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In fact, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving has “great interest in joining the Lakers” and teaming up with LeBron James. Irving and James were teammates with the Cavaliers, bringing the franchise its lone championship in 2016.
Right now, Irving is in the middle of a contract squabble with the Nets, and it seems as if both sides may be ready to move on. As we relayed, Irving has received and been granted permission to seek sign-and-trade agreements with rival teams. The Lakers are the only known team that plans to pursue an Irving trade, per Wojnarowski.
Along with the Lakers, the Knicks, Heat, Clippers, Mavericks and 76ers are said to be among Irving’s preferred destinations. Any of those teams would likely to be able to offer a better package than the Lakers, who are handcuffed by the salary cap.
As it stands, the Nets are not interested in any of the Lakers’ available package, per Wojnarowski. And if Brooklyn does decide to talk Irving trade with LA, it would be seeking Anthony Davis as part of the return, as we relayed earlier.
All of that said, Irving could always opt out of the $36.9 million option on his contract and sign with the Lakers outright — though he could only take the mid-level exception. Given that the hang-up with the Nets seems to be all about money, Irving taking $30 million less to play with the Lakers seems highly unlikely.
Then again, this is the NBA, and crazier things have happened.
The Irving situation has also cast some doubt on the future of Kevin Durant with the Nets. Per Albert De Roa of HoopsHype, the belief around the NBA is that Irving will not return to Brooklyn and that the Irving-Durant era is in fact over.
The Nets, on the other hand, would be seeking a star in exchange for Irving, hoping to entice Durant to stay, with Ben Simmons presumably also being ready for training camp.
They aren’t taking the idea of Irving opting out of the final year of his contract seriously, sources have told Hoops Wire, and expect to get a nice package in return, should they indeed decide to trade him.
Nets GM Sean Marks addressed the Irving situation at the end of the season, making things sound as if they were very much up in the air.
“You want people here to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Marks said, via Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “It’s a team sports team game. It’s not individuals. We want people to be here for the right reasons, and buy into their roles, find their roles, high-character guys.
“We want to avoid the drama, we want to avoid the distractions. These last couple years here, whether it was expectation set on the team or some of the outside circumstances that were going on in the world, they affected our guys — both individually and as a group — really poorly, unfortunately.”
Irving, 30, averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds in 29 games this past season. He missed multiple games because of the New York City vaccine mandate, which was eventually lifted in time for the postseason.
Still, Irving and the Nets were swept from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Celtics.