LeBron James is still pushing the Lakers to help him reunite with his former co-star Kyrie Irving
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are running it back for at least two more years following Wednesday’s news that he and the team agreed on an extension worth $97.1 million.
The extension could just set him up to team up with his son, Bronny, upon his ascension to the pro level, but first, James is trying to orchestrate another joining of powers with another familiar face: Kyrie Irving.
Following the news of the extension, reports came that James is pushing the Lakers to trade for Irving, currently a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Jovan Buha, James has been quietly pushing the Lakers toward Irving.
LeBron James’ decision to re-sign with the #Lakers was not without complications.
Sources tell @jovanbuha James has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster – and need to trade for Kyrie Irving.https://t.co/cbGMumLZUS
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) August 18, 2022
LeBron is getting along with Lakers management, but pushing them to do more, including trading for Kyrie Irving
LeBron’s extension was taken by many as a signal that he’s pleased enough with Lakers management and confident in the ability to build a contender in Los Angeles. That’s no small vote of confidence given the team’s inability to make meaningful moves at the trade deadline last season to upgrade the roster, leading to a second-straight season of missing the postseason.
But clearly, LeBron expects the team to keep pushing despite the ink being dry on the paper. And his extension does little more for the franchise than give them clarity on the timeline that they need to make significant, title-oriented moves in before James could walk away and push them back to square one.
The clarity is that the window is small, and the time is now.
James and Irving previously played as teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers for three seasons, winning a title together in 2016 and gathering three consecutive Eastern Conference titles for the franchise.
The breakup was messy, with Irving forcing his way out of Cleveland, and ultimately being traded to the Celtics. Later, Irving would talk about the trade and apologize to James, indicating that he wanted to be a leader on a title team and not a second-in-command.
With James’s career ostensibly winding down at this point, Irving might finally get what he’s looking for as a leader on the court with James as his teammate. James will be the emotional leader of the locker room as long as he’s in LA, but has learned to defer when needed on the court over the last several seasons to conserve himself, especially in the regular season. Irving could fit into that nicely, as he’s still well in his prime.
A trade would be dramatic and shift the landscape in both conferences, something the Nets, his current team, are more than used to. Last year James Harden requested a trade and landed in Philly. This offseason, Kevin Durant requested (maybe demanded is a better word?) one, and it will likely lead to Irving as collateral movement as well.
The Lakers need to move Russell Westbrook’s albatross contract, a piece that could be involved in a hypothetical deal. Westbrook was the last star to be brought to LA, an experiment that went, well, not according to plan at all. Westbrook has rapidly declined over the last few seasons and is now tying the franchise’s hands until they move him.
Things have gone comically bad in Brooklyn with their ensemble of star talent that once looked poised to cake-walk to a title. On paper, it was great, in practice, not so much. Let’s see if LeBron can benefit from the implosion.