Kyrie? Kemba? The Lakers push for third star has begun
The Lakers brought a second star to Los Angeles on Saturday, agreeing to a blockbuster trade with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. Now, they are prepared to acquire another to join forces with Davis and LeBron James.
And for James, it could be a familiar face.
The Lakers are in play for Kyrie Irving, according to The Athletic. Irving plans to opt out of his $21.3 million deal with the Celtics this offseason, becoming an unrestricted free agent. The talented point guard, who won the 2016 NBA championship with James and the Cavaliers, is interested in the Lakers and has wanted to play alongside Davis for months, according to The Athletic.
Irving has recently been linked with a move to the Nets, but that could change with Davis’ arrival in Los Angeles. Irving reconciled with James this season after friction between the two influenced his trade demand, which led to a deal between the Cavaliers and Celtics. Irving’s shooting and playmaking would fit right in with the Lakers, giving them a floor-spacing lineup with James, Davis and Kyle Kuzma.
The Lakers are also expected to pursue Kawhi Leonard, according to The Ringer.
How Leonard would fit in the Lakers’ lineup isn’t as clear, but he will enter free agency following one of the best postseason runs ever, leading the Raptors to their first championship. He averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds on 49% shooting from the field during the playoffs, winning Finals MVP.
The Clippers and Knicks will also pursue Leonard, while the Raptors will make a strong effort to keep their star forward.
Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler are also top priorities for the Lakers, according to Yahoo Sports.
The Hornets can offer Walker the supermax, but competing for a championship could sway him to take less money and join ranks with James and Davis. The 29-year-old point guard averaged 25.6 points and 5.9 assists on 43% shooting from the field last season.
Butler is expected to decline his $19.8 million player option with the 76ers, and is coming off a strong season, averaging 18.2 points, 4.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 55 games in Philadelphia. The 29-year-old forward was a reliable source of offense as the 76ers took the Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals and is one of the best two-way players in the league.
The Lakers’ cap situation won’t be clear until the Davis trade is finalized. The trade is expected to be completed July 6, when the moratorium period ends, according to ESPN. If Davis voids his $4 million trade bonus, which he is expected to do, the Lakers will have about $27.7 million in cap space, according to Bleacher Report. That would not be enough for a max contract.
However, if the Lakers and Pelicans wait until July 30 to seal the trade, they could have up to $32.5 million in cap room, which would be enough to accommodate a max-level free agent. By waiting 30 days, the Lakers would be acting like a team over the cap, allowing them to use the fourth overall pick in the draft as salary.
Whatever there cap situation is, the Lakers will have work to do in filling out their roster after agreeing to part ways with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart in the trade for Davis.
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