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LeBron James has ‘known preference’ for Los Angeles Lakers to sign Kyrie Irving

As LeBron James weighs whether or not to retire, his ultimate decision may come down to whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers make the moves he wants to see this summer.

James, who turns 39 years old in December, is coming off arguably one of the best playoff performances ever by a player over the age of 35. However, he is considering retirement after 20 years in the NBA following a Western Conference Finals loss to the Denver Nuggets.

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The Lakers are entering a pivotal offseason that will heavily dictate the team’s future. Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell and Lonnie Walker are all entering unrestricted free agency. Meanwhile, Rui Hachimura is a restricted free agent with Los Angeles holding his bird rights. Even with new CBA rules kicking in to make it more difficult for teams spending above the luxury tax threshold, James reportedly wants Los Angeles to spend aggressively on one player.

According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, there’s a “known preference” that James wants the Lakers to spend what it takes to land Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer.

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Irving and James have each expressed an interest over the last year in becoming teammates once again. The Lakers tried to acquire Irving from the Brooklyn Nets before the NBA trade deadline, but the Nets refused to deal Irving to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles would face significant competition from the Dallas Mavericks for Irving. After trading a future first-round pick for Irving during the regular season, Dallas is expected to be aggressive this offseason and its priority is re-signing Irving.

If the Lakers landed Irving, adding a third star to their core, it would come at the cost of significant rotation depth. Similar to previous seasons, Los Angeles would be reliant on veteran minimums and unproven contributors on cheap contracts.

While many around the NBA doubt James will retire, leaving the door open to the possibility could provide him with leverage against the Lakers’ front office. If Los Angeles fears James could retire if Irving isn’t signed, it could compel the Lakers to make him a sizable offer this summer.

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