Most of the recent rumors surrounding Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving have him either joining the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets as a free agent this summer. However, the latest update from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggests that he could also opt to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers and join forces with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James for the first time in two years.
As quoted by the New York Post, Windhorst explained on Saturday’s episode of his Hoop Collective podcast that for many months, he had believed the prospect of Irving joining the Lakers was “impossible.” The ESPN writer then added that the passing of time, as well as the recent rumors surrounding Los Angeles’ search for a new head coach, had changed his outlook on the matter.
“That door, which was deadbolted, has been un-deadbolted and has now been cracked open,” Windhorst said. “It might even be opening more by the day. And I say that just because I think it’s on Kyrie’s radar, it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers.”
While Windhorst mentioned Jason Kidd as the potential candidate the Lakers were looking to hire as their coach, USA Today reported later on Saturday that Frank Vogel has just come to terms on a deal to coach the team, with Kidd joining his staff as an assistant. According to the New York Post, Irving grew up as a fan of the then-New Jersey Nets, around the same time when Kidd was playing for the team as one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Ahead of free agency, Kyrie Irving "has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers," per @WindhorstESPN.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2019
"That door, which was deadbolted, has now been un-deadbolted and is now cracked open. It might even be opening more by the day." pic.twitter.com/NMGhXhnsgr
At the moment, the Knicks and Nets remain the betting favorites in the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, with major oddsmakers generally ranking the Celtics at third place behind the two New York-based teams, per MassLive. The Lakers, meanwhile, haven’t been as prominent as the Knicks or the Nets as one of Irving’s suitors in free agency, despite the point guard’s recent reconciliation with James after a period of estrangement between the two superstars.
As pointed out by Yahoo Sports, Irving has the potential to make an immediate impact in Los Angeles as the second superstar the Lakers have long been searching for, while also addressing the team’s weaknesses beyond the arc. The Lakers finished second-to-last in three-point shooting in the 2018-19 regular season, while Irving has consistently shot better than 40 percent from three-point range since the 2016-17 campaign.
Should Irving wear the purple and gold next season, that could also allow the Lakers to trade erstwhile starter Lonzo Ball for a “proven contributor.” But since Ball stands 6-feet-6-inches and has a height advantage at his position, Yahoo Sports speculated that Los Angeles could keep him around and have him start alongside the former No. 1 overall draft pick.