Kyrie Irving can say he doesn’t want to be in the middle of NBA free agency speculation, but when he sits on the court in Los Angeles during a few Lakers playoff games, he must know it will spark some talks.
LeBron James has sent his not-so-subtle message that he wants more help, and rumors that he’s open to reuniting with Irving are nothing new. All of this has sparked a lot of speculation in recent weeks about a Lakers signing and trading to reunite the core of the Cavaliers’ title team in 2016. While Irving is a free agent, the Lakers have made it clear that ‘they intended to re-sign Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura as restricted free agents, which makes Irving’s signing straight off the table (unless he wants to take a massive pay cut and playing for the middle level exception, which his actions indicate he is not doing). If Irving comes to the Lakers, it’s on a sign and trade.
So who’s going back to Dallas in this business? Speculation centered on the signing and trading of free agent D’Angelo Russell to play alongside Luka Dončić. However, the Mavericks have no interest in that, reports Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.
A popular topic all week, in the wake of Denver sweeping the Lakers out of the Western Conference Finals, was the idea that LA could emerge as a potential signing-and-trade destination for future Dallas free agent Kyrie. Irving.
While we await a clear indication of the Lakers’ intentions there, with no verifiable signal as of yet that pursuing Irving is among their priorities this offseason, league sources say the Mavericks won’t would have no interest in signing and trading with the Lakers. D’Angelo Russell as the main Dallas-bound player. Everything indicates that the Mavericks remain committed to re-signing Irving
While questions of the fit between Dončić and Irving remain, when the Mavericks traded for Irving, they committed to that path, both financially and on the field. If Irving enters free agency, Dallas has no way of replacing him, and they’re better off with him than without him. Irving is a much better player than Russell and with Dončić on the roster, the Mavericks are a winning team now. Their preference is clear.
As for Irving, he wants to get paid (remember he opted for the Nets over leaving to play for less, then pushed for a trade when Brooklyn wouldn’t give him the extension he wanted). It makes sense for Dallas and Irving to make a new deal and, if that marriage doesn’t work out, trade it down the line. The only questions are money, years and does Irving really want to be in Dallas (he said so).
League sources tell NBC Sports that the Lakers front office isn’t focused on Irving. While the Lakers could clear up nearly $30 million in cap space, free agency isn’t the route the Lakers seem to be going. Re-signing Reaves and Hachimura and putting them next to LeBron and Anthony Davis – the two Lakers stars earning more than $40 million next season – in addition to rounding out the roster, the Lakers are rapidly pushing over the ceiling and in the tax, and the second the tax apron is within sight. The Lakers are more likely to make moves like picking up the $16.5 million team option on Malik Beasley and trading him and other players for creating shots and shooting they wish. A signing and trading of Russell is certainly on the line, or they could bring him back, but not on anything close to the max that Russell likely wants (more likely a deal starting around $20 million a year). Russell was good for the Lakers in the regular season and had a 31-point playoff game to close out the Grizzlies, plus a 21-point game against the Warriors, he was just in a bad game against Denver.
Irving at the Lakers is a long shot. But if LeBron wants it, and Irving wants it, nothing is on the table.
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Report: Mavericks have no interest in Irving signing and trading to Lakers, which brings Russell back originally appeared on NBCSports.com