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Report: Kyrie Irving for Russell Westbrook Trade Still Possibility for Lakers, Nets

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 29, 2022

Will Newton/Getty Images

There is reportedly still some belief within the NBA that superstar guard Kyrie Irving could end up with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Appearing Wednesday on ESPN's Get Up, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said multiple NBA executives suggested to him that the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets could revisit trade talks focused on Irving.

In such a scenario, the Lakers would reportedly send guard Russell Westbrook and draft compensation to the Nets for Irving, although Windhorst said the amount of draft compensation is "negotiable."

Irving removed the possibility of signing with the Lakers in free agency from the equation this week when he announced he opted in to the final year of his contract with the Nets at a salary of $36.5 million.

Before Irving opted in, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Kyrie had given the Nets a list of teams he would be interested in getting dealt to as part of a sign-and-trade.

The Lakers were reportedly the only team on that list to express mutual interest in Irving.

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Lakers were primarily interested in the idea of Irving opting out and then signing him in free agency rather than having to surrender draft capital.

L.A. only could have signed Kyrie to a $6.5 million exception since it is over the salary cap, which would have represented tremendous value.

Irving decided against leaving $30 million on the table, however, as he opted in and forced the Lakers to potentially consider other scenarios to acquire him.

Any trade of Kyrie to the Lakers would almost certainly have to include Westbrook since his $47 million expiring contract would make the salaries work.

Last offseason, the Lakers acquired Westbrook in a trade with the Washington Wizards for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in hopes he would be the third star they needed alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Westbrook is a nine-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, one-time NBA MVP and likely future Hall of Famer, but the 33-year-old veteran didn't mesh well with the Lakers last season.

He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and just 29.8 percent from beyond the arc for a Lakers team that missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record and struggled mightily when James and Davis missed time due to injury.

Irving has missed a lot of time in recent years with injuries and not being vaccinated against COVID-19, but the seven-time All-Star remains elite when he plays, averaging 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 three-pointers made and 1.4 steals in 29 games last season.

Kyrie is the type of player who would be able to carry the load if LeBron or AD miss time, plus he already has experience playing alongside James, as they won a championship together with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

Irving represents perhaps the Lakers' best chance to win another title with a core of James and Davis, so L.A. has to at least consider the possibility of trading for him.

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