So after all that, Kyrie Irving just may become a Laker after all?
Irving was tied to the Purple and Gold last summer, around this past trade deadline before being traded to the Mavericks, and apparently still may wind up there, according to ESPN NBA Reporter Brian Windhorst.
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“I could just see Kyrie [Irving] ready to come, and the feel on like, ‘Look, we just got to the conference finals, imagine if we replace [D’Angelo] Russell with Kyrie?’” Windhorst said on his ESPN Podcast, The Hoop Collective, following the Lakers falling behind 3-0 to the Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.
“The Lakers have fallen for this before. The way this is ending, I think it’s increasing the chances of it happening,” he added.
The aforementioned Russell has struggled mightily this series, and has an expiring contract, potentially opening the door for a fellow free agent in Irving.
Russell has scored a combined 21 points in three games against the Nuggets, shooting under 30 per cent from the field and just 14 per cent from three.
On the show, Windhorst also noted the difficulties in potentially getting Irving to the Lakers given their pending salary cap restrictions.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis combine for more than $82 million dollars in salary this season, which will increase to about $94 million next year, and the Lakers will also try to keep restricted free agent Austin Reaves.
“It would take a little bit of manoeuvring, and Kyrie would probably have to not take the max, or [the Lakers] would have to work on something with Dallas, but they can get there,” Windhorst noted. “They can keep [Austin] Reeves and get Kyrie.” The Lakers will have Davis ($53.4 million) and James ($40.6 million) signed for next season and are, along with Max Christie ($1.7 million), the only Lakers who have fully guaranteed salaries for next season, according to Spotrac.
James and Irving, of course, were teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-2017, reaching three NBA Finals, and winning a championship in 2016. In 60 games this season, Irving — who played 40 with the Nets and 20 with the Mavericks — averaged 27.1 points, 5.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 49 per cent from the field and 38 per cent from 3-point range.
Irving, who was selected to his eighth All-Star Game, was traded to the Mass prior to February’s trade deadline.
The Mavericks did not make the playoffs.
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LEAGUE-WIDE ‘APPETITE’ FOR SUPERSTAR TO LAND $200M+ DEAL
Despite a limp effort in the latter stages of the postseason, James Harden is still expected to rake in a mega contract.
Harden, who showed glimpses of his superstar quality during the Philadelphia 76ers’ Eastern Conference semi-finals loss to the Boston Celtics, failed to deliver when his team needed it most.
The star guard scored a combined 22 points from seven-of-27 in field goals across Game 6 and 7 when the Sixers had a chance to close out the series, but the Celtics stormed home and won both to continue their postseason journey.
However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst doesn’t believe the playoff slump will prevent Harden from making bank when it comes to free agency.
Windhorst claims there is “an appetite” around the league for the 33-year-old to land a four-year deal worth over $200 million.
Harden currently has a player option for a $35.6 million deal with the Sixers but recent reports hint he is likely to opt out of it to chase bigger deals.
Philadelphia is keen to bring him back, but the Houston Rockets, Harden’s former employers, have been touted as a potential landing spot for the star.
The Sixers are only able to offer Harden a maximum of $210 million over four years due to the league’s rules when it comes to players aged 38 and older.
With that rule in place, it could lead Harden to strongly consider proposals from other teams given he could make more.