Report: Lakers would need to send out first-round pick in Kyrie Irving trade

0 Comments

The Lakers remain the only serious suitor for Kyrie Irving, sources tell NBC Sports, and that, combined with Irving wanting to be a Laker, is why the trade almost certainly will get done.

Eventually.

Right now, the logistics of pulling off the trade — and the fact that the Nets want to get their Kevin Durant trade done first, which is a massive deal that will take time to put together — have dragged out things on the Irving front. One thing is for sure, Marc Stein wrote in his latest Substack newsletter, the Lakers will have to give up one of their future first-round picks to get it done.

League sources maintain that the Nets are A) focused on trying to assemble a palatable Kevin Durant trade before proceeding to Irving scenarios and B) adamant in their resistance to taking back Westbrook in a theoretical Irving swap without, for starters, some first-round draft compensation added by the Lakers.

After sending out a treasure trove of picks to get Anthony Davis (a move that got them a banner), the Lakers are trying to restock their pick supply. They don’t want to send out another. They can trade their 2027 and/or 2029 first-round picks in a trade (although both could convey a year early, depending on details with picks sent to the Pelicans) but are trying not to.

The Lakers may not have a choice.

Then there’s the money — the Lakers don’t want to take on more of it. Neither do the Nets. The Lakers paid $45.1 million in luxury tax last season, bringing their player salary-and-tax bill to a little over $200 million — remember, the Lakers are the primary Buss family business. While few teams come close to generating the revenue the Lakers do, Lakers ownership does not have a massive outside source of income to fall back on — like Nets owner Joseph Tsai does (he’s the co-founder of shopping site Alibaba). The Nets had a $97.7 million tax bill last season (a total payroll and tax in the $277 million range) and Tsai pushed out his Brooklyn CEO over the company’s income generation.

Neither team wants to go deeper into the tax, but Russell Westbrook makes about $11 million more than Irving next season, and the Nets are looking to get off other salaries, such as Joe Harris. It makes the financial dance tricky and could bring a third team — San Antonio? — into the mix to take on Westbrook and his salary (and buy him out). But the Spurs will want draft compensation for their troubles.

It’s a complex trade. It still likely gets done because there are no other teams challenging with strong offers for Irving. Meanwhile, Irving was working out in Los Angeles, attended a WNBA Sparks game, then showed up in Las Vegas for Summer League on Sunday (watching the Thunder and Rockets). Westbrook showed up in Vegas too, to watch the Lakers, and he and LeBron James stayed on opposite sides of the gym and did not speak.

It’s going to take a while for this trade to come together.