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Recent Developments Regarding Kyrie Irvings And The Los Angeles Lakers

Image Source: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Reiterating a recent report by Adrian Wojnarowski, Marc Stein affirms in his most recent Substack piece that the Lakers have reassured LeBron James of their willingness to part ways with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in a trade aimed at bolstering the team’s chances of becoming a true contender once more.

Due to the agreement where they sent their 2024 first-round pick to New Orleans and granted the Pelicans the option to defer that pick to 2025, the Lakers are restricted from trading a first-rounder earlier than 2027 under the Stepien rule, which bars teams from depriving themselves of a first-round pick in consecutive upcoming drafts.

Nevertheless, L.A. could trade away their 2027 and 2029 picks without violating said rule, and Stein becomes the second journalist this week to hint at the notion that the organization would be open to relinquishing both these first-rounders in exchange for Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The highly decorated player is reportedly high on James’ priority list, with reports indicating that LeBron was “strongly insistent” prior to his contract extension on the Lakers acquiring his former teammate.

Crucially, Stein highlights the uncertainty surrounding whether the Lakers would demand protection for the two first-round picks — an essential factor, as a duo of lottery-protected first-rounders would hold far lesser value compared to two unprotected selections.

Significantly, the Nets have consistently turned down the proposed idea of a swap involving Irving and Russell Westbrook that includes obtaining the aforementioned Lakers’ first-round picks, as stated by Stein, who mentions that Brooklyn seems intent on obtaining assets that can contribute immediately should Irving be traded.

While a change in stance remains plausible, especially if the Nets opt to move Kevin Durant, it seems evident for now that any potential trade sending Irving to L.A. would necessitate the involvement of a third party to absorb Westbrook and the draft picks, while delivering present-day contributors to Brooklyn, according to Stein.

The Nets’ reluctance towards a Westbrook/Irving transaction could also be tied to their determination to maintain their current roster intact, as suggested by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst during an appearance on Get Up on Thursday (video link). Despite Kyrie’s exploration of alternative options before exercising his player option and Durant’s request for a trade, Brooklyn has shown no urgencies in disbanding their core.

“I believe Kyrie is committed to being part of the Brooklyn Nets next season,” Windhorst shared. “There was some uncertainty regarding his contract extension. He understands that to secure the contract he desires, either with Brooklyn or elsewhere, he needs to have an exceptional season. Based on what I’ve gathered, it appears he and the Nets are eagerly anticipating meeting up in training camp.”

“At present, the key question is Kevin Durant’s availability. The Nets seem inclined to retain their current lineup and are hopeful that Kevin Durant aligns with their plan. The way negotiations are progressing and the demands they’re making suggest they are leaning towards retaining Kevin Durant rather than trading him. We’ll have to wait and see if Durant agrees heading into training camp.”

Image Source: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

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