The Los Angeles Lakers can sign a max player in free agency now, and they are ready to pursue Kyrie Irving.
The Los Angeles Lakers made a move to clear cap space on Thursday, sending multiple players to the Washington Wizards to expand the Anthony Davis trade. Now that they have the ability to offer a max contract in free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported the Lakers will target Kyrie Irving as much as Kawhi Leonard when free agency launches.
Davis will also waive his $4 million trade kicker to fully open up the space for the Lakers to add a third star. They could spread that money around and add multiple pieces around the LeBron James-Davis duo, but that idea appears to be on the back burner right now.
Irving notably wanted to get away from James when the two were together in Cleveland, and essentially forced a trade that ultimately landed him with the Boston Celtics. But that one-sided animosity appears to have gone away, as Irving apparently communicated with James during this past season and multiple reports since have pointed to the Lakers as a potential suitor.
The Brooklyn Nets remain as the perceived favorite to sign Irving. But, per Stein, that is not stopping the Lakers from “swinging for the fences.”
Beyond Irving, the Lakers have prominent rumored interest in Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and D’Angelo Russell. Jimmy Butler has interest in being the Lakers’ third star, and that interest may be mutual.
The Lakers simply have to surround James with the right pieces going forward. Irving has proven he can perform as that secondary star, allowing James to defer at times while creating for himself as well as others. Irving has also come through in some big moments alongside James, which has to be a factor in Los Angeles’ interest as well as any influence James has regarding a possible reunion.