Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has been privately “adamant” that the Lakers still need to upgrade their roster by trading for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
“The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic,” Buha wrote.
James signed a contract extension with the Lakers on Wednesday, but he clearly wants to see the team get better prior to the start of the 2022-23 regular season.
So far, the Lakers have only made a few moves in free agency. Los Angeles has brought in big men Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant as well as wings Juan Toscano-Anderson and Lonnie Walker IV.
Irving would be by far the biggest acquisition of the Lakers’ offseason if they trade for him, but it would likely require the team moving Russell Westbrook’s massive salary. Los Angeles would also likely need to move a first-round pick in order to get a team to take on Westbrook for the 2022-23 season.
Last season, Irving averaged 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from beyond the arc in the 2021-22 campaign.
He and James go way back, as they won an NBA title together for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in the 2015-16 season. Irving would give the Lakers a proven scorer at the guard position that can stretch the floor much better than Westbrook.
The bright side for the Lakers is that James has already committed to Los Angeles without Irving on the roster.