Kyrie Irving must really, truly not care what anyone thinks about him, or at least that will have to be the case if the superstar winds up in Hollywood this summer.
The Boston Celtics guard is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent when the new league year begins in July and will be a central figure in what should be the most fascinating offseason in NBA history. Despite preseason pledges to re-sign with Boston, Irving undoubtedly will play the field after a tumultuous two-season stint in green.
Irving jetting to New York alongside Kevin Durant has long seemed like the most likely outcome, but what if Irving heads west to team up with his old friend LeBron James? Despite the way their relationship in Cleveland ended, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Irving ends up joining James as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“As time passes here,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently said on his podcast, “I would have said that this is impossible for many months, but as time passes here, and as the possibility exists that Jason Kidd could be hired as the Lakers coach, I think the possibility of Kyrie and LeBron reuniting is — that door that was deadbolted has now been ‘undeadbolted’ and is now cracked open. It might even be opening more by the day.”
Ultimately, the Lakers decided against hiring Kidd as their head coach. LA hired Frank Vogel but added Kidd to the staff as an assistant, so that connection is there.
“I just think it’s on Kyrie’s radar. I think it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers,” Windhorst added.
This isn’t unprecedented news, though. Despite that pledge to stay in Boston, rumors about Irving’s willingness to join James in Los Angeles date all the way back to January. Irving’s otherwise random midseason phone call to bury the hatchet with James only adds to the intrigue.
Leaving the Celtics to join the Lakers under any scenario would make someone persona non grata in Boston, but under these circumstances, Irving could become one of the biggest villains in Boston sports history. So much was made about Irving’s supposed desire to get out from underneath James’ shadow and make it on his own. He wanted to be the man and lead a team to the promised land like James did in Miami and then with the Cavs and Irving ultimately forced his way out of Cleveland to do so.
Despite landing in seemingly the perfect spot with the Celtics, Irving wasn’t able to do much of anything with one of the NBA’s best head coaches and arguably the most talented young core in the sport. The Celtics actually went farther last year without Irving, who was on the sideline with a knee injury, than they did this year with him on the court. In fact, Irving was one of the biggest reasons Boston was trounced in just five games by the Milwaukee Bucks, as Irving — who spent a good part of a dysfunctional season saying he’d turn it on in the playoffs — played some of the worst basketball of his career in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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