Kyrie Irving's Playing Status for Drew League Up in Air amid Lakers Rumors

Erin WalshJuly 17, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 7: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets attends the game between the Seattle Storm and the Los Angeles Sparks on July 7, 2022 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made his highly-anticipated return to the Drew League on Saturday for the MMV Cheaters, and while Kyrie Irving was also supposed to participate in the annual Pro-Am showcase, it's unclear if he will play after not showing up for Saturday's slate.

"We still have a couple games left today and then six tomorrow. So, (we'll see). But that sounded like it was going to be a sure bet, but I don't know what happened," Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley told Dave McMenamin of ESPN when asked about Irving.

Irving was expected to suit up in the Los Angeles-based Pro-Am amid trade rumors linking him to the Lakers. He was initially scheduled to play before James and DeMar DeRozan's game, and it's unclear why he opted not to play.

Rumors linking Irving to the Lakers have been swirling all summer.

A recent report from Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times indicated that some of the Lakers' biggest stars have been pushing for the franchise to make a deal for Irving.

“The relationship between the Lakers and [Russell] Westbrook has looked severely strained this offseason. He attended the Lakers’ summer league opener in Las Vegas, but he and LeBron James, who was also there, didn’t speak — a stark contrast to their time together last summer. The awkwardness was noted throughout NBA circles, with strong beliefs that the Lakers’ biggest stars have been pushing for the team to trade for Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.”

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith previously suggested that Irving wanted to team up with James in L.A. "as soon as he possibly can." The Athletic's Sam Amick, Alex Schiffer and Joe Vardon added that the 30-year-old was focused on joining the Purple and Gold in 2022-23 even before opting in to his Nets contract.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this month that the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were engaged in trade negotiations centered around Irving and Westbrook. ESPN's Brian Windhorst added Monday on Get Up (h/t Nets Daily) that the Lakers were the only team expressing interest in the veteran point guard this summer.

However, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reported Thursday that a "source close to Irving" said he never requested a trade and wants to remain in Brooklyn despite Kevin Durant requesting a move out of the city.

That said, it wouldn't be surprising if Irving truly did want to team up with James again as the two led the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016. The duo, along with Anthony Davis, would make the Purple and Gold a serious threat in the Western Conference.

If Irving eventually does suit up in the Drew League, rumors of him joining the Lakers will only continue to grow.