Latest On Kyrie Irving, Lakers

Echoing an Adrian Wojnarowski report from earlier this week, Marc Stein confirms in his latest Substack article that the Lakers have assured LeBron James they’re willing to give up their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in a trade that can help make the team a legitimate contender again.

Because they traded their 2024 first-round pick to New Orleans and gave the Pelicans the option to defer that pick to 2025, the Lakers are ineligible to trade a first-rounder earlier than 2027 due to the Stepien rule, which prohibits teams from leaving themselves without a first-round pick in consecutive future drafts.

However, L.A. could move its 2027 and 2029 picks without violating that rule, and Stein is the second reporter this week to suggest the club would be willing to surrender both those first-rounders in a trade for Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The seven-time All-Star is believed to be at or near the top of James’ wish list, with one report indicating that LeBron was “privately adamant” prior to signing his extension about wanting the Lakers to trade for his former teammate.

Crucially, Stein notes that it’s unclear whether or not the Lakers would insist on protecting those two first-round picks — that’s an important factor, since obviously a pair of lottery-protected first-rounders wouldn’t be nearly as valuable as two unprotected selections.

In any case, the Nets have thus far “steadfastly rejected” the concept of an Irving/Russell Westbrook swap that involves them acquire those two Lakers’ first-rounders, according to Stein, who says that Brooklyn apparently remains focused on acquiring win-now assets in any Kyrie trade.

While it’s possible that position eventually changes, especially if the Nets end up moving Kevin Durant, it appears for now that any trade sending Irving to L.A. would require a third team to take Westbrook and those draft picks and send win-now pieces to Brooklyn, Stein writes.

The Nets’ aversion to a Westbrook/Irving deal may also be linked to their desire to simply keep their current roster intact, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested during an appearance on Get Up on Thursday (video link). Even though Kyrie seriously explored finding a new home before exercising his player option and Durant has demanded a trade, Brooklyn hasn’t shown any urgency to break up its core.

“I think Kyrie is invested in being a Brooklyn Net next year,” Windhorst said. “Obviously there was some turmoil with his contract extension not happening. He realizes his best path going forward to get the contract he wants in Brooklyn or elsewhere is to have a very good season. From what I can gather, it appears that he and the Nets are looking forward to meeting up in training camp.

“Now, whether Kevin Durant is there and his level of buy-in, that’s the big question,” Windhorst continued. “But right now, I think the Nets want to run this team back, and they’re hoping that Kevin Durant agrees. The way that they’re conducting trade talks and the prices that they are asking has teams out there thinking they don’t really want to trade Kevin Durant anyway, they want to bring this team back. We’ll see if Durant goes along with that, come training camp.”

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