In what would have seemed like a laughable proposition five years ago, there is momentum building regarding a reunion of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Irving, who can become a free agent if he decides to decline his player option for the 2022-23 campaign with the Brooklyn Nets, reportedly is interested in joining James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“There are sources very close to the situation who strongly believe Irving is trying to make his way to the Lakers here and everything else is just (necessary) noise,” The Athletic’s Sam Amick wrote in a story published Monday.
Amick added: “The sense I get is that James is very open to the idea, but the dynamics are somewhat delicate too.”
The revisited connection would come after a well-documented breakup between James and Irving. The two stars played three seasons together with the Cleveland Cavaliers before Irving essentially forced a trade and landed the Boston Celtics before the 2017-18 campaign. James and Irving both have talked about the latter’s immaturity during that time. Irving shared how he apologized to James in 2019 before then leaving the Celtics for the Brooklyn Nets.
It appears it’s behind both.
The Nets have given Irving permission to seek sign-and-trade destinations, as reported by the New York Daily News on Monday. The Lakers currently are the only known team planning a pursuit of sign-and-trades for Irving, according to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski. LA is a bit hamstrung, though, given that Russell Westbrook has a $47 million player option himself.
Irving’s other option would be to become a free agent and play in LA on the taxpayer midlevel exception. Irving would make some $30 million less next season, but perhaps land him in a situation he desires. The massive pay cut has some skeptical — and for good reason — but Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Irving would be willing to play for the $6 million exception next season with the intention of signing long term in LA thereafter.
Irving needs to make a decision on his player option before Wednesday’s deadline.