Even though 2019 NBA free agency has yet to begin, it feels like everything is already in full swing heading into June 30.
The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the first big move by trading for Anthony Davis and rumors about where any number of All-Star players will wind up have been floating around everywhere now. One move that seemed like a lock was Kyrie Irving heading to the Brooklyn Nets.
Though Irving reportedly is expected to meet with Boston Celtics, the prevailing belief is that his time with them is done. He has long been rumored to want to play in New York for either the Nets or Knicks and his recent agent change to Roc Nation Sports only furthered these reports.
However, there may be some concerns from the Nets side. According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Nets are reportedly questioning signing Irving if he isn’t bringing Kevin Durant with him:
The Post has confirmed Brooklyn might have qualms about signing the enigmatic Irving if he isn’t bringing the injured Durant with him.
Irving and Durant have long been linked to wanting to play together though originally the Knicks were the favorite to land them. Durant’s torn Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals has thrown a wrench into everyone’s plans. Some believe Durant could opt-in to the final year of his deal and remain with the Warriors while the willingness of a team to sign him to a max deal with his injury is also a question mark.
There have been some concerns over Irving as a teammate and the way he handled things with the Celtics during the 2018-19 NBA season. Apparently, that has led some other previously interested teams to place their free agency focus elsewhere, according to Lewis:
Other teams had already backed off of pursuing Irving with similar concerns over the way things went awry in Boston. If the Nets do the same, it would mean keeping Russell, who is a younger and cheaper option as a restricted free agent.
Whether or not one of those backing off teams is the Lakers is unknown, but it would seem likely that they would be willing to take the chance on Irving if the Nets are truly backing away. The Lakers are already working to create another max salary cap slot and using it on Irving would give the Lakers a trio of All-Star players that very few could match.
The Nets are likely still in the driver’s seat when it comes to Irving, but if the Lakers are able to create that third max slot, they will almost definitely pursue him. Throughout all of the Nets rumors, there were always rumblings that the Lakers were still in play and that could turn out be the truth in the end.