How the Spurs could open LA Lakers door to Kyrie
According to reports, San Antonio may be part of a three-way operation which could see Irving end up in Los Angeles.
Kyrie Irving and the Los Angeles Lakers maybe be converging on their summer paths. It’s still just a rumor, a faint whisper even, but it could soon be something more.
LeBron links make Kyrie a win
In a situation very different from the one they are experiencing with Kevin Durant, the Nets cannot afford to stretch the negotiations too long with the point guard, who took advantage of the player option and ends the year’s contract, so could soon be free. Durant has four years left on his contract and may now suffer from the uncertainty of his release request, so the Nets can wait for him and ask for anything they want. But Kyrie, being in a very different place, both from a sporting and emotional perspective, has to leave, and from the beginning the Lakers have been the main candidates to get his services.
First, this is because LeBron James already knows him, he has won with him (remember those 2016 Finals) and he wants him by his side. And second, because in the proposed operation Russell Westbrook would leave LA. That is something that the Hollywood team, the one with the paraphernalia and the show business, the 17 titles and the legendary names, wants at all costs.
Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook trade
Eric Pincus, a reporter for the Bleacher Report who specializes in salary issues, has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the Lakers. And he has slipped out an idea in the form of a rumor, a speculative idea if you will, but one with a real possibility that those in purple and gold will carry out a movement that they desire.
This plan introduces a third actor into the equation, one who could change everything and facilitate, not only Kyrie’s arrival in Los Angeles, but also Russell Westbrook’s departure. Something that is still ironic coming from the team that still trains (and practically directs) a Gregg Popovich who has never liked the Lakers too much, no matter how much mutual respect has been the general tone of his career. Maybe that “asterisk” with which Phil Jackson defined the Spurs triumph in 1999 has something to do with it. It is inevitable to live in the past when the present is so unflattering.
The idea is for the Spurs to take on Russell Westbrook’s salary. This would give them draft-derived advantages to a team in the midst of a rebuild, one which has already traded Dejounte Murray and is only holding on to five rings in the last 23 years because of the representation of the unmanageable being that is Gregg Popovich. If the Spurs take Westbrook, with whom they would work out a buyout and an exit, the Nets would avoid taking the Lakers point guard and get enough salary space from Kyrie’s departure. Goodbye to Kyrie and his 33 million, a good move to avoid Westbrook and his 47 million and enough money to move in the market with some ease so that the departure of the two stars who changed everything to change nothing does not leave them with a crisis in the form of eternal reconstruction.
The potential Kyrie-Lakers operation
There are more variables in this proposed deal.
The Spurs need enough cap space to absorb Westbrook, so they’d have to release someone. It is possible that this would be Doug McDermott, who is set to earn 27.5 million over the next two seasons. If the forward goes to the Lakers, he could do so alongside two Nets players, or at least one, that the Lakers like: Seth Curry and Joe Harris. LA have already reportedly spoken in this regard and would only give a first round for the first of them. The movements and leaks of the Lakers have always been with a very specific objective: not to deliver the first two rounds (2024 and 2027) that they have in their possession, and gain strength in the negotiations. Of course, it is possible that one of those rounds will go to the Nets... and the other to the Spurs, who would remove McDermott’s contract and only spend on the buyout from Westbrook, who is also not interested in playing in San Antonio. That other first round of the Lakers is the only thing that the Texans are interested in, who face years of little fanfare and much reflection. In other words, reconstruction.
The movement could include Jakob Poeltl (Spurs), Talen Horton-Tucker (Lakers) and Kendrick Nunn (Lakers). The Los Angeles team would feel more comfortable in giving a first round pick if they were convinced that Kyrie and LeBron were going to renew (both are free agents in 2023), something that generates a lot of uncertainty, especially regarding LeBron, whose return to Ohio for one last big adventure is a possibility.
Aside from all that, Kyrie has a play to potentially force his trade to the Lakers: a waiver of his trade bonus, which would save the Nets some money. Now we wait and see who moves next and how. And we remember that Durant is also hanging around.