The Lakers and Nets are exploring the possibility of getting the Spurs involved in a multi-team trade that would feature Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
Los Angeles and Brooklyn don’t appear to be on the verge of finalizing any deal involving Westbrook and Irving, with their discussions to date being characterized as “preliminary.” Irving reportedly wants to play for the Lakers, but the Nets don’t seem to have much interest in taking back Westbrook’s pricier expiring contract, even with draft assets attached, leading to speculation that a third team will have to be included.
The Spurs are the obvious choice to be that third team because they have about $30-35MM in projected cap room remaining. That doesn’t give them enough space to absorb Westbrook’s $47MM salary outright, but they could potentially get there by sending out Doug McDermott ($13.75MM) or Josh Richardson ($12.2MM), as Pincus observes.
In a scenario where Irving heads to L.A. and Westbrook goes to San Antonio, any sweeteners (ie. future draft picks) the Lakers would have sent to Brooklyn would presumably be re-routed to the Spurs as an incentive for taking on Westbrook’s unwanted contract.
While the structure of such a deal makes some sense, three-team deals are never easy to negotiate and this one would be especially complicated.
The Nets may want to resolve Kevin Durant‘s trade request before making a move with Irving, and don’t appear eager to rush into a deal involving either player.
The Lakers look like Irving’s only legitimate suitor for the time being, so they don’t want to overpay for him, especially since he’s on an expiring contract of his own. But they could feel some pressure to make a move if star forward LeBron James, who becomes extension-eligible next month, is pushing for it.
The Spurs, meanwhile, will probably have other opportunities to use their cap room to acquire draft assets from teams looking to shed salary, so they’ll have to consider all their options.
Appearing today on ESPN’s Get Up (video link), Brian Windhorst said he believes a deal sending Irving to the Lakers will “eventually” get done, but said it’s probably going to be “a fight along the way.”