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L.A. Was ‘Much More Motivated’ To Sign Nets’ Kyrie Irving In Free Agency Than Trade For Him

Kyrie Irving seemingly solved one of the biggest mysteries of the Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason on Monday following days of constant speculations over the guard’s potential move to L.A.

Irving is believed to have decided to pick up his player option for 2022-23. That alone technically still leaves the door open for a potential trade between the Nets and the Lakers, which would likely have to involve Russell Westbrook. However, Irving has reportedly committed to fulfilling his commitment to Kevin Durant and Brooklyn — and will stay with the franchise for another year.

Besides, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that the Lakers showed more interest in signing Irving in free agency — using the midlevel exception — rather than trading for the 30-year-old:

For their part, the Lakers were much more motivated to have Irving sign as a free agent than they were in acquiring the three-time All-NBA guard via trade, sources said. And as Irving went through his opt-in-and-trade options — as well as the potential of joining the Lakers in free agency — the decision to return to Brooklyn crystalized.

By opting out of the final year of his contract and signing with the Lakers as a free agent, Irving could only hope for a salary in the region of $6.5 million — about $30 million less than the current contract with the Nets guarantees him for the next season.

In addition to Irving, the Lakers will also miss out on Houston Rockets guard John Wall. The playmaker will reportedly sign with the L.A. Clippers after agreeing to a buyout with the Rockets.

Westbrook to stay with Lakers after exercising $47.1 million player option

Westbrook reportedly decided to pick up his player option and return to L.A. for 2022-23. The 2017 NBA MVP will earn $47.1 million next season, the third-biggest salary in the NBA.

Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka previously said the Purple and Gold would welcome the 33-year-old playmaker “with open arms” if he decided to stay with the team.

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