The Los Angeles Lakers had some big ambitions this summer. Amid all the chaos in Brooklyn, they were hoping to acquire Kyrie Irving, who specifically named the Lakers as his preferred landing spot.
Things were looking good for a while before Kevin Durant decided to stay with the Nets, which only increased Kyrie's odds of staying with the team as well.
But despite the recent turn of events, one league insider says the Purple and Gold still believe they will land Irving within the next year.
“You talk to people over in Los Angeles, they still really feel like Kyrie is coming to them next year,” said Schiffer. “I’m curious to see how that goes over with recent events.”
“I’ve wondered still if the Nets season goes by the wayside with Kyrie as an attractive rental piece to someone at the deadline, do they swap a deal to get assets back for him?” Schiffer speculated. “I don’t necessarily think today’s news puts it off the table (h/t Lakers Daily).”
Of course, it's not too late for the Lakers to trade for Kyrie now. If they build the right package, the Nets might be inclined to at least consider accepting the offer.
But it might actually be in L.A.s best interest to wait. Despite the risks involved, waiting to secure Irving next summer would mean the Lakes could avoid giving up a haul of assets for him.
For what it’s worth, Irving was absent from the Nets contingent that visited Durant in Los Angeles (wrote Jovan Buha of The Athletic). There has also been no additional statement or reporting clarifying his place in all of this. The assumption around the league is that the Nets will retain him, but it’s unclear if he and Durant are still a package deal, as they have been since signing in Brooklyn in 2019. They’ve largely operated with separate motivations this summer.
Regardless, the Lakers should move on and wait to pursue Irving when he becomes a free agent next summer. With LeBron James’ recent extension, the Lakers are on the clock. They no longer may be able to replace Westbrook with a third star like Irving (though, again, the Nets' situation remains volatile based on how the past two months have gone), but there are still multiple paths to building a better team next season.
Irving is a pretty significant upgrade over Westbrook, whose struggles to shoot the ball often make him a liability on the floor.
Unfortunately for L.A., with how this Durant thing has played out, getting Irving is far from a guarantee, and Rob Pelinka better have a couple of backup options ready if he's wrong about Irving's plans.