Lakers Have Nothing to Worry About with LeBron James amid Latest NBA Trade Rumors

Lakers Have Nothing to Worry About with LeBron James amid Latest NBA Trade Rumors

Lakers Have Nothing to Worry About with LeBron James amid Latest NBA Trade Rumors

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 22: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets on May 22, 2023 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

    The fact that we’re still talking about a possible reunion between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving isn’t surprising.

    The new spin on the potential partnership is nothing short of a stunner, though.

    While there’s been so much said about James perhaps luring Irving to the Los Angeles Lakers, the latest NBA trade buzz involves Irving trying to bring James to the Lone Star State. Per B/R’s Chris Haynes, Irving “wants the Dallas Mavericks to explore trading for LeBron James this offseason.”

    It’s a fascinating scenario in theory, as a Big Three featuring James, Irving and Luka Dončić could absolutely rule the Association. Fortunately for Lakers fans, though, it’s nothing more than that: a fun thought exercise with no real substance.

    While it’s technically possible for Dallas to get James—either in a trade or after a buyout—the reality lands somewhere between improbable and nonsensical.

The Mavs Don’t Have the Means to Acquire James

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Kyrie Irving #2 and Josh Green #8 of the Dallas Mavericks talk on during the game against the Sacramento Kings on February 10, 2023 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

    One of the most fun parts of speculating about a superstar trade is trying to decipher what that player is actually worth on the trade market.

    While we can’t say for certain what James would fetch in a blockbuster deal, we’re confident in saying it’s way more than the Mavericks have to offer.

    Dallas’ best trade chip—taking Dončić off the table, of course—is probably the No. 10 pick in this summer’s draft or a future first-rounder. Those aren’t needle-moving assets when you’re talking about landing a player who just averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.8 assists during his age-38 season.

    Again, though, that’s the best the Mavs can do. They’d flesh out the package from there, but Josh Green and Jaden Hardy aren’t swaying the Lakers. Salary-fillers like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dāvis Bertāns just decrease the package’s appeal.

    Theoretically, James could force a buyout and try getting to Dallas that way, but it’s impractical. He would presumably have to give back a ton of the two-year, $97.1 million extension he signed last year, then take a paycut to join the Mavericks. Irving would also have to sign for far less than he’s able to make this work.

Does LeBron Even Want to Leave?

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 22: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a foul during the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets in game four of the Western Conference Finals at Crypto.com Arena on May 22, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    Harry How/Getty Images

    James leaving Hollywood—to head to Dallas or anywhere else—would only happen if he forces the issue. The Lakers clearly have no reason to shop him around.

    Where’s any evidence saying that’s what he wants? You can spend days scouring the web without finding it.

    Perhaps some would construe his contemplation of retirement as such, but there’s a big difference between being done with basketball entirely and playing it somewhere else. Given the timing of his comments—right on the heels of the Lakers’ sweep by the Denver Nuggets—it’s possible they were merely a combination of frustration and exhaustion.

    Still, nothing about that suggests he has beef with the Lakers or his hoops home for the past five seasons. He handpicked Hollywood in 2018 free agency. He selected Anthony Davis as his preferred partner, and the franchise brought him onboard. The Lakers immediately built a title team around the two, and they formed a formidable enough supporting cast this past season for the club to reach the conference finals.

    Why would James want to abandon something he helped build?

The Simplest Path to a LeBron-Kyrie Reunion Remains in L.A.

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    LOS ANGELES, CA -MARCH 17: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Kyrie Irving #2 of the Dallas Mavericks after the game against the Dallas Mavericks on March 17, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    As unrealistic as the James-to-Dallas talks appear, the fact they made it to the rumor mill is the latest evidence that James and Irving share a desire to play together again.

    While the likeliest scenario for next season is that they won’t, their mutual interest is still notable. Stars can pull a lot of strings in this league, after all, and these are two of the brightest in the NBA galaxy.

    If they manage to team up, though, it’s still far more likely to happen in L.A. The Lakers can create enough cap space ($30 million to $35 million) to put a massive offer in front of Irving. If that’s enough, they could potentially work out a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks that gets Irving a max salary.

    Again, though, this probably isn’t happening. The Mavericks want to re-sign Irving and aren’t interested in a sign-and-trade that would route D’Angelo Russell to Dallas, per Marc Stein. The Lakers, meanwhile, are reportedly uninterested in pursuing Irving this summer, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

    So, as fun as a James-Irving reunion might sound, it almost certainly isn’t coming to fruition.

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