Kyrie Irving Trade Rumors: Lakers Previously Explored 'Possibility' of Deal

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 7, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Kyrie Irving of Brooklyn Nets and Jaylen Brown  of Boston Celtics in action during NBA playoffs between Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn of New York City, United States on April 25, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly had internal discussions about the "possibility" of trading for Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving early this season.

Ian Begley of SNY reported that those talks occurred while Irving, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, sat out the early portion of the 2021-22 campaign after the Nets stated on Oct. 12 that he would not play with the team until he was eligible to become a "full participant."

Per Begley:

"But some members of the Lakers organization discussed the possibility of trading for Irving during that stretch of the season, sources say. 
"The deal would have obviously reunited Irving with LeBron James. It’s unclear if the Lakers reached any internal consensus on Irving at the time. And it doesn’t really matter at this point. Given where Brooklyn is at the moment, it would be surprising if the club didn’t sign Irving to a multi-year extension/new contract this summer as it continues to pursue a title."

At the time, Irving could play most road games, but he was ineligible to play home games in Brooklyn because of New York City's vaccine mandate.

Irving sat until Jan. 5, when the Nets changed course as the team lost a multitude of players because of injury or entrance into the league's health-and-safety protocols.

Irving played only road games for three months before the NYC vaccine mandate was lifted for performers and athletes.

If the Lakers had internal discussions regarding a trade for Irving, then it's unclear which players the team could have dealt for him.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook would have presumably been off the table. The rest of the roster largely consisted of veterans on one-year deals (e.g. Carmelo Anthony) or young, emerging players (e.g. Malik Monk) looking for better opportunities.

Irving is a seven-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA player who just tied a career high with 27.4 points per game, so the Nets weren't about to trade him for nothing.

Hypothetically, it would have been interesting to see James and Irving reunited after the pair played together with the Cleveland Cavaliers and won the 2016 NBA title.

But ultimately, Irving holds a $36.5 million player option for the 2022-23 season. If he takes that, then he'll be a free agent in 2023.

The Nets can also sign him to a long-term extension, but a rocky season just ended with Brooklyn getting swept out of the first round by the Boston Celtics.

The few certainties are that Kevin Durant is there for the long haul, as is Ben Simmons, who are both on long-term contracts.

Irving is an extremely talented player and one of the best guards of his generation, but he's also been on the court for just 103 games over the past three years, and that could give the Nets pause regarding a long-term commitment.

For now, general manager Sean Marks and Co. have to figure out a blueprint to get the Nets to greater playoff heights.