NBA Free Agency: The Latest on Lakers Pursuit by Kyrie Irving, Buddy HIeld

After gaining so much momentum last week, trade talks between the Lakers and Nets appear to have slowly slowed. As talk between the two teams continues, Kyrie Irving’s arrival in Lakerland doesn’t feel quite as imminent.

Now there’s a growing feeling that Brooklyn isn’t the only option for the Lakers to back out of Russell Westbrook’s contract.

Let’s take a look at the latest headlines and rumours.

backup plans

A big part of Kyrie Irving’s appeal to Laker fans is that he represents the best and at one point the only player available who would be a clear upgrade compared to Westbrook.

However, as the free hand played out, perhaps predictably, a few more options emerged, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski NBA today on Wednesday (about nets daily).

Then there’s the Lakers’ motivation. You have looked at other offers. They went on, I know, to check on Eric Gordon in Houston. This is certainly a player that interests them. Buddy Hield in Indiana…the Lakers are certainly looking at the market, but there’s no doubt Kyrie Irving is one of them.”

Wojnarowski’s report echoes that of Dave McMenamin, who mentioned the same names as potential Plan B options for the Lakers should a deal for Irving not materialize.

The names are two that fans will be familiar with and the team has long been associated with. They also represent realistic options as the Pacers have already offloaded Malcolm Brogdon and could soon do the same for Hield while the Rockets are several years into a rebuild.

However, discussing backup plans doesn’t mean the odds of landing Kyrie Irving are now nil.

Lakers-Nets are still having discussions

As much as the Lakers are looking at Plan B, Plan A remains Kyrie, and talks with the Nets remain open, as Wojnarowski also reported on Wednesday (again via nets daily).

“I think that’s another consideration that Brooklyn needs to make about whether moving Kyrie Irving either before Kevin Durant or after Kevin Durant is a positive or a negative. The market is certainly very different for Kevin Durant than it is for Kyrie Irving.”

“The Nets have spoken to the Lakers and I think there has been a back and forth, some communication. You’re looking at where there’s room for caps right now, and a team like San Antonio could now be an intermediary, say, a Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving deal between the teams. You have the cap space. Now you have to incentivize them at a pretty high level, and I think that’s the Lakers’ willingness to incite a deal with multiple draft picks. I think that’s one of the reasons the deal hasn’t gone through yet.”

“That can always change. Rob Pelinka and Sean Marks are in Vegas this week and moving on. I’m sure they’ll have talks there, but I think that’s part of the equation for Brooklyn, isn’t it… do they deal with the Kevin Durant deal first and then go back to it?

It seems things will be put on hold until Summer League, when teams and front office can hold in-person meetings that could result in more things getting done. But until then, it sounds like talks will largely be on hold unless there is an unexpected breakthrough.

Even then, the Lakers remain the favorites to land Irving, not just because they’re one of the few teams interested, but because Kyrie wants to be in Los Angeles long-term.

Kyrie wants LA

Perhaps the aspect of these negotiations that hasn’t been discussed enough is the fact that Kyrie wants to be in Los Angeles. Considering he’s an expiring contract, that will trickle down into any other team that trades for him and is almost certainly a reason why no other team has really emerged as a suitor.

Wojnarowski will report on Wednesday NBA today, McMenamin added that Irving had “sent out signals” that he was focused on getting to Southern California.

If Irving is focusing on Los Angeles, then giving up assets for a rental is enough. And when that player is Kyrie, there’s all sorts of “Nope!” from other teams.

For the Lakers, this is only intriguing because the situation with Westbrook is so bad. Nobody else has this type of situation that makes the Lakers the Nets the only potential trading partner willing to trade anything for them. That’s also why the Lakers’ statement that they may have backup plans carries some weight, while the Nets’ bluff carries little.

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