October 3, 2022

It’s funny how quickly things can change in the NBA. In the months following the end of the season, it was the Lakers who tried to create leverage to trade their former superstar point guard, but Kevin Durant’s trade request hours before the agency Free doesn’t turn the league upside down, and now it’s the Nets trying to manufacture leverage as they try to find their best deal for their point guard in Kyrie Irving.

Ironically, the Lakers appear to be the ones lined up to reap the benefits of it all. Let’s take a look at the latest reports and rumors regarding the standoff between the Nets and Kyrie’s Lakers.

The Nets are not interested in helping Kyrie

Probably rightly so, the Nets apparently would have no interest in helping Kyrie Irving find a suitable landing spot. In response to his threat last week to leave the franchise dry after a tumultuous season of which he missed three quarters, Brooklyn is no longer willing to play ball with Kyrie.

Not only are they unwilling to appease Irving, but they may not even have separate business ideas until a KD deal is struck, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (h/t Nets Daily ).

“The Nets don’t know why they’re trading Kevin Durant,” Windhorst said. “They might not want to do a trade with Kyrie Irving taking money. You can take a lot of money when you trade with Kevin Durant. You don’t know what your books will look like…

[T]The Nets have no interest in welcoming Kyrie Irving. They have no interest in doing so. If that happens, maybe a three-team or four-team trade to get the Nets happy with what they want. To get them maybe a start. Taking draft picks from Phoenix and redirecting them elsewhere … Kyrie could be thrown into this four-team trade just like salary ballast. He’s going to be used as a tool to help the Nets.

The Nets are wise to position themselves right now, the same way the Lakers swore they would return with Russ this season. Now, the idea that the Nets would need to bundle KD and Kyrie’s salaries together for a total of around $70 million to get a deal done seems a bit far-fetched, but not nearly as far-fetched as some other suggestions.

Stretch Kyrie?

One of the craziest ideas is that the Nets would consider stretching Kyrie instead of trading him. This is an idea reported by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports and one that honestly seems too absurd to be true.

It ended up being every man for himself, a true Battle Royale for releases, at various times for various reasons.

Harden was invested until he wasn’t, and I think the Nets saw the last Irving in their uniform – don’t be surprised if the Nets use the waiver and stretch provision to get rid of of Irving’s presence even though his scent will last for the next three years.

If you keep track at home, extending Kyrie’s remaining $36,934,550 deal would cost the Nets $12,311,516.70 in each of the next three seasons. That number is too large to open a significant amount of salary considering the Nets’ overall cap sheet.

As a member of #TeamPetty, giving up and stretching Kyrie would be a incredibly small gesture. Kyrie would still get the money, but he couldn’t sign for much in the free agent market this summer given the number of teams that used their cap space and the mid-level exceptions.

However, waiving and stretching Kyrie would prevent the Nets from gaining assets in exchange for him, even if they cannot extract his optimal market value in a trade. Really, Brooklyn only does this if they truly despise Kyrie and just want him out of their lives immediately to their own detriment. It’s funny, but it’s hard to believe.

What do the Lakers offer?

So it’s clear that the Nets don’t have a lot of leverage in a trade. This opens up the question of how much the Lakers should offer in a deal and what the framework should be, something discussed by Dan Woike and Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Time.

The Lakers, however, must weigh what they consider appropriate compensation for a player in the final year of a contract with reliability and durability issues. The team had previously been reluctant to add future first-round draft picks in Irving talks, and without much league-wide interest in Irving, it’s hard to know what his real value is and how urgently the Lakers need to act.

It’s also unclear if and how the Lakers could pursue a third team to help with the deal if Brooklyn prefers not to acquire Westbrook.

There are real questions about how much the Lakers should be willing to give up. Obviously, it will take some the compensation to trade Russ and Kyrie and the Nets will have to include something to offset the salary gap, but who’s included and what the total set of picks or players should be is up for debate.

In our latest Reacts survey, well over half of Lakers fans felt the team should attach picks to Russ to offload him in a trade.

This poll came ahead of the latest developments in Brooklyn, but it also shows just how eager LA fans are to leave Russ behind.

Kyrie is a talented player, but he has so much baggage that there is good reason to wonder how much the Lakers, apparently the only team interested, should trade to acquire him.

It’s a calculation the Lakers are making as they look to get closer to a deal. If they end up meeting Brooklyn’s demands, Kyrie’s arrival could lead to a brighter future on the pitch in Los Angeles.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed at itunes, Spotify, embroiderer Where Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.