Kyrie Irving Rumors: Lakers Believe Ex-Celtics Star Heading to Nets

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIIJune 29, 2019

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics
shoots in front of Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on May 08, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 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. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

All signs continue to point to Brooklyn. 

According to The Athletic's Joe Vardon, one of the Los Angeles Lakers' top recruiters believes Kyrie Irving will sign with the Brooklyn Nets once free agency begins Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. 

Irving has long been linked to Brooklyn, but ESPN's Ramona Shelburne said on The Jump Friday that the Lakers only wanted to spend on a max player if said player is Irving or Kawhi Leonard (h/t RealGM). 

Thursday, the New York Times' Marc Stein reported that Irving "remains as much a target for the Lakers as Kawhi Leonard." 

"They are swinging for the fences despite all of the signals that have pointed to Irving to Brooklyn," Stein added.

It seems L.A., like the New York Knicks, have struck out with Irving. 

Irving has reportedly been "prepared" to sign with the Nets since at least mid-June, according to the Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett. However, there have been some question marks thrown in that made things interesting.

For one, the New York Post's Brian Lewis reported June 19 that Brooklyn's interest in Irving was tethered to a commitment from fellow unrestricted free agent Kevin Durant:

"The Post has confirmed Brooklyn might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving if he isn't bringing the injured Durant with him.

"Other teams had already backed off of pursuing Irving with similar concerns over the way things went awry in Boston. If the Nets do the same, it would mean keeping [D'Angelo] Russell, who is a younger and cheaper option as a restricted free agent."

Russell is still in the picture. The Nets extended a qualifying offer to make their 23-year-old All-Star point guard a restricted free agent, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Friday.

While Durant's future is still up in the air—though Brooklyn is one of four teams ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the two-time Finals MVP will entertain—the Nets may decide that one max player is better than none. 

Wojnarowski followed Vardon's report Saturday with one stating that the Nets and Irving are expected to meet in New York Sunday and are "motivated to move quickly" to lock Irving into a four-year, $141 million contract. Should Irving commit, Brooklyn is expected to then renounce Russell and let him become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving was a Nets fan growing up in Orange County, New Jersey. The thought of a fresh start with his childhood team is presumably especially enticing following a tumultuous two-year stint in Boston.