Here’s Where Things Stand On A Potential Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook Lakers Deal

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kyrie irving

Kyrie Irving may solve the Los Angeles Lakers’ short-term issues, but is he the answer long-term?

Are the Lakers better off just riding out this season and then putting themselves in a better place for 2023 and beyond?

These are the crucial questions to consider for Laker fans and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and company.

While Lakers owner Jeanie Buss tweets out something cryptic about Kobe Bryant (really, what was that all about?) rumors continue to fly about the Lakers and current Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. He was on the Lakers radar…then off when he opted in with Brooklyn…but now apparently back on after fellow NBA star Kevin Durant said he wanted out of Brooklyn.

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The Nets, having been reduced to rubble, are now in a ‘rebuild mode’ and are looking to trade Durant for about 10 first round picks (give or take) and Irving.

The Lakers are in limbo mode. They are the perfect – or worst – landing spot for Irving.

Do The Lakers Really Want Kyrie Irving?

The NBA’s Emperor Insider himself, Adrian Wojnarowski was on SportsCenter Monday (some 4th of July for him) talking about Durant and Irving. With Durant, he said the market is “slow-moving;” that’s code for the Nets are waiting to see what team makes the best offer.

When it came to Irving and the Lakers specifically, he said the Lakers have ‘yet to aggressive’ in making a deal for him, but said that may come.

The Nets are basically holding the NBA hostage at this point. Everyone is waiting to see what happens with Durant before any other deals can go down.

Irving was the No. 1 pick out of Duke in 2011. He’s 30 and is a seven-time NBA All-Star. He rode with LeBron in 2016 and won an NBA title in Cleveland.

Since leaving the Cavaliers, his career has been uneven. He spent two years with the Celtics, making the playoffs once. He spent three years with Brooklyn, but barely played last season because of his vaccine stance.

Still, he’s better than what the Lakers have right now. The Lakers want him.

Why Irving Makes Sense for the Lakers

Any trade for Irving would have to include current Lakers guard Russell Westbrook. Even though the Lakers have said all the right things about Westbrook, there is great internal and external pressure for Los Angeles to get him off the team.

Irving played with LeBron in Cleveland and would hypothetically give the Lakers three incredible offensive weapons. Who in the world would a defense focus on when all three are on the court? Sag in on Anthony Davis inside and/or help with LeBron and Kyrie will just drive to the basket. Play up/pressure Irving and LeBron becomes the playmaker. Try to get rid of them both and Davis will eat you up inside.

Irving is a star, a bit of a character, no doubt, but who isn’t in LA? LeBron wouldn’t let him coast at all, so he’d have to be committed all season.

Hanging over all of this is the Lakers in win-now mode. LeBron is 37. He only cares about NBA titles. He has a better shot with Irving than Westbrook.

Why Irving Makes No Sense for the Lakers

One, the trade fit isn’t perfect. Incredibly, Westbrook makes more money than Irving ($36.4 million) so it can’t be just a one-for-one deal. The Nets reportedly want to off-load three-point ace Joe Harris and his huge deal (the Lakers would rather have Seth Curry).

Issue Number Two is the Lakers don’t have a ton of assets to give the Nets for Irving. They still have draft picks tied up in the Anthony Davis deal with the Pelicans that they don’t have. The Nets aren’t going to want first round picks in 2027. That’s too far into the future. If I am the Nets GM, why do I want draft capital when I know I may not be the GM at that time?

Then there is this, are the Lakers really a team – even with Irving – that can win an NBA title in 2023?

How are they getting past the Golden State Warriors or the Phoenix Suns out west? Is the better option right now the long-term one? Ride out this season with LeBron, Westbrook and Davis. They can still be a playoff team. In fact, I still think the Lakers can be a dangerous team in the playoffs if they stay healthy. It’s the first year for new coach Darvin Ham. That certainly buys some good will among the fan base. Irving is fun to think about, but may not be the savior Los Angeles needs.