With the Boston Celtics eliminated from the playoffs, all eyes have shifted to a critical offseason decision Kyrie Irving will soon make.
Irving, 27, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and there is no doubt that his plans can change the future of several franchises around the league. It’s entirely possible that he returns to the Celtics, which would make the team potential front-runners to land Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans as well.
The point guard could also bolt within the Eastern Conference, which would make possible destinations like the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets quick contenders next season.
If he switches conferences, one of the leading options could be joining his former teammate LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Brian Windhorst, who has extensively covered both of these players, this has recently become more likely than ever (via ESPN):
“As time passes here, I would’ve said that this is impossible for many months. But as time passes here and as the possibility exists that Jason Kidd could be hired as the Lakers coach, I think the possibility of Kyrie and LeBron reuniting — that door, which was deadbolted, has been un-deadbolted and has now been cracked open … It might even be opening more by the day. And I say that just because I think it’s on Kyrie’s radar, it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers.”
The latest projections have the Lakers with +750 odds of landing Irving this offseason. That is an implied probability of just 11.8 percent, though this was posted two days ago and Windhorst notes that things are rapidly changing.
Los Angeles will have the cap space to make a splashy move in free agency, though it is unclear which players might be interested in joining their team as there has been so much uncertainty within the franchise.
The top options for the Lakers would likely be Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard or Golden State’s Klay Thompson — though neither player has reportedly had much interest in joining James.
While other players like Jimmy Butler and DeMarcus Cousins could be an intriguing fit, Irving is the only option who has already experienced success playing alongside LeBron (considering they won a title together on the Cleveland Cavaliers).
If this becomes more of a story, the next question would be what to do with starting point guard Lonzo Ball. Before his injury, he was showing marked improvements but his trade value is middling.