The Los Angeles Lakers were perceived to be a potential landing spot point guard Kyrie Irving if he was traded by the Brooklyn Nets, but that no longer appears to be the case.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported Monday that the Lakers have "significant concerns about the prospect of adding Irving at any price and have not been focused on that scenario all season long." Irving is serving a suspension of at least five games for promoting an antisemitic film on social media.
This past offseason, Irving was the subject of substantial speculation as it appeared that the Nets were ready to move on from the controversial point guard. Jake Fischer, then of Bleacher Report, told NBA insider Marc Stein in June that Irving "definitely was considering taking the taxpayer mid-level exception to play for the Lakers" before he exercised his $37 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Chris Haynes reported for Yahoo Sports in early July that Los Angeles and Brooklyn were "actively engaged in discussions" regarding a potential trade for Irving in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Those talks eventually fizzled, and after the trade request by star forward Kevin Durant was rescinded, Brooklyn moved forward without making significant changes to its core in hopes of contending for an NBA title this season.
However, that didn't end the chatter about Irving's desire to join the Lakers. Last month, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Irving doesn't plan on re-signing with the Nets when he becomes a free agent next summer and intends to sign with Los Angeles.
Hoop Central @TheHoopCentral
Stephen A. Smith: "This is their (Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) last season together. They're not re-signing with Brooklyn. Kyrie is not re-signing with Brooklyn. Kyrie is planning to go to Los Angeles.”<br><br>(h/t <a href="https://twitter.com/_Talkin_NBA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_Talkin_NBA</a>)<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/BZ46udCwvv">pic.twitter.com/BZ46udCwvv</a>
Prior to his suspension, Irving hadn't done much to improve his perception around the league. The 30-year-old had already caused tumult off the court for his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and his opposition to vaccine mandates. He became the source of even more controversy when he posted a tweet that featured a link to a film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.
As part of their announcement of Irving's suspension Thursday, the Nets said they "were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs." The seven-time All-Star later issued an apology with a statement on social media.
Ben Golliver @BenGolliver
Kyrie Irving issues an apology amid antisemitism controversy that led to his suspension by Nets: “To all Jewish families and communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize.” <a href="https://t.co/QUXt1WtK2g">pic.twitter.com/QUXt1WtK2g</a>
In eight games this season, Irving averaged 26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists. The Nets were 2-6 with him in the lineup and have since improved to 4-6 heading into Monday's matchup at the Dallas Mavericks (5-3).