Lakers Rumors: 'Rumblings' LeBron James, Kyrie Irving Have Had Recent Contact

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets in action against LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center on January 23, 2020 in New York City. The Lakers defeated the Nets 128-113. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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It would be a long shot of epic proportions for the Los Angeles Lakers to be able to acquire Kyrie Irving due to salary-cap issues and trade-asset deficiencies. But the buzz in league circles has persisted nonetheless.

Per NBA writer Marc Stein: "There are credible rumblings in circulation that Irving, for starters, has indeed had some recent contact with Lakers star LeBron James, his former Cleveland teammate, to presumably discuss a potential reunion in Hollywood. I'm told it would be a stretch, though, to suggest that the Lakers are currently pursuing Irving."

As Stein noted, the Lakers "do not possess the trade assets to realistically engage Brooklyn in Irving trade talks even if he exercises his player option for next season."

Currently, the Lakers have James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook (assuming he opts into his $47 million player option, which he almost assuredly will), Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn under contract, with team options on Stanley Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel and Austin Reaves.

The only players the Nets would realistically want in an Irving trade would be James or AD. The Lakers aren't about to deal either. Westbrook isn't an option—he's a clear downgrade from Irving, the Nets would actually have to give up at least one other player to make the salaries work in the deal and there's that whole history between Kevin Durant and Russ to consider.

The other option is the Lakers finding a way to trade Westbrook to a team with cap space without taking back significant salary in return. But no team could currently absorb his full $47 million salary—the team with the most projected cap space this offseason is the Orlando Magic, at $27.5 million.

Perhaps in a complicated, multi-team deal, a team with some cap space could clear more room by sending some of its own players elsewhere to fully absorb Westbrook's contract from the Lakers. But that team would want enormous assets in return, likely in the form of future first-round picks and young talent, two areas where the Lakers are sorely lacking.

Or maybe the Lakers and Nets could engage in a complicated, multi-team deal if both Irving and Westbrook opt in to their player options, with the end goal being Irving landing in Los Angeles.

But here's the overlying point: Irving landing with the Lakers would either require the Nets to agree to a terrible trade that would potentially damage their relationship with Durant, would require Irving to take a $30 million pay cut next season or would require an incredibly complicated, multi-team trade where a number of teams basically bent over backward to help the Lakers secure Kyrie.

None of those scenarios feel even mildly realistic. But when it comes to both the Lakers and Irving, well, you never quite know.