With the perpetual link between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, the media has swarmed the idea of Irving leaving Dallas high and dry this off-season to reunite with his old running mate in Los Angeles.
Kyrie Irving to the Lakers has been the talk of the town dating back to when Irving initially requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.
This, of course, was further ignited by LeBron’s evident promotion of the front office to trade for Irving at the deadline.
Most recently, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Irving has reached out to James to gauge his interest in joining the Dallas Mavericks.
“Kyrie Irving has reached out to Lakers star LeBron James in attempts to see if James would come to Dallas. Irving is a free agent this offseason,” Charania reported.
With all of the talks and rumors of Irving finding his way to the Lakers, Irving is now lobbying and recruiting on behalf of the Mavericks. The positive takeaway from this report is that Dallas has the potential to add talent to the roster, whether that incorporates LeBron or not.
With Irving approaching free agency, he is eligible for a five-year $272.9 million max contract with the Mavericks. While it makes sense for Irving to re-sign with Dallas, both for monetary and ‘basketball fit’ purposes, there is never enough confidence until an official agreement comes to terms. Irving’s recruitment of other players brings additional optimism, indicating his desire to remain a Dallas Maverick moving forward.
How would LeBron James find his way on the Dallas Mavericks?
The first obstacle would be his salary.
James’ current contract extends through the 2024-25 season, which includes a $50.6 million player option in the final season. To clear cap space for this upcoming season, you’d likely have to move a combination of contracts such as Hardaway, Bertans, McGee, Bullock, or Kleber.
On top of clearing cap space, the trade would still have to make sense from the Lakers’ perspective. Sure, if LeBron demanded out and the Lakers lose leverage, this becomes somewhat less complicated. However, even pennies on the dollar would still necessitate favorable pieces in return for the Lakers (maybe draft capital or young talent).
There are a few additional scenarios that could unfold for the Mavericks. Irving could take a lesser contract to help free up the ability for Dallas to take on a contract as hefty as Lebron’s. In different and much less likely circumstances, a contract buyout from the Lakers would make things much easier for Dallas to fit in a low-cost contract for James.
Right now, LeBron has such an influence on the league that he can almost move chess pieces any way he wants.
It boils down to how badly he might want to reunite with Irving and his willingness to move on from the Laker chapter of his career.
One thing is for sure: Kyrie Irving staying put in Dallas (with or out LeBron) turns the Mavericks into a destination.