Lakers Rumors: Kyrie Irving 'More Open' to Joining LeBron, LA in Free Agency

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving is reportedly "more open" to signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency than he was.

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, there has been a "thawing" between Irving and LeBron James in recent months that could make L.A. an option for Kyrie.

Windhorst theorized that the Lakers are "lower on the list" for Irving than the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets but noted that the Lakers are in the mix, and that Boston must be "worried" that L.A. could steal him.

Irving and James had an awkward breakup in Cleveland when Kyrie asked to be traded. The Cavaliers shipped Irving to Boston in August 2017.

Kyrie's desire to be the top dog and get out of LeBron's shadow played a role in the trade, but it wasn't long before Irving and James patched things up.

In January, Irving revealed that he called James and apologized for not realizing how difficult it was to lead a championship-caliber team during his time in Cleveland, per ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps:

"Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call [LeBron] and tell him I apologized for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that, and the responsibility of being the best in the world and leading your team is something that is not meant for many people.

"[LeBron] was one of those guys who came to Cleveland and tried to show us how to win a championship, and it was hard for him, and sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world."

As a tandem, James and Irving helped lead the Cavs to three straight NBA Finals appearances, and they won the 2016 NBA championship, which marked the first title in franchise history.

With James in desperate need of a star to play alongside him in L.A., Irving is a logical target for the Lakers.

Irving's future with the Celtics is in question after Boston fell in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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With Kyrie out for the playoffs last season, Boston made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, as the Celtics leaned on young players such as Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.

In October, Irving said at an event for Celtics season-ticket holders that he planned to re-sign with the organization: "I've shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year."

When asked again about his status in February, he said, "Ask me July 1," according to Jay King of The Athletic.

After finishing 10th in the Western Conference and missing the playoffs this season despite signing James, the Lakers will be big players in free agency and on the trade market.

Acquiring Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans is one possibility, but if that falls through, look for L.A. to push hard for the services of another star on the open market, such as Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker or perhaps even Irving.

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