What a difference a few short years can make.
It was just two summers ago when Kyrie Irving demanded his way out of Cleveland in order to free himself from LeBron James’ shadow. Now, a reunion between the two superstars appears to be on the table.
Irving is eligible to opt out of his contract with the Boston Celtics in the offseason and become a free agent. And according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the continued fence-mending between Irving and James has put the Los Angeles Lakers in position to at least court the star point guard.
“If you had asked me six months ago, I’d had said the door was closed and locked — that was not gonna happen,” Windhorst said Monday night on ESPN. “But over the last few months, there is no doubt there’s been a thawing between Kyrie and LeBron, and Kyrie has become to be more open to joining the Lakers and has done some research on the organization.
“That said, with Magic (Johnson) leaving — that was a guy he felt a connection to — and with great opportunities in Brooklyn and in New York, plus Boston trying to keep him, I think the Lakers are lower on his list. But they’re on his list, and that gives them a fighting chance. Boston has got to still be worried about the Lakers in the Kyrie pursuit.”
Windhorst’s report counters a previous one from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who declared there’s “no chance in hell” Irving takes his talents to Los Angeles. The “First Take” co-host believes there’s a “95 percent chance” the 27-year-old joins the New York Knicks, with whom many expect Irving to join forces with Kevin Durant.
It’s become pretty clear that Irving and James have reconciled on a personal level, but a restored relationship doesn’t necessarily translate to interest in being teammates again. And if Irving’s desire to be a leader still burns strong, signing with the Purple and Gold wouldn’t make much sense.