Kyrie Irving shocked the NBA world on Friday after his request for a trade became public knowledge. There have been multiple reports about the desire to move on from the Cleveland Cavaliers, including speculation that the point guard wants to lead his own team and no longer wants to play with LeBron James.
However, there may be a juicier reason for Irving’s sudden desire to depart from Cleveland. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 2016 NBA Champion is uninterested in being part of a Cavaliers team built around James if the star forward leaves in free agency next summer.
More interesting for Lakers fans is that James’ departure may be imminent and that the Lakers could be involved:
“In registering his preference to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could well be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.
“With James refusing to commit to Cleveland beyond the coming season, with the growing verdict that James is intrigued with pursuing a Los Angeles Lakers exit plan, Irving has become proactive in controlling his own career arc.”
“The Cavaliers’ championship season liberated James to leave Cleveland in free agency, if he so chooses. He can declare his job done and chase a closing act in Hollywood. Things change, though. Who knows how it all turns out? For one, Irving does not — and that leaves his future in professional peril.”
James, objectively one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball, will be a free agent in 2018. After a disappointing loss to the Warriors in the Finals this year, after a rocky offseason in the summer that saw GM David Griffin (someone LeBron vouched for) being effectively fired, the whispers of LeBron looking for a new home away from Cleveland are becoming louder.
The Lakers have been a rumored destination from the start and the team has shifted its focus on luring James and other superstar free agents next year, attempting to maximize their cap space for such signings.
We are still a long way from that time but it’s becoming clearer that James and the Lakers will be linked in reports for the next year.