Could the Lakers and Nets still trade Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook?
Though a trade between the two franchises would be complicated, it’s by no means impossible. Here’s a look at what’s involved for both sides.
On either side of the divide, you’ve got a franchise that is desperate to rebuild in as quick a manner as possible. The question is can both of them get what they want?
A tale of 2 players: Kyrie Irving & Russell Westbrook
Aside from Kevin Durant’s trade request, the other major story of the NBA offseason has got to be that of Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and the trade that has been proposed between their respective teams. On the one side we’ve got the Nets who crashed out of the playoffs in the first round and are now in the midst of chaos with the aforementioned Durant wanting out. On the other, the ever-iconic Lakers who didn’t even get to crash out of the playoffs because they never made it. Not a good look for either.
Then we’ve got their high-profile point guards. Westbrook is fresh off the worst campaign of his career and Irving was essentially a non-factor this past season, as he missed the majority of games due to his refusal to get the covid-19 vaccine. Both players are due to become free agents next summer and it would be safe to say that a change would probably do them good. This is something that both franchises appear to be aware of as reports suggest that a deal is still on the table which would see them trade places.
Where are Nets at?
Though it is understood that talks have not progressed very far, reports indicate that the possibility of a deal being struck between the Lakers and Nets is not out of reach just yet. There is of course, quite some time left before the offseason comes to an end, but more importantly any deal involving Irving will likely be entirely dependent on the future of Kevin Durant. It is understood that at present the Nets are simply waiting to see how the Durant situation pans out, before attending to Irving’s case. “There is a good chance Kyrie Irving is back in Brooklyn to start the season if Kevin Durant is back in Brooklyn,” stated Adrian Wojnarowski as seen above.
Where Durant is concerned, the former league MVP has four years remaining on his current contract, which is to say the Nets are actually have the upper hand in negotiations. While it’s highly likely that they would like to facilitate Irving’s move, the notion of doing so before Durant’s situation is tied up would be suicide in terms of the aspirations for the coming season.
What about the Lakers?
With two tradable first-round picks - one in 2027 and another in 2029 - the Lakers do in fact have some bargaining chips in this game, however, they have been very reluctant to include them in any negotiation to date. That being said, we are talking about Kyrie Irving so there is the chance that could change. The real problem for the Lakers is Westbrook’s salary. At the moment, the former MVP is owed $47 million which means there is an $11 million salary difference between Irving and himself. That in turn means that it would run the Nets in excess of $50 million to bring him on board even before considering the effect of possible Durant trade. Interestingly, The San Antonio Spurs, with over $30 million in cap space, have been heavinly linked with Irving in recent days.
Reports have also suggested, that the Lakers have considered deals with the Indiana Pacers (for Buddy Hield) and Houston Rockets (for Eric Gordon) to add shooting, but both players have much lower cap figures than Westbrook. In theory, Indiana could bridge that gap by including center Myles Turner, a player the Lakers have long admired, but it stands to reason they wouldn’t be able to afford both. This is all to say that until Kevin Durant’s future is settled, the Nets aren’t under any pressure to move. Should the big man move, then expect Irving to do the same as the Nets wouldn’t have a reason to keep him - Irving and Durant are close friends - but on the other hand, if he stays put then things will get complicated. Watch this space!