The Los Angeles Lakers’ master plan this offseason seemingly was to reunite LeBron James with Kyrie Irving, who won a championship together in Cleveland in 2015-16. For a while, it looked like both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were going to be traded by the Nets.
In the end, though, Brooklyn called Durant’s bluff after the superstar gave the franchise an ultimatum of choosing him or general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. After months of trade speculation, Durant recommitted to the Nets, which, in turn, saw Irving double down on his commitment.
While Brooklyn looks like fools for hitching its wagon to two of the most sensitive and ego-driven superstars in the NBA, Durant and Irving’s returns officially places them in the championship conversation, at least on paper.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are on the outside looking in of this discussion, but the front office is working hard to change that. A trade with the Indiana Pacers involving Buddy Hield and Myles Turner (or one or the other) has always felt like the most realistic outcome for LA and the latest Irving buzz make it all the more likely.
A free agent after 2022-23, the Lakers aren’t planning to save their cap space to splurge on Irving next summer, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
A Lakers-Pacers trade seems more likely now after this latest Kyrie Irving rumor.
This nugget comes after Buha, Shams Charania and Sam Amick reported Irving currently isn’t part of the Lakers’ long-term plans.
While pairing Irving with LeBron and Anthony Davis theoretically gives Los Angles the best chance to compete for a title, it’d be foolish of Rob Pelinka to put all of his eggs into the Irving basket. If Brooklyn goes to the Finals with Durant and Irving leading the way, Irving might be convinced to re-sign with the Nets.
Whatever happens with Kyrie, this newest rumor increases the likelihood of the Lakers striking a deal with the Pacers. Are we speaking it into existence? Maybe a little bit, but The Athletic’s report indicated LA and Indiana have been in trade talks throughout the summer. Most of those iterations involved Hield and Turner as the centerpieces.
It might not get done before the season, but surely the Pacers have some semblance of motivation to build for the future, no?
Think about it. Indiana just traded franchise cornerstone Domantas Sabonis for budding point guard Tyrese Haliburton. Jettisoning Hield and Turner to a desperate Lakers team could put the Pacers in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. At the very least, they’ll be in contention for a top-five pick.
Pair Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, Chris Duarte and Jalen Smith with another top-five pick and suddenly Indiana has a promising young core.
It’s an obvious win-win for both teams. When it will happen is anyone’s guess, but the Lakers reportedly not framing their 2023 offseason around Irving makes us think it’s a matter of if, not when, a trade with Indiana gets done.