Even though the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t succeeded in landing Kyrie Irving this summer, it doesn’t mean he will never join the team.
There have been plenty of reports that one way or another, Irving is determined to play for the Purple and Gold sooner than later.
According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, if the star guard isn’t traded to L.A. by the end of the summer, he may simply join the team in free agency next summer.
Via The Athletic:
“There are few givens in the NBA, so I would hesitate to label it as such. But all indications are that the Lakers are Irving’s top destination if he leaves Brooklyn, whether it’s via a trade between now and the February 2023 trade deadline, or in free agency next summer, when Westbrook’s salary will be off the Lakers’ books.”
Even if the Lakers keep Westbrook and simply let his contract expire at the end of the coming season, they may still have to do some serious maneuvering to clear enough cap space for Irving.
Even then, they would be severely limited in terms of filling out the rest of the team with solid supporting talent.
It’s a challenge Irving’s Brooklyn Nets know all too well, and it points to a trade as the best way for him to join the Lakers while still having enough of a team around him to have a real shot at his second NBA championship.