporting that Irving is pushing to join the Lakers and reunite with former championship-winning teammate LeBron James.
Joe, there are sources very close to the situation who strongly believe Irving is trying to make his way to the Lakers here and everything else is just (necessary) noise. The sense I get is that James is very open to the idea, but the dynamics are somewhat delicate too. (h/t The Athletic)
If Irving is to leave, Brooklyn would prefer he goes to the other conference instead of making another Eastern Conference team stronger. The Nets already gave Philadelphia James Harden, they wouldn't want Irving to walk over there for no compensation. At least Harden got them Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond.
If the Nets want to make a trade happen and Irving is insistent on the Lakers, their only choice is to trade for Russell Westbrook. Irving would probably prefer that too, as his contract rights would transfer over to the Lakers and he wouldn't have to take a $30 million pay cut to sign on the mid-level exception for the Lakers.
None of the teams on Irving's wishlist can offer him the money he is making right now, except the Knicks. If Kyrie is serious about pushing for another championship, the Lakers would be ideal for him considering how LBJ has already pushed him to a title before. Substitute Kevin Love for the talent of Anthony Davis, the Lakers could be a force to be reckoned with once again next season.