It appears the Brooklyn Nets aren't interested in acquiring Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kyrie Irving, even in a package deal that includes the Purple and Gold's 2027 and 2029 first-round picks.
NBA insider Marc Stein wrote on Thursday:
"Sources confirm that they would be willing to surrender both firsts in tandem with Westbrook's $47.1 million expiring contract to acquire Irving (although it's unclear if the picks would be unprotected or protected).
"I'm told, however, that the Nets have steadfastly rejected that pitch."
L.A. has been very interested in acquiring Irving this summer and, according to The Athletic's Jovan Buha, LeBron James "has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for" the star point guard.
James recently agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million extension with the Lakers and is looking for roster improvements to help him lead the franchise to another NBA title before his tenure in L.A.—and possibly his career—comes to a close.
Irving has reportedly expressed interest in teaming up with James, his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate, this offseason, doing so even after he opted in to his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign.
The Lakers and Nets engaged in preliminary trade discussions surrounding an Irving-Westbrook swap in early July, according to Yahoo Sports Chris Haynes. However, Buha reported earlier this month that talks between the two sides had stalled and likely won't resume until Kevin Durant, who requested a trade at the end of June, is moved.
It's unclear if the Nets have plans to move Durant at this point. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on Get Up! that the franchise is interested in running it back with both Durant and Irving this coming season.
"Right now, I think the Nets want to run this team back, and they're hoping Kevin Durant agrees," Windhorst said (h/t RealGM).
"The way they're conducting trade talks and the prices they are asking has teams out there thinking they don't really want to trade Kevin Durant anyway. They want to bring this team back. We'll see if Kevin Durant goes along with that in training camp."
If the Nets don't move Durant, it's hard to imagine they'll trade Irving, who is reportedly "invested" in playing with the franchise in 2022-23, according to Windhorst.
Still, even if Irving isn't moved this summer, there's always the possibility he gets traded around the deadline if the Nets feel he will depart the organization as a free agent ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.
Buha reported on Aug. 3 that "all indications are that the Lakers are Irving's top destination if he leaves" the Nets, whether that be via trade or free agency.
As for Westbrook, it's not necessarily surprising that Brooklyn is hesitant to acquire him, even with first-round picks attached.
The 33-year-old is owed $47 million this season and is coming off arguably his worst NBA campaign. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 29.8 percent from deep.
L.A. went on to finish 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs. While the blame isn't all on Westbrook, he was certainly partially responsible for the team missing the cut.
At this point, it might be best for both teams to wait until both players become free agents next summer and avoid any sort of knee-jerk trade.