After three years of working together, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are expected to part ways this summer. Irving may have initially expressed his desire to return to the Nets in the 2022-23 NBA season but with their refusal to give him a long-term extension, rumors are circulating that he's planning to explore other options in the 2022 NBA free agency. According to Kristian Winfield of New York Daily News, Irving's camp "has requested and received permission from the Nets to speak with other teams about sign-and-trade packages."
NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving Willing To Give Lakers Huge Discount To Reunite With LeBron James In LA
Kyrie Irving Linked To LA Lakers
A few days ago, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that Irving has a list of teams that he wanted to acquire him from the Nets via a sign-and-trade deal. These include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and the New York Knicks. However, of all those teams, Wojnarowski recently reported that only the Lakers have a real interest in pursuing a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets. Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Nets reportedly don't have any interest in the assets that they currently possess.
Kyrie Irving Ready To Help LA Lakers
The Nets' lack of interest in their available trade packages is definitely bad news for the Lakers. However, if the Nets aren't willing to engage in a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers, it seems like Irving has another way to make his reunion with LeBron James in Los Angeles possible this summer. On Twitter, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report revealed that Irving is willing to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Nets and sign the $6 million taxpayer mid-level exception with the Lakers in the 2022 NBA free agency.
Lakers Boost Championship Odds
Convincing Irving to sign the TPMLE instead of acquiring him via a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets would be a dream scenario for the Lakers. It would allow them to keep the limited trade assets that they have while adding another legitimate superstar who would help James and Anthony Davis carry the team in the 2022-23 NBA season. The "Big Three" of Irving, James, and Davis would undoubtedly give the Lakers a better chance of returning to the NBA Finals and winning the NBA championship title next year.
However, even if they get Irving using the TPMLE, the Lakers would still need to make a decision on Russell Westbrook. If they fail to convince him to accept an off-ball role and focus more on defense, the Lakers should do everything they can to unload him before the start of the season.
Nets Could Face Huge Dilemma
If they realize that Irving is serious about opting out and giving the Purple and Gold a massive discount in the 2022 NBA free agency, the Nets could immediately change their stance about engaging in a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers. A potential trade with the Lakers may force them to absorb Westbrook and his $47 million contract in the 2022-23 NBA season, but it's still better than losing Irving as a free agent without getting anything in return.
In the deal that would send Irving to Los Angeles, the Nets could possibly get the Lakers' 2027 and 2029 first-rounders and young players such as Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves.