The most fascinating situation in the NBA continues to develop as the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are apparently in talks about a Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook swap.
According to Chris Haynes, writing for Yahoo Sports:
“The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are actively engaged in discussions on a trade package that would send star point guard Russell Westbrook to Brooklyn in exchange for star point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”
This feels like the type of trade that was spoken into existence by hot take debate shows, doesn’t it? Why on earth would the Brooklyn Nets want to take on one of the most unappealing expiring contracts in the entire league in Westbrook? Well, perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers are the only team who feels like betting that Kyrie Irving will even play for them, let alone extend beyond 2023. And because of that, they may be willing to offer more than any other team.
Irving reportedly listed the 76ers among teams he’d be open to landing with in the event he couldn’t work out a longterm deal with Brooklyn, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted Philadelphia wasn’t too interested.
The two big market teams could actually work out an extend-and-trade, where Irving received 5 percent raises on an additional two years tacked onto his current one year deal. The most the seven-time All-Star could earn on a possible three-year deal is $133.8M, unless an acquiring team waited until six months after his opt in date last week. If they chose to wait, he could eke out $135.2M.
That extend-and-trade scenario might give L.A. a feeling of greater safety. Otherwise, they might prefer to see how things go for a season and revisit. Maybe they’d rather not commit to more than a year of the mercurial guard, who once clashed with LeBron James. Irving was unavailable for one reason or another for untenable chunks of his Nets tenure, leading to this scenario. But the James-Irving duo won the title in 2016. And one of James and Anthony Davis won the title in 2020. So a trio of Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving would be a formidable one. But at least the Sixers wouldn’t have to contend with them until the finals if at all.
Haynes notes that there are a few hurdles to a deal going down. One is draft compensation. To that end, there has already been some prior speculation about how a possible Kyrie Irving-LeBorn James reunion could ultimately take shape:
Framework of a potential LA/Nets trade for Kyrie:— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 1, 2022
“Irving and a 2nd Nets player (Seth Curry, the newly acquired Royce O’Neale or Day’Ron Sharpe) in exchange for Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 1st-round selections.”
(via @sam_amick/@jovanbuha, https://t.co/LsNArSYuhp) pic.twitter.com/1nr1jkXJe0
Haynes also adds that the Nets are disinclined to include Joe Harris and would prefer to offer former Sixer Seth Curry. The update concludes that the Nets are in no particular hurry.
As we all know, their top priority is getting the looming Kevin Durant trade right. So they’re probably going to avoid doing anything which might make that end-game more difficult. This one is wild. But the Nets falling apart probably won’t upset many fans in Philadelphia...unless of course there becomes a super team somewhere.