After months of watching the Lakers try to create leverage from nothing with Russell Westbrook, it’s been an enjoyable viewing experience watching the Nets attempt a speed run of the same mission with Kyrie Irving in the days since Kevin Durant’s trade request.
A week of “will he or won’t he” before Kyrie opted into his deal set the tone for this saga and, rightfully, soured the Nets on their star point guard. The problem is, the rest of the league is soured on Kyrie as well, for obvious reasons. Only the Lakers with Russell Westbrook seem to view bringing in Kyrie as an upgrade, truly one of the biggest indictments on the Westbrook situation to date.
In Brooklyn’s attempt to gain any sort of leverage, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that along with the Lakers, the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks had interest in Kyrie.
— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) July 3, 2022
That would certainly impact the Lakers negotiations with the Nets if there were other suitors also interested in Irving, a situation that could theoretically lead to a bidding war between teams and drive up the asking price for Kyrie, all good things for the Nets given their situation.
That is… as long as those teams were actually interested. On that note, let’s check in on what other media members are saying about Philly’s level of desire to add Kyrie:
Source says the Sixers are not actively pursuing Kyrie Irving and that the likelihood of an Eric Gordon trade this summer is very low. On Gordon — difficult to make salaries match, talks with Houston didn’t evolve after draft.
— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) July 3, 2022
“Even had the 76ers on the phone, willing to give him a 3-year deal, but there was no way in hell he was interested in going to Philadelphia and rejoining James Harden or anything like that, so that was a smokescreen”
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) June 30, 2022
Not sure what’s been reported elsewhere this morning, but I can report definitively that the Sixers are not and have not been engaged in trade talks for Kyrie this offseason.
There’s no appetite for him in Philly.
The Lakers are the Nets only current suitor.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) July 3, 2022
Oh. All right then.
So as truly hilarious as it would be to pair of James Harden and Kyrie once again, it appears the Sixers do have at least some level of self-awareness and aren’t looking to reunite the lesser talented two-thirds of the Big Three that just blew up in Brooklyn.
I say some level of self-awareness because the lack of interest in Kyrie might be simply because he is not a former Houston Rocket, which appears to be how Daryl Morey is determining which free agents to sign this offseason.
Well, even if the Sixers are out of the running, there could still be something to be gained from the Mavs being in the negotiations. They just lost Jalen Brunson to New York and have an opening for a ballhandler alongside Luka Doncic, so surely they’d be into the idea of adding Kyrie, right?
I’m really surprised the Mavericks, with a young ball-dominant superstar like Doncic who they are building the franchise around, don’t have interest in adding a divisive, enigmatic player like Kyrie. It really seemed like a perfect match.
But if the Sixers are out and the Mavs are out, then… huh. Guess that just leaves the Lakers again.
It was a valiant effort by the Nets to completely manufacture leverage, or by Kyrie to expedite the Lakers’ efforts to help him exit yet another team that imploded around him. Unfortunately, Dallas and Philly were not in on the bit, and their vehement denial of interest in Kyrie leaves the Nets and their All-Star no better off.
Where does that leave the Lakers and Nets? Well, they’ve reportedly discussed a deal with one of the hang-ups being the inclusion of Joe Harris or Seth Curry. Brooklyn’s attempt to gain leverage in the trade hasn’t worked, which makes it pretty clear it’s the Lakers or bust for Kyrie. If the Nets are serious about moving on from Kyrie, they appear to have only one way of doing so, which is good news for the Lakers as they look to upgrade their point guard situation without giving up much of value.
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