3 players in the NBA Finals who definitely should have been Lakers

Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Five
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Five / David Berding/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Lakers were unable to cash in on their ever-shrinking title window this season, losing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to the Denver Nuggets. To make that even more painful, Lakers fans now have to watch the team's biggest rival — the Boston Celtics — in the NBA Finals.

Facing Boston is the Dallas Mavericks, who made an unexpected run to the Finals after finishing as fifth seed in the Western Conference. Dallas making this run to the Finals is a reminder that the Lakers had the talent to make a similar run but were ultimately held back by (now-former) head coach Darvin Ham.

Lakers fans are now stuck wondering what could have been. and it is not the only "what if" game that fans are playing. When fans look at the rosters of both teams, they are left looking at several players who could have been playing in Los Angeles instead.

The Lakers could have traded for Kyrie Irving in 2023

There was a lot of speculation around the Lakers trading for Kyrie Irving during the 2022 offseason. However, the price ultimately did not make sense as Irving and Kevin Durant gave it one more run with the Brooklyn Nets.

That run did not work and Irving hit the trade market again at the deadline in early 2023. Irving's going price ended up being extremely cheap — Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first and two future seconds.

This was a price the Lakers could have afforded when they traded Russell Westbrook. Instead, the Lakers went the route of trading for D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. While Lakers fans were happy with the deadline at the time, LeBron James himself admitted he was disappointed that the Lakers didn't trade for Kyrie.

Turns out, LeBron was probably right. Kyrie is in the NBA Finals while Russell has one foot out the door, Beasley has been long gone, and Vanderbilt is trade fodder after an injury-riddled year.