NBA

Kyrie Irving rumours: Lakers and Knicks interested in All-Star as Nets contract talks stall, report says

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Kyrie Irving has made it clear he’d rather stay in Brooklyn with the Nets at every turn. “There’s no way I can leave my man seven [Kevin Durant] anywhere”, he said in march. When the Nets were knocked out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, Irving reiterated his plans. “I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” he told the assembled press at the end of the Brooklyn season. But as free agency draws ever closer, it’s less and less likely that Irving will stay with the team he signed with the last time he had freedom of movement in 2019.

Contract talks between Irving and the Nets have reached an impasse, which has forced Irving to consider other possible destinations, according to The Athletic. Irving has a player option he can use to become a free agent in July, and it gives him significant leverage with the Nets in terms of landing with a preferred destination. According to Shams Charania, the Lakers, Clippers and Knicks would all be interested in Irving if he becomes available.

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The Knicks are probably the most important team involved in these proceedings because unlike the Lakers and Clippers, they at least have somewhat plausible paths to limit the space. While the Knicks are pretty much at the cap for next season, they have a reasonably mobile salary number that they could dump by attaching a capital draft. Charania nominates Evan Fournier, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Kemba Walker as candidates. This is so important because none of the teams with major cap space are expected to be in contention next season. If the Nets only had to compete against teams like the Magic and Pacers, they probably wouldn’t be worried. But an alternative in New York poses a real threat. If the Nets don’t cooperate to send Irving to the destination of his choice in a trade, he can threaten to just walk to the Knicks for nothing.

The Lakers and Clippers can’t create the cap space needed to sign Irving, but both would surely benefit from adding the star point guard through a trade. Such a trade would be predicated on Irving opting for the final year and $36.3 million on his deal, as the signing and trade deals create a hard cap on the luxury tax apron that no team can afford. is equipped to handle. Irving would then presumably negotiate an extension from there.

The Lakers would likely have to build their package around Russell Westbrook as a matching salary in such a deal. Westbrook also has a player option this offseason and will cost over $47 million when he inevitably picks it up. Brooklyn’s interest in Westbrook is likely to be lukewarm. The Nets already have a poor shooter in Ben Simmons around whom they will need to build an offense. In all likelihood, the Nets would rather send Westbrook to a third team. What should interest the Nets in making such a deal are the two unprotected first-round picks the Lakers can offer in the future in 2027 and 2029. At this point, LeBron James will be in his 40s and those picks could be very precious. . James and Irving won a championship together in Cleveland and could relish the opportunity to reunite.

The Clippers have a similar connection to Irving through head coach Ty Lue, who worked with Irving and James in Cleveland when they won the 2016 title. Unlike the Lakers, the Clippers only have only one first-round pick to dangle (2028). However, their salary ballast is much more palatable, as it is attached to valuable players like Norman Powell, Luke Kennard and Reggie Jackson, as opposed to Westbrook. As Charania notes, the Clippers have young players like Terance Mann and Brandon Boston to throw in a potential deal. Paying Irving wouldn’t be much of a problem for Steve Ballmer, who has already invested hundreds of millions in next season’s roster.

If Irving does leave Brooklyn, the Nets could easily pull themselves out of the championship chase altogether. After racking up three ball superstars, Brooklyn may soon be down to just one.

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