The Los Angeles Lakers‘ level of interest in signing Kyrie Irving over the summer has been revealed.
Jovan Buha of The Athletic told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype on March 16 that the Lakers won’t pursue Irving this offseason when the All-Star guard becomes an unrestricted free agent.
“From what I’ve been told, they’re not going to be pursuing Kyrie Irving this offseason,” Buha said. “To my knowledge and to what I’ve been told, the Kyrie ship, I think, has sailed. You never want to say never. That could easily change, but as of right now, their plan is to run this (team) back.”
The Lakers tried to acquire Irving after the superstar requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. Los Angeles offered Brooklyn a package of Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 for Irving, according to a February 5 report from Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Nets wound up trading Irving to the Dallas Mavericks.
“As I reported around the trade deadline, they were interested in Kyrie and made what they felt was a competitive offer,” Buha said. “When it got to the point that Brooklyn was basically asking for every tradeable asset, they felt it was too much, given all the uncertainty that comes with Kyrie and the way things have played out the last few years.”
The Lakers Want to Run It Back
Buha stated on Scotto’s podcast that the Lakers want to run it back next season, meaning the front office likes the current roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Los Angeles acquired D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba, Davon Reed and Rui Hachimura this season.
“From what I’ve been told by my sources around the organization, they wanted to run this situation (current roster) back,” Buha said. “It’s looked good so far. They’ve won a lot of games. They’ve done a lot of winning without LeBron James. That’s something that’s kind of been under-discussed. The non-LeBron minutes were always an issue for the Lakers going back to his first year in LA and the championship season… This is my third season on the beat, and this is the best chemistry and vibes I’ve seen around the team.”
The Lakers are in 10th place in the Western Conference standings. They are 9-6 since trading Westbrook and Patrick Beverley.
Beat Reporter Who Covered LeBron James & Kyrie Irving in Cleveland: ‘I Believe Irving Will Be a Laker Next Season’
Joe Vardon of The Athletic believes Irving will sign with the Lakers this summer. Vardon covered James and Irving on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 to 2016-17.
“I believe Irving will be a Laker next season,” Vardon wrote on February 9. “How’s that for a juxtaposition? Irving wants a four- or five-year contract, for the maximum money allowed. If he and the Mavericks reach agreement, it could be a five-year, $273 million deal. But Irving said he didn’t want to engage in negotiations now. ‘The business aspect of this is ruthless,’ he said. The Lakers can’t quite get to the four-year, $210 million max deal he would be eligible for outside of Dallas, but they can pay him north of $30 million per year. The teams with the cap space to pay Irving what he wants, outside of Dallas, are the Pistons, Magic, Pacers, Blazers and Spurs. They are all either rebuilding or, in Portland’s case, have a smaller, ball-dominant guard in Damian Lillard. In other words, getting that max deal outside of the Mavericks may not be possible.
“Enter the Lakers. James has made clear he wants to reunite with Irving. As partners in Cleveland, they won the 2016 NBA Finals, reached two others and were an otherwise dominant, unstoppable duo on offense. They have obviously patched up their differences that led to Irving demanding a trade away from LeBron in Cleveland in the summer of 2017. Irving’s apology helped.”
James put up 25.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game alongside Irving in Cleveland, while Irving averaged 22.1 points and 5.3 assists next to James. The Cavaliers won the 2016 championship over the Golden State Warriors thanks to LeBron and Kyrie.