Right now, the NBA off-season seems to be coming to a halt, presumably because everyone is waiting for the Brooklyn Nets to take the next step.
Kevin Durant reportedly wants to leave, and so does Kyrie Irving. The Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been engaging in serious trade talks about Irving, but nothing has happened on that front, at least not yet.
After the Russell Westbrook experience last season resulted in what most people would consider failure, the Lakers have a chance. Not only can they take over Irving, who is a borderline superstar and can handle many of their problems, but they can also undo the Westbrook trade, which many people believe was a huge mistake.
Opportunities like these come to those who are good or lucky, but they are not always absolute. Small concessions often have to be made.
Reportedly, the delay in a potential Irving trade could be that the Nets want LA to take back sharpshooting wing Joe Harris to bring salaries in line with league rules. LA would rather not, citing the fact that he still has two years left on his contract at over $18 million per season.
If the Nets don’t want to meet this requirement, the Lakers will have to meet them at least halfway through and strike a deal.
The Lakers have little or no influence
Some believe the Nets are desperate because both of their main stars want out and they don’t want either of them on the roster when training camp starts, to prevent bad vibes from spreading through the team.
However, the Lakers themselves are just as desperate.
If the Lakers are asking too much in an Irving trade, and the Nets say no, would it be the worst decision in the world for the Nets to keep Irving for now?
Rumor has it that Durant could go to the Phoenix Suns, or possibly the Toronto Raptors, in a multi-team trade that would land three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell in Brooklyn.
That would give Brooklyn a roster that could reach the play-in tournament at worst, even if Irving pouted and refused to play until moved.
In that case, conventional wisdom suggests that the offers for Irving would get worse over time, and that the Nets would eventually have to give in and accept something for him or he would leave next summer for nothing.
But the other side suggests that another team can court Irving through loopholes, craft an offer the Nets like and get Irving to sign a long-term extension after a transaction fails.
That’s the gamble the Lakers would make if they don’t want to make reasonable compromises this summer.
Aside from Irving, LA really has few if any options when it comes to trading Westbrook at any given value.
There’s always a chance the Charlotte Hornets will bite, but now that Miles Bridges, who was about to sign a new contract, is being accused of domestic violence, they may be less willing to part with players like Terry Rozier or Gordon Hayward .
It could very well be Irving of bust for the Lakers right now, and if the Lakers don’t play their hand right, they could be left empty handed in a year’s time when LeBron James is a free agent.