NBA Rumors: Lakers, Nets 'Actively Engaged' on Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook Trade

Erin WalshJuly 2, 2022

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It appears that the idea of Kyrie Irving teaming up with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers is gaining traction.

The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are "actively engaged" in trade discussions centered around Irving and Russell Westbrook, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

"There's palpable optimism that an agreement can be struck between the two sides this offseason, but there remain a few hurdles, sources said," Haynes wrote.

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

Brooklyn Nets maintain discussions have only been preliminary at this point, sources say. <a href="https://t.co/nKKTFGiMj2">https://t.co/nKKTFGiMj2</a>

The two sides continue to talk about draft compensation, and the Nets want the Lakers to take Joe Harris in the deal, according to Haynes.

Harris, who is recovering from ankle surgery, is owed $38.6 million over the next two years, and the Purple and Gold "have been disinclined to the inclusion of" the veteran, Haynes added. L.A. wants Seth Curry included in the deal instead.

"The Nets are not expected to be rushed into a deal and will continue conversing the complex specifics with the Lakers on an Irving-Westbrook swap," Haynes wrote.

The news comes after ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Irving wanted to re-join James in L.A. "as soon as he possibly can" (h/t Adam Zagoria of NJ Advance Media. In addition, The Athletic's Jovan Buha and Sam Amick reported that Irving teaming up with James again is a real possibility.

Amick, Alex Schiffer and Joe Vardon of The Athletic added that Irving was focused on joining the Lakers before opting in to his contract with the Nets for the 2022-23 season.

Nonetheless, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Friday on First Take that Irving would need to wait for a possible trade until Kevin Durant's situation was sorted out. Durant requested a trade from the Nets on Thursday, and moving him should fetch Brooklyn a significant return.

It's no surprise that Irving wants to team up with James again. The two led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a title in 2016, and the pair, along with Anthony Davis, would likely position the Purple and Gold as championship favorites.

L.A.'s interest in Irving isn't surprising, as the franchise has been looking to move Westbrook after he struggled to get into a groove alongside James and Davis during the 2021-22 campaign.

Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 29.8 percent from deep. While it was arguably his worst season in the NBA, he could benefit from a change of scenery.

Moving Westbrook will require the Lakers to attach some intriguing draft compensation. His salary for the 2022-23 season is $47.1 million, while Irving's sits at $36.5 million.

The Lakers may not need to outbid any other teams for Irving's services, though, as Windhorst reported that league executives believe his trade value "is going down, down, down."

The 30-year-old was limited to just 29 games during the 2021-22 season after he refused to comply with New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

That said, he still impressed when he was on the floor, averaging 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 41.8 percent from deep.

In addition to the Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks have been linked to Irving this summer.