Nets star Kyrie Irving has requested another trade, and despite his many issues in Brooklyn, teams are inquiring. For now, it seems no one is more interested than the Lakers.
And why not? The Lakers have the least to lose. They’re likely not going anywhere special as is. So aside from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Nets could have just about anyone they want off the Lakers (though Jovan Buha of The Athletic wrote that LA would also want to hang on to guards Austin Reaves and Max Christie).
The Suns may be the one team in this mix that could allow both themselves and the Nets to continue to dream big — this season. That’s something Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report mentioned and he is correct.
Any Suns-Nets deal would involve Chris Paul, and while he turns 38 in May and has had an injury-riddled and up-and-down season, would immediately fill the Nets’ point guard need.
The Nets would also undoubtedly ask for either Mikal Bridges or Cam Johnson, and either of those forwards would be difficult to part with, but you can be almost certain the Suns would have to do it. Unless, of course, they could convince the Nets that Paul, Jae Crowder and some filler are still better than anything the Lakers (and maybe the Mavs) could offer.
Something else to keep in mind here is that Suns GM James Jones is a former teammate of Irving’s from their days as Cavaliers. It’s been said that Irving has a great deal of respect for Jones. So Irving very well could be open to an extension with Phoenix.
For the Mavs, the entire point of an Irving trade would be to place him next to Luka Doncic. So the Nets could have their pick of just about anyone else.
Per Marc Stein of The Stein Line, it’s believed the Nets would “covet” former Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie and reportedly available small forward Dorian Finney-Smith as part of an Irving deal. While neither is a huge name, the Nets will likely be focused on players who fit around Kevin Durant (and to a lesser degree, Ben Simmons) — as opposed to more All-Stars.
This is where it gets tough because quite frankly, the Lakers have a lot fewer assets to move. They may just be the most hamstrung team in the league, even when it comes to adding marginal talent.
But the one big thing working in their favor is the idea that Irving wants to play there. If you believe the reports, the Lakers are Irving’s preferred destination.
Ex-Cavs teammate Tristan Thompson reported on ESPN that he sent Irving a text about getting “the band back together,” presumably in LA. Meaning James, Irving and Thompson, who won a title in 2016 with Cleveland. Thompson said that Irving responded with a heart emoji.
So, there’s that. Does it actually mean anything? Maybe. But the Lakers and Nets reportedly had talks on an Irving trade before the season, and the Nets quickly shot down anything the Lakers had to offer — which basically was Russell Westbrook and the Lakers’ first-round picks in 2027 and ’29.
Reports suggest that any Irving trade would again be centered on Westbrook, and given that the Nets aren’t interested, the Lakers would likely need to find a third team. That way, the Nets could get the type of assets they’re seeking.
If this were a less-glorified franchise than the Lakers, we’d all be saying they have no chance. But these are in fact the Lakers, and James, and agent Rich Paul, and they oftentimes have a way of getting what they want. Irving may really want them — and only them — as well.
Again, of all the candidates, the Lakers have the least to lose. They could immediately re-open their championship window if they were to land Irving and Irving focused on basketball. You can be sure the Lakers will explore every last avenue to make it happen.
While it seems they are absolute long shots, reality is, the Lakers’ chances to acquire Irving are at least as good as anyone’s, perhaps better.
Sam Amico is senior NBA writer at Hoops Wire. Email: email@example.com.