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Kyrie Irving Rumors: Rival Execs, Scouts 'Split' on If Lakers Can Pull Off Nets Trade

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 12, 2022

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

There are reportedly dissenting opinions within the NBA regarding whether the Los Angeles Lakers can pull off a trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, rival scouts and executives are "split" on if the Lakers will be able to find a way to pry Kyrie out of Brooklyn.

Woike also noted that the early August deadline to sign LeBron James to a contract extension is viewed as a "key date" in terms of acquiring Irving by then to help convince James to remain in the fold longer.

Perhaps the biggest issue preventing the Lakers from acquiring Irving is a lack of valuable assets aside from James and Anthony Davis, neither of whom they would be willing to include in the deal.

The dream scenario for L.A. would have seen Kyrie opting out of the final year of his contract, becoming a free agent and signing with the Lakers for the taxpayer exception.

That would have required Irving to leave about $30 million on the table, though, and he clearly wasn't willing to do that, as he opted in for 2022-23 at a salary of $36.5 million.

At the time of the opt-in, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Irving had previously submitted a list to the Nets of teams he wanted them to try to work on a sign-and-trade deal with.

Wojnarowski noted that the only team on the list known to express mutual interest in Irving was the Lakers.

ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst has been at the forefront of the Irving-to-Lakers rumors, and he expressed his belief last week on ESPN's Get Up that Kyrie will get traded to L.A. eventually.

Windhorst conceded that it is a difficult situation since the Nets would almost certainly have to take Russell Westbrook in the deal, who earns $11 million more than Irving and isn't as good at this point in their careers, but he also noted that the market is "very narrow" for Kyrie.

If the Nets trade Kevin Durant per his request, it is unlikely that they will want to keep Irving, as their aspirations of winning a championship would essentially be up in smoke at that point.

It is possible that the Lakers are the only team that wants Irving, and if that is the case, the Nets would perhaps be best off getting as much draft compensation out of them as they can and moving on from the failed Durant-Irving experiment.

During his three years in Brooklyn, Irving missed significant time because of injury and his vaccination status, but he continued to play at an All-Star level when healthy.

In 29 games last season, the 30-year-old veteran averaged 27.4 points, 5.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 three-pointers made and 1.4 steals per game.

The seven-time All-Star is precisely the type of player the Lakers need after going a disappointing 33-49 last season and missing the playoffs.

L.A.'s struggles largely had to do with both James and Davis missing time because of injury, but Westbrook's subpar play was an issue as well.

Kyrie would represent a huge upgrade and possibly get the Lakers back in the championship mix, so they almost have to do everything in their power to land him short of parting with LeBron or AD.

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