In an utterly shocking twist that nobody could have possibly seen coming, Kyrie Irving is at odds with the team he played for last season. Shams Charania reported for The Athletic on Monday that Irving and the Brooklyn Nets have reached an "impasse" regarding the future. Per Charania:
But one of the most anticipated free-agency situations involves Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, who has a June 29 deadline on his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season. However, multiple sources tell The Athletic that conversations about Irving’s future have gone stagnant between him and the Nets. An impasse currently exists among the parties that clears the way for the seven-time All-Star to consider the open marketplace, those sources said.
There isn't a lot of other information provided but it's not a terribly complicated situation. Irving doesn't want to play next season on an expiring contract and thus will likely decline his player option, but the Nets are reticent to give him the long-term deal he desires after he voluntarily missed most of last season. Charania goes on to note that if both sides decide Irving doesn't have a future in Brooklyn, a few teams would be interested. Including, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have received extensive coverage since they missed the playoffs so we know what the deal is. They have no cap space to sign anybody and appear dead-set on heading into next season with, effectively, the same roster that finished 12th in the West. The only way to improve the roster is to trade Russell Westbrook. Management doesn't want to do that because they'd have to attach their next first-round pick in 2027 to get it done in any scenario. This means that if the Lakers were to somehow bring Irving to town, they'd have to convince the Nets to take Westbrook, which is... a tough sell for all sorts of reasons.
But what if the Lakers decided they wanted Irving at whatever cost? What if they traded LeBron James for Kyrie Irving?
It obviously isn't likely. For all the convoluted takes Stephen A. Smith is capable of cooking up about how trading LeBron is the quickest path to a rebuild for Los Angeles, no team in their right mind would trade him. And in this particular scenario, pairing Irving with Westbrook and Anthony Davis is not exactly a winning combination. The defense would be atrocious and the personality mix seems explosive. Offensively they'd be pretty good, but not so dominant it masks other problems.
On the other hand, if the Lakers are dead-set on Irving, LeBron is the only guy they can offer up to get the deal done. The other trade piece is Anthony Davis, and the Nets will probably be worried about teaming him up with Kevin Durant given the injury histories at play. But Durant and LeBron together on the court needs no explanation as far as how dominant they'd be. Then the Lakers can rebuild around Irving, an absolutely comical concept but one that we can all definitely see the Lakers talking themselves into. And we the people are winners because we can sit back and watch everything unfold.
It doesn't make a ton of basketball sense but it does make for fascinating television and that's what this league is all about, right? The Lakers have to make it happen.