NBA free agency: Nets seek leverage in Kyrie Irving and Lakers trade


It’s funny how quickly things can change in the NBA. In the months after the end of the season, the Lakers were the ones trying to build leverage to trade their former superstar point guard, but Kevin Durant’s trade request hours before free agency turned the league upside down, and now it’s the Nets who are trying to build leverage as they try to find their best deal for their point guard in Kyrie Irving.

Ironically, the Lakers seem to be the ones lining up to reap the benefits of all of this. Let’s take a look at the latest reports and rumors regarding the matchup between Kyrie’s Nets and Lakers.

Nets not interested in helping Kyrie

Probably rightly so, according to reports, the Nets have no interest in helping Kyrie Irving find a suitable landing spot. In response to his threat last week to leave the franchise cold after a tumultuous season in which he was out three-quarters, Brooklyn is no longer willing to play Kyrie.


Not only are they unwilling to placate Irving, they may not even consider separate trade ideas until a deal is done with KD, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (h/t Nets Daily).

“The Nets don’t know why they’re trading Kevin Durant,” Windhorst said. “They may not want to make a trade with Kyrie Irving that makes money. He can get a lot of money when he trades for Kevin Durant. You don’t know how your books will turn out…

[T]The Nets have no interest in accommodating Kyrie Irving. They have no interest in doing so. If it comes up, maybe a three-team trade or a four-team trade so the Nets are satisfied with what they want. To get them maybe a start. To take draft picks from Phoenix and redirect them elsewhere … Kyrie could be thrown into that four-team trade just as a salary drag. He will be used as a tool to help the Nets.”

The Nets are wise to take a stance at this point, similar to the way the Lakers swore they’d get Russ back this season. Now, the idea that the Nets would need to add KD and Kyrie’s salaries totaling around $70 million to complete a deal feels a bit far-fetched, but not as far-fetched as other suggestions.

Kyrie stretch?

One of the craziest ideas out there is that the Nets would consider stretching Kyrie instead of trading him. It is an idea reported by Vincent Goodwill of yahoo sports and one that honestly seems too absurd to be true.

It ended up being save yourself, a real Battle Royale for the exits, at various times for various reasons.

Harden was involved until he wasn’t, and it’s best to believe the Nets have seen the last of Irving in his uniform; Don’t be surprised if the Nets use the waiver-and-stretch provision to get rid of Irving’s presence even if the scent of him will linger for the next three years.

If you’re tracking at home, stretching out Kyrie’s remaining $36,934,550 expiring contract would cost the Nets $12,311,516.70 in each of the next three seasons. That number is too large to open up a significant amount of salary given the Nets’ overall salary cap.

As a member of #TeamPetty, giving up and stretching Kyrie would be a incredibly small move Kyrie would still be paid the money, but he wouldn’t be able to sign for anything on the free-agent market this summer because of the number of teams that have exhausted his cap space and mid-level exceptions.

However, giving up and stretching Kyrie would prevent the Nets from getting assets for him, even if they can’t extract his optimal market value in a trade. In reality, Brooklyn only does this if they truly despise Kyrie and just want him out of their lives right away to their own detriment. It’s funny, but it’s hard to believe.

What do the Lakers offer?

Clearly, then, the Nets don’t have much leverage in a trade. That opens the question of how much the Lakers should offer in a deal and what the framework should be, something discussed by Dan Woike and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

However, the Lakers must weigh what they consider adequate compensation for a player in the final year of a contract with reliability and durability issues. The team has previously refused to add future first-round picks in discussions of Irving, and without much league-wide interest in Irving, it’s hard to know what his real value is and how urgently the Lakers need to act.

It’s also unknown if and how the Lakers might look for a third team to help with the deal should Brooklyn choose not to acquire Westbrook.

There are real questions about how much the Lakers should be willing to give up. Obviously, it will require some the compensation to trade Russ and Kyrie and the Nets will have to include something to make up the salary gap, but who is included and what the total package of picks or players should be is a real topic of debate.

In our latest Reacts poll, more than half of Lakers fans felt the team should attach picks to Russ to get rid of him in a trade.

That poll came before the latest events in Brooklyn, but it also shows how eager Los Angeles fans are to put Russ behind them.

Kyrie is a talented player, but he comes with so much baggage that there are genuine reasons to question how much the Lakers, seemingly the only team interested, should trade to acquire him.

It’s a calculation the Lakers are in the process of making as they look to move ever closer to a deal. If they end up meeting Brooklyn’s demands, signing Kyrie could lead to a brighter future on the Los Angeles court.

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