Michael Angelo B. Asis

Lakers’ next move after Kyrie

KYRIE Irving was their ray of hope. A player who has played with LeBron James. While it did not end well with the Cleveland Cavaliers, they did win a title together. Also, Kyrie is friends with Anthony Davis, and even advocated strongly that the Boston Celtics trade for him in his short tenure with them.

Trading Westbrook for Kyrie would be a risk, but what do the Lakers have to lose? This was never a team built on draft picks. Kyrie’s volatility also fits with LeBron James’ timeline. It’s a rapidly diminishing window, and it would be best for LeBron to go all in for two seasons, rather than spread out over an extended run.

Laker hate strikes again?

The Lakers have become the players’ favorite trade destination, and suddenly became public enemy no.1 for the owners of the other teams. It was alleged that Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai made it a point not to send Kyrie to his preferred destination, which was allegedly the Lakers.

If that holds true, this would not be the first time. The Indiana Pacers admitted sending Paul George to the OKC Thunder instead of his hometown of Los Angeles even if the Lakers seemingly had a superior offer. To be fair, the Mavericks package was more useful for the Nets in the short term.

The Nets will have two useful players, and Spencer Dinwiddie plays Kyrie’s position, not to mention that he used to play with the Nets and average in double figures. He only left to get a better contract, but the separation was amicable.

This is the reality of trades in the NBA: No matter how much player empowerment you hold, the teams still make the final decision. The Anthony Davis case was more of an exception than a precedent. In that trade, no other teams would offer much to Davis since it was clearly established he wants to join LeBron.

Kyrie did not air that out in public, and other offers from the LA Clippers and Phoenix Suns were on the table. AD somehow held the Pelicans hostage, but the Lakers still needed to please the New Orleans Pelicans with a king’s ransom, and that paid off with a title.

What’s next for the Lakers?

Not all the other 29 teams have intense Laker hate. One team has been their consistent trade partner. In local parlance, their “suki.” These are the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards have a “give-and-take” relationship with the Lakers. The Lakers took on Russell Westbrook, and that was a mistake, but since then, they traded again for Rui Hachimura, which was a bargain for the Lakers and salary relief for the Wizards.

The Wizards have a disgruntled star in Bradley Beal, while they also have a rising star in Kyle Kuzma. Washington is not quite tanking, but also out of the playoff race. If they decide on a full rebuild, they would need to shed Bradley Beal’s contract.

Taking Westbrook back for Beal gives the Wizards cap relief three years earlier. They were not sure about Hachimura, and they don’t really have a decent piece alongside Beal aside from Kuzma.

Another shot at Kyrie?

Kyrie will actually be a free agent, and this was an added risk to teams that want to trade for him. For the Dallas Mavericks, they could lose him after the season, and Irving just signs with the Lakers again. That could really hurt.

The prize here is Irving’s Bird rights. The Mavericks have the ability to re-sign Kyrie to a long-term contract without using salary cap space. For the Lakers to do that, they have to renounce Hachimura, and would be limited in their options for re-signing Thomas Bryant or Austin Reaves.

There is always a risk with Kyrie, but the talent is undeniable. The best description for Kyrie is that she’s like “Billie Jean” in the Michael Jackson song. She has trouble written all over her, but you can’t help but look because she’s attractive. Same with Kyrie — teams can’t help but get interested despite all the possible risks. You’ll need a title to justify that move.

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