Stein’s Latest: Irving, Heat, Brunson, Tucker, Collins

Kyrie Irving has reportedly talked to LeBron James about a reunion in L.A., but it’s “a stretch” to say the Lakers are currently trying to acquire Irving, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. There’s increased speculation this week that Irving and the Nets may not be able to work out a new contract, and the Lakers are believed to be one of his potential landing spots if he does leave Brooklyn.

However, Stein is skeptical of their chances considering their current financial situation. If Irving opts in to his $36.9MM salary for next season, the Lakers don’t have the necessary trade assets to pry him away from the Nets, Stein states. And if he opts out, L.A. can’t offer more than the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected at $6.39MM.

Stein expects Irving to remain in Brooklyn, saying it’s unlikely he’ll pass on such a lucrative player option. Stein also cites a leaguewide expectation that the Nets will work out at least a short-term deal with Irving to avoid causing any friction with Kevin Durant.

Stein shares information on a few more topics:

  • The Heat could be a team to watch if the Nets decide to trade Irving. Although Irving doesn’t seem like a natural fit for “Heat culture,” Stein notes that Miami is always willing to pursue stars when they hit the market.
  • League sources tell Stein that the Knicks would be a legitimate threat to sign Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson if they can clear enough cap space to make a max offer. The Brunson family’s connections to team president Leon Rose and the team’s recent hiring of Rick Brunson, Jalen’s father, as an assistant coach give New York an advantage. However, Stein notes that the Knicks’ efforts to unload salary suffered a setback with Alec Burks‘ offseason foot surgery.
  • The Sixers are considered “by far the favorite” to sign Heat forward P.J. Tucker if he decides to leave Miami. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who signed Tucker in Houston, is reportedly willing to offer a three-year, $30MM contract.
  • A deal with the Kings involving Harrison Barnes is among the Hawks‘ “prime options” as they try to work out a John Collins trade, Stein tweets.
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