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Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook trade talks heating up

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Brooklyn Nets could be looking to blow things up, by starting with a Kyrie Irving trade, but the point guard reportedly only has one team interested in his services: The Los Angeles Lakers. Even if there’s likely more than one team enticed by Irving’s abilities, the Lakers at least appear to be one of the most motivated buyers.

It was clear from the start, Russell Westbrook and the Lakers weren’t a good fit last season. Not with that roster construction. If Irving wants out, and if the Lakers are still looking to move Westbrook, their salaries could make these two teams perfect trade partners. Westbrook makes $47 million next season, and Irving makes $36.9 million. But simply having similar salaries isn’t enough to make a deal come together, though as Yahoo’s Chris Haynes tells it, there’s ‘palpable optimism‘ a Irving for Westbrook agreement can come to fruition this offseason.

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Why a Kyrie Irving for Russell Westbrook trade may be realistic

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Upon first glance, the idea of trading Irving for Westbrook may seem asinine. While both players are some of the most accomplished point guards of the past decade-plus, Irving seems to be playing at a much higher level than Westbrook at this stage in their respective careers.

Westbrook, at 33, is also three years older than Irving, and as mentioned, makes nearly $10 million more next season. Both are then set for free agency. But if you’re the Lakers acquiring Irving, securing a long-term contract is a must.

Keep in mind, an Irving for Westbrook deal likely involves the Lakers adding additional assets, which in this case would just be first round picks, since they’re already sending out more in salary. The biggest impediment here is that the Lakers don’t have all their future draft picks, missing their 2024 selection, and have already given the Pelicans the rights to swap picks next year as well (Anthony Davis trade).

Aside from those two, the Lakers have a clear runway to trade for Irving, it could just be about convincing the Nets to take on Westbrook, but that’s pure speculation on my end.

Haynes also notes that the Nets want to unload Joe Harris and his $18.6 million owed in 2022 to the Lakers. If this is a focal point in negotiations, this likely means Talen Horton-Tucker, and his $10.2 million salary head back to Brooklyn. Meanwhile, the Lakers aren’t all that excited about taking on Harris, since his contract also has another year, and $19.9 million owed in 2023 as well. Instead, they’d prefer to get Seth Curry and his expiring $8.4 million salary.

Still, whether it’s Joe Harris or Seth Curry included, aside from salary matching, neither player will be the hold-up in this one. If talks are that close, expect the trade to get done.

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