The Los Angeles Lakers And the Brooklyn Networks They are currently involved in some of the most successful, unconventional business negotiations in NBA history. Both sides have a big name point guard that no one else seems to want. The Lakers are trying to trade off Russell Westbrook, who owes $47 million and is coming off his worst season as a professional. The Nets want to transfer Kyrie Irving, who just missed the bulk of the 2021-22 season due to his refusal to comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate. No other trading partner is clearly visible to either party, and this has greatly complicated the negotiations.
According to Mark Stein, the Nets want to make up the Lakers’ first round in order to make the trade-off, but perhaps more importantly, they focus on resolving Kevin Durant’s situation before they turn their attention to Irving. Durant is also seeking a business deal, but with four years left on his deal, the Nets have the ability to take their time. As much as they might want to move from Irving, doing so before they move to Durant will make it nearly impossible for them to compete for a title should they end up retaining the Player of the Year in 2014.
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The Lakers have two tradable first-round options: one in 2027 and one in 2029. The Lakers have been resistant to including them in trade negotiations, but a player of Irving’s caliber might be an exception. Speaking of hesitation, the Nets would prefer not to take Westbrook back in a potential deal due to his exorbitant number. The $11 million salary gap between the two points would cost Brooklyn more than $50 million with welfare taxes in mind before considering the financial implications of Durant’s potential trade. The San Antonio Spurswith more than $30 million in cover space, was mentioned as a potential third team to face Westbrook so the Nets don’t have to.
The Lakers reportedly discussed deals with Indiana Pacers (for Buddy Hield) and Houston Rockets (For Eric Gordon) to add the shot, but both players have much lower cap numbers than Westbrook. Indiana State could fill that gap by including center Miles Turner, which the Lakers have long wanted, but according to Stein, they likely won’t have the assets to land both Turners. And the Memorizes. Several reports have indicated that LeBron James desperately wants Irving to join him in Los Angeles.
But until Durant’s situation is resolved, the networks will have no reason to rush. If a Durant deal comes through, the Lakers should be able to do Irving’s deal just because the Nets would have no reason to keep him. But for now, the ball is in Brooklyn’s court.