The Los Angeles Lakers always have a few tricks up their sleeves. After a disappointing season that left them with a 27-55 record, second-worst in the Western Conference, they’re now ready to retool with a wealth of options.
They’ve yet to figure out their head coaching position and how to use the $30 plus million available in cap space, not to mention what to do with their No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft. That’ll take some time to figure out; the Lakers haven’t drafted that high since selecting Hall of Fame forward James Worthy first overall in 1982. They’re a bit rusty to say the least.
It’s apparent that there’s a multitude of variables and options sitting at the Lakers doorstep. Although the league may not be their oyster anymore, they’re still flush with notoriety and remain to be one of the top player destinations in the league.
It seems that certain players are wallflowers all night, watching others dance until the dj throws their song into rotation and they’re in the center of the dance floor soaking up the limelight. So it goes for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. He’s been linked to the Lakers and a potential pairing of Kobe Bryant for some time, and it seems the tunes have began to play in the Lakers favor.
After the Cavaliers lost LeBron James to the Miami Heat with nothing in return, owner Dan Gilbert vowed that he’d trade a top player before allowing another star to leave again. First it was rumored that tensions ran high between Cavs guard Dion Waiters and Irving, and soon after ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that Irving wanted out of Cleveland – all of which Irving denied.
All of this leads to Cleveland reportedly refusing to offer Irving a maximum extension, and if there’s a talent in the league deserving of an extension, it’s the 21-year-old third year pro and former No.1 overall pick. In the event that he will not receive a maximum extension, he’ll most likely be moved before the NBA Draft. His trade value is worthy of a top pick at the least, and there are teams that will pull the trigger without hesitation.
The Lakers are one of those teams. They own the seventh pick, and are entertaining one of Kyrie’s former coaches and go-to mentors Byron Scott. Scott coached Irving during his first two NBA seasons in Cleveland. It’s been rumored that Scott will be the next head coach of the Lakers, and his ability to recruit Irving into a purple and gold jersey is of high interest to the Lakers.
In fact, the Lakers’ interest in luring Irving away from Cleveland is so high that it could be a deal maker or breaker for Scott. According to multiple sources Irving and Scott “still text on a regular basis, and the relationship is very good.” The chances of Scott’s hiring and Irving’s arrival are real and very high.
You might ask, why would teams who own a pick between two and six be interested in trading away their selection for Irving? It’s the same superstar trade scenario that we’ve seen in each of the last few seasons. It all depends on the receiving teams ability to resign the star player to a max deal. Irving is a New York Native, and neither the New York Knicks nor Brooklyn Nets have selections in the entire draft. That rules out a return home.
The Philadelphia 76ers (third pick) have Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic (fourth pick) have Victor Oladipo and are expected to select 6-foot-6 point guard Dante Exum. Utah Jazz (fifth pick) have thrived with Trey Burke and the Boston Celtics (sixth pick) have made it clear Rajon Rondo isn’t going anywhere. That leaves the Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks (second pick). Anyone who’s spent time in Milwaukee and Los Angeles will tell you LA has the upper hand there. The Bucks will either select Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins, depending on who the Cavs take first, which makes the Lakers seventh pick attractive for Cleveland, who can ideally replace Kryie Irving with Marcus Smart or another top guard.
Irving’s $7.5 million salary, and the Lakers vast amount of cap space makes it relatively easy to move him as well. Certainly the Cavaliers will want to receive talent in tandem with the seventh pick, which makes a sign and trade possible as well.
Irving has led the Cavaliers in scoring and assists in all of his three seasons. He was also named this year’s All-Star Game MVP and has often been referred to as the future top point guard in the NBA. In what seems to be the beginning of a farewell campaign for Kobe Bryant, adding Irving makes sense for the Lakers. They’ve always sought the big names. Adding Irving would give them the big name they hopelessly desire and the bigger talent they desperately need.