Trades that make a lot of sense: Kyrie Irving to the Lakers and more

With free agency just three days away, HoopsHype’s salary cap expert Yossi Gozlan came up with several trades he’d like to share.

Dejounte Murray to the Pelicans

Dejounte Murray may not be actively available, but perhaps he could be had for the right price. Per Jake Fischer, “a Jrue Holiday-like deal, three first-round picks” type of package may be enough to get the Spurs interested.


Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans for the Pelicans (or Lakers via right to swap) 2023 first-round pick, Lakers unprotected 2024 first-round pick (can be deferred to 2025), Bucks unprotected 2027 first-round pick, Devonte Graham, Garrett Temple, Jaxson Hayes, and Kira Lewis.

Many teams can offer that many first-round picks but very few teams have multiple first-round picks by other teams to offer as well. Enter the Pelicans, who still have multiple owed first-round picks from trading Anthony Davis and Holiday. They could cash in the remainder of their chips for a player like Murray to round out their defense.

In reality, the Spurs would probably also be pulling for talented young players under team control like Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III, and Jose Alvarado. But the Pelicans are close to contending with Zion Williamson set to return this season. They should do everything they can to keep their core players and make a draft picks-heavy offer.

The Pelicans are likely to become taxpayers in the near future, but this specific framework allows them to fill out the rest of the roster and avoid it this season. This includes utilizing the $10.3 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception on veteran help. They’d also generate two trade exceptions worth $11.6 million and $4 million in this deal.

In addition to the first-round picks, the Spurs take on former first-round picks in Hayes and Lewis Jr. The Spurs also take on some unwanted money in Graham and Temple and use a good chunk of their cap space to make this deal work. They’d have a big roster crunch to deal with after but they’d also still have roughly $18 million in cap space remaining.

Nerlens Noel to the Nets

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Knicks are reportedly all-in on pursuing Jalen Brunson in free agency. They are currently projected to generate $16 million in cap space after offloading Kemba Walker and Ousmane Dieng. They’ll need to create a little more cap space in order to offer Brunson a contract in the $20-25 million annual range.


Nerlens Noel and the Pistons 2023 first-round pick (heavily protected through 2027) to the Brooklyn Nets for cap space.

Offloading Noel would allow the Knicks to generate $24.5 million while keeping Mitchell Robinson’s cap hold. This would allow them to offer Brunson up to a four-year, $105 million contract while being able to go over the cap afterward to re-sign Robinson. New York would still have two additional first-round picks leftover from the Dieng trade despite giving up the Pistons pick.

Noel would be a solid backup center option for the Nets and good insurance in case they don’t bring back Nicolas Claxton or Andre Drummond. This could also allow the Nets to prioritize using their $6.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception on wing players.

Noel’s $9.2 million salary fits into Brooklyn’s $11.3 million James Harden trade exception, so they won’t have to send any players back. However, acquiring Noel in that scenario would increase their luxury tax payment by nearly $30 million. The tax implications are what would require an asset like a first-round pick from the Knicks for the Nets to help them out.

Malcolm Brogdon to the Mavericks

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks will likely be looking for another guard if they lose Brunson, whose return could’ve increased their luxury tax payment by as much as $130 million. While losing Brunson would hurt, they could remain as competitive and cost-effective if they can trade one of their existing contracts for a new guard.


Malcolm Brogdon and Goga Bitadze to the Mavericks for Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell, and a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick (first available draft).

Turning Hardaway Jr. into Brogdon instead of re-signing Brunson would curb Dallas’ luxury tax payment significantly and potentially allow them to completely avoid it. This factors in them utilizing the $6.4 million taxpayer MLE, a portion of which could go to second-round pick Jaden Hardy in order to give him at least a three-year deal. They would also generate a $11.1 million trade exception in this deal.

Brogdon’s name has been one of the hotter ones in trade rumors with Adrian Wojnarowski going as far as to say that he’s likely to get moved. With the Knicks focusing on Brunson and the Wizards potentially looking at options like Tyus Jones, interest in Brogdon may not be as strong as it seemed. If taking on some unwanted money nets them a first-round pick for him, that may be worth it.

Kyrie Irving to the Lakers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It appears Kyrie Irving might be pushing for a trade to the Lakers, perhaps because they may be the only team who may be willing to pay him a maximum contract. If the Lakers trade every asset they have left for him, he might have enough leverage to command maximum dollars and years on his next deal.


Lakers receive Irving, Derrick Favors, JaMychal Green, Ty Jerome, and Vit Krecji

Thunder receive Russell Westbrook and the Lakers unprotected 2029 first-round pick

Nets receive Austin Reaves, the Lakers unprotected 2027 first-round pick, and generate a $35.3 million trade exception.

This framework draws inspiration from Eric Pincus’ framework on a deal between these teams that would send Irving to the Lakers. This deal must be completed by June 30 while the Thunder still have access to their $23.4 million in cap space.

Oklahoma City would have to send out an additional $20.8 million to fit Westbrook into their cap space. Sending out Favors and Green gets them mostly there. The remaining $2.8 million comes in the form of Jerome and Krecji, who fit nicely in trade exceptions the Lakers own. They also receive a far out unprotected first-round pick for their trouble, and would presumably buy out Westbrook.

Trading Westbrook and Reaves allows the Lakers to take back Irving, Favors, and Green while factoring in Irving’s 15 percent trade bonus, which would raise his salaries in 2021-22 and 2022-23 by $2.7 million each. The Lakers’ luxury tax payment could go as high as $80 million after filling out the rest of the roster if they also use the $6.4 million MLE.

It’s hard to put trade value on a disgruntled All-Star who has willingly sacrificed money in the past by not playing. With that said, getting a first-round pick and a massive trade exception to help accelerate a rebuild could suffice given the circumstances. What they get for Kevin Durant afterward could give them enough assets to move forward.