NBA trade rumors: Lakers are obvious best fit for Kyrie Irving trade

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images /

The NBA Trade Deadline is just six days away, and the Los Angeles Lakers have a decision on their hands. Do they sit tight, save their resources for this offseason and play the rest of the season out? Or do they push in their chips to make a big addition to the roster?

Their strong play recently likely leans the team’s decision-makers towards the latter option, but then the question becomes what player to pursue. Is there a player out there good enough to raise their ceiling but available enough for the Lakers to add given their limited resources?

The answer may have just fallen into their lap.

The Los Angeles Lakers may be the perfect fit to make a trade for Kyrie Irving

We should have known that Kyrie Irving would find a way to draw attention back to him. This season has been a roller coaster of media attention because of Kyrie’s antics, from potential new homes during the offseason, to promoting anti-Semitic messages, to his normal incredible play on the court.

Now he has grabbed the spotlight once again. Just as teams began to come to grips with how few sellers there were out there, and fans processed the possibility of a quiet deadline, suddenly the drama is back. Seemingly out of nowhere, Kyrie Irving has informed the Brooklyn Nets that he would like to be traded before the February 9 deadline:

It may not be surprising for Kyrie Irving to do something unexpected, but it’s certainly a surprise from the Nets’ perspective. When both Kyrie and Kevin Durant have been healthy, the Nets have been absolutely crushing teams. Even with a recent slump while Durant has been out due to injury, the Nets are fourth in the East and within striking distance of second.

It seems that Irving made the trade request after getting an extension offer from the Nets that was either too low or too short, and Kyrie doesn’t want to limit his options this summer to cap space teams. If he is traded now, he can play the playoffs with another team and then re-sign this summer (or even sign an extension with his new team).

Which teams might be interested in Irving? They would need to have some sort of assets to interest Brooklyn, enough matching salary to make the trade legal, and enough of a win-now focus to risk adding Irving to the mix. Even more importantly, they need strong leadership on the roster.

The team that best fits those criteria? None other than the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers are 11-7 in their last 18 games, righting the ship and pushing into the morass in the Western Conference. They may be in 12th place, but they are just three games out of fourth. LeBron James is having the best 38-year-old season in NBA history (it’s not even close) and Anthony Davis just returned from injury.

Those two players are good enough that the Lakers can reasonably think they have a shot at the title if they add a big piece. The Kyrie Irving seen on basketball courts is an elite scorer, has proven playoff success and has something of a track record winning next to LeBron James.

That’s probably why the Lakers are thought to be a team Kyrie Irving is interested in himself, and the interest is very likely mutual:

Any trade for Irving has to include Russell Westbrook; the Lakers have no other way to stack together salaries to match Irving’s contract. That means to add Kyrie, the Lakers have to not only compensate Brooklyn for Irving, but they also have to compensate the Nets for taking on Westbrook.

Brooklyn’s leverage is much less than it was this offseason when Kyrie had an entire season ahead of him and hadn’t been suspended by the team for his conduct. With Kyrie requesting a trade and headed to unrestricted free agency, the Nets can’t exactly sell “we’ll just keep him and re-sign him”. They can’t ask for the moon here.

Could the Lakers put together a package involving just one of their future first-round picks, or perhaps a pick and a swap? Could they find a third team to send veterans to the Nets that can take on Westbrook’s contract? These are the permutations and negotiations the Lakers will be engaging in over the next few days.

If the Lakers don’t trade for Kyrie, it’s hard to find a potential trade partner who will give the Lakers a better player for less. The Lakers have the right composition to handle Irving, LeBron’s status is such that Irving won’t try to overstep his role, and their timeline is short enough to justify only keeping Irving on a one-or-two-year deal.

Grading every trade Rob Pelinka has made for the Los Angeles Lakers. dark. Next

It’s impossible to predict what will happen, especially when both Kyrie Irving and this front office are involved. Even so, this is a potential trade that is very realistic, and it’s possible the situation allows the Lakers to add Irving for less than they would have paid in the summer. There’s never a dull moment in the NBA.