Last week, LeBron James sat down with the Lakers front office to discuss a contract extension. However, in practice, the meeting was about strategy, defensive tenacity, rotations and the roster. LeBron wants to win and recognizes there needs to be changes.
A couple of days later, a report comes out that the Lakers will now put both of their available first-round picks — 2027 and 2029 — into a Kyrie Irving trade with the Nets, via Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
…the Los Angeles Lakers are now reportedly willing to include both 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks in a deal for Kyrie Irving. Earlier in the offseason, the Nets were unwilling to take back Russell Westbrook in any Irving deal. It is unclear if their stance remains unchanged or could change depending on what is received in a potential Durant deal.
The Lakers have been unwilling to put both of their picks in a trade to upgrade their roster this offseason. Maybe that has changed, with the Lakers realizing it’s the only way to get any deal done — and with a 37-year-old LeBron, this team is as win-now as it gets. The Lakers should go all-in for the right deal. That said, while Winfield is an outstanding and connected reporter, because this comes out of New York (presumably from a Nets connection), take it with a grain of salt. It’s also possible Irving is the only player the Lakers would give up both picks for, although maybe not (or the protections the Lakers want on the picks are too steep for the Nets).
Even with both picks in the mix, there are a lot of hurdles to clear before an Irving to the Lakers trade gets done.
• As mentioned in the story, the Nets have shown no interest in having Westbrook on their roster, which means involving a third team — the Spurs or Pacers most likely — to take him on (then buy him out). The challenge is those teams would expect first-round draft pick compensation, and if both Lakers’ picks are headed to the Nets, who sends picks to the third team? The Nets only have one first-rounder they could send out (2027, most of theirs belong to Houston from the James Harden deal). But why would they give up a pick unless there is much more than Westbrook coming back to them?
• Would other players — the Nets’ Joe Harris possibly — be part of the trade?
• The Nets have wanted to take care of any Kevin Durant trade before making an Irving trade, but Durant trade talks are stalled out right now.
• Irving has made it clear of late that he wants to play out this season in Brooklyn (and likely raise his trade value by doing so). Maybe he would alter that stance to play with LeBron again in Los Angeles and be on a team with at the very least a puncher’s chance to contend, but predicting what Irving wants or will do is always risky.