The Lakers Signing Kyrie Irving Would Be Proof They Haven't Learned Their Lesson
By Liam McKeone
The blissful radio silence about Kyrie Irving's future came to a rather abrupt end on Monday. The problematic point guard hasn't played a game in more than a month after he got shut down near the end of the season so the Dallas Mavericks could maneuver their way out of the play-in tournament and into the lottery. Brian Windhorst has been talking about Irving's impending free agency for the last two days and broke down how the Los Angeles Lakers, specifically, could land Irving without giving up Austin Reaves on his podcast yesterday.
This landed him an ESPN hit on Monday that was used for more content later in the slate.
Just pretend for a second that the playoffs are over and that's why we're talking about him instead of Jimmy Butler or Nikola Jokic. Here's Stephen A. Smith explaining why the Lakers have to do it. Shockingly, Smith did not pull out his favorite buzzword to describe Irving -- "box office." But the sentiment remains.
As Windhorst notes, it is quite unlikely that Irving would be willing to take a pay cut and that makes things mighty difficult for Los Angeles. The Lakers could theoretically gut their entire team to get Irving and that sure sounds like something the franchise would do. But it would be proof LA didn't learn a damn thing from the Russell Westbrook debacle and would be a bad sign for anybody hoping LeBron James could lead one more championship run before he rides off into the sunset to play with Bronny in Orlando or something.
The blueprint for good James teams has been around for a while now. Get the man players who can defend and shoot at reasonable levels and you're in a good spot. Not even high levels, just reasonable levels. That sounds obvious because all teams are looking for players who can shoot and defend but it apparently is not that obvious to the Lakers, who had that type of players, won a championship, and then traded them all for a guy who couldn't do either of those things.
Irving can shoot but checks no other boxes. He's not reliable, either, which is an increasingly important attribute for a LeBron sidekick to have. He would cost an enormous amount of money, is prone to getting himself into trouble off the court, and clearly isn't that great of a teammate after he ditched Kevin Durant of all people because the front office made him mad.
But he is Kyrie Irving. Box office. His dribble moves are made for the bright lights of LA. Ditching good role players who helped the Lakers go further than they deserved in this year's playoffs to get Irving is precisely the sort of thing the Lakers have always done. And it often pays off. But they have a very recent example of it not working out and that should be enough to kill all Irving discussion.
We're still going to talk about it because everyone in NBA media loves to discuss the idea of a LeBron/Kyrie reunion. But if the Lakers actually do it, they doom themselves to the same cycle of misery everybody who employs Irving goes through, while also screwing themselves out of the last few good years of LeBron's career. For all that to happen less than six months after trading Westbrook would showcase an utterly astounding lack of awareness/ability to learn from mistakes.
Put together a good basketball team or pay Kyrie Irving to play half the year while he causes immense problems for the NBA and the Lakers? Decisions, decisions for Rob Pelinka.