The Los Angeles Lakers have quietly emerged as a very serious contender to steal Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets.
At this point, it is something of an open secret that Irving is strongly considering opting into his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season and then waiting for a trade.
The Lakers are a frontrunner as a landing spot, as evidenced by the secret meetings Irving and LeBron James have been holding.
There is just one problem.
They don’t have the money that Irving wants. And as noted by ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst on Thursday, if Irving really wants to come to L.A. and wear purple and gold, he will likely have to settle for a pay cut.
A mid-level exception type of pay cut.
“There is a concern in Brooklyn that Kyrie could be inventive enough to leave the money on the table to go play with the Lakers & reunite with LeBron…Going to play with LeBron & the Lakers for the mid-level, you can’t rule that out.”
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) June 23, 2022
“There is a concern in Brooklyn that Kyrie could be inventive enough to leave the money on the table to go play with the Lakers and reunite with LeBron,” Windhorst said.
“…Going to play with LeBron and the Lakers for the mid-level, you can’t rule that out.”
James and Irving clearly have a complicated rapport filled with a lot of ups and downs. There have been times when, from the outside, it has looked like they have legit beef. Other times, however, like when James began publishing conspiracy theories to defend Irving’s honor, it felt like they made amends.
Clearly both are willing to play together now. But are the Nets willing to facilitate that deal? Particularly when there is another squad who can put together a better trade package?
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/UwYEqPBKr0
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 24, 2022
This is shaping up to be a fascinating next few days and weeks. If Irving is as crazy as many believe he is, he could just walk away from the Nets, take less money from the Lakers and live life on his terms.
If the cash matters, then the odds of Irving landing in purple and gold decrease significantly.
Where will Irving ultimately end up when it’s all said and done?
Time will tell.