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NBA analyst believes Kyrie Irving makes Los Angeles Lakers ‘title contender’

Matt Johnson
Kyrie Irving, Los Angeles Lakers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to make a big splash this summer after failing to make the playoffs this past season. With Kyrie Irving likely becoming available, reuniting the All-Star point guard with LeBron James seems fitting.

Since the two future Hall of Famers split after playing together with the Cleveland Cavaliers, their relationship has improved. Years removed from Irving saying he didn’t care about LeBron’s feelings, the 30-year-old is now in a different place mentally.

The Lakers are near the top of Irving’s trade list, with an opportunity to become teammates with LeBron and Anthony Davis extremely appealing. While he will still attempt to land a max contract extension from the Brooklyn Nets this offseason, a split feels inevitable.

Related: Kyrie Irving has short trade list

If Irving becomes a free agent, there is only one way he can head to Los Angeles. One of the highest-paid NBA players in recent years would need to sign the mid-level exception. While taking a massive pay cut would seem unlikely, there is reportedly some fear in Brooklyn that it could happen.

If the Lakers are able to snag Irving, NBA analyst and former player Matt Barnes told TMZ Sports he believes the addition would make Los Angeles a championship threat.

“Kyrie is probably a top 5 talent in the world, but you never know what you’re going to get. So, if Kyrie is committed to playing whether he plays in Brooklyn or the Lakers, he definitely makes them a title contender.”

Matt Barnes on potential impact of Kyrie Irving on Los Angeles Lakers (H/T TMZ Sports)

Of course, Barnes includes the important caveat that must be factored in with Irving. This is the same player who missed a significant portion of the regular season due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Prior to that, he took a leave of absence right around the time of a family birthday.

Related: 4 ideal Kyrie Irving trade scenarios

Even if the Lakers sign Irving, a lot would need to go right for this team to even have a shot at reaching the Western Conference Finals. Injuries plagued LeBron and Davis last season, exposing the team’s lack of depth when they missed time. Furthermore, there is still uncertainty regarding Kendrick Nunn’s health and Malik Monk could leave in free agency.

There is certainly a lot of upside with an Irving-LeBron-Davis pairing. As recent years have demonstrated, though, something is bound to backfire and the results could be ugly.