Kyrie Irving forced his way out of Cleveland because he says he was desperate to free himself from LeBron James’ shadow. But two years later, the mercurial Celtics guard might once again be interested in riding LeBron’s coattails.
Irving is expected to grant the Lakers an interview in free agency this summer, according to the ever reliable Stephen A. Smith. The highest-priced talent in ESPN history broke the news on his radio show Monday. “I'm told Kyrie Irving will grant the Lakers an interview this offseason, this summer,” Smith said. “The Lakers will have an opportunity to get Kyrie Irving to come to L.A. I did not say he's coming to L.A. I did not say that I don't know what he's going to do, but during his free-agent tour, I'm told he going to give the Lakers an interview.”
Smith is wisely hedging his bets –– making sure we know he’s not guaranteeing Irving will sign with the Lakers. But it seems fair to expect Irving will give the Lakers a chance in free agency. He’s undergone a public reconciliation with LeBron this season, informing reporters about his makeup phone call with the all-time great.
The Lakers will probably be interested in Irving’s services, especially if they’re not guaranteed to land Kawhi Leonard, who gave the Raptors an MVP-caliber campaign. Los Angeles missed the postseason with their mishmash roster comprised of LeBron, guys who can’t shoot, and young players who read their names in trade rumors all season.
It still makes the most financial sense for Irving to re-sign with the Celtics, since they can offer him an additional year and $80 more million than any other team. But Irving could also sign an one-year deal with an option elsewhere, ala Kevin Durant, maximizing his earning potential on a yearly basis.
In addition to the Lakers, it seems likely Irving will meet with the Knicks as well. He’s been tied to New York and said this year he holds respect for the Knicks franchise.