It’s hard to know whether Kyrie Irving will stay in Dallas or head to the Lakers to join his old buddy LeBron James.
The fact that he declined to answer questions about his future at the Mavericks raised some questions this week.
Despite the rumblings of a Kyrie-LeBron reunion in LA, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski believes staying in Dallas will provide a better outcome for Irving.
“I think it’s more likely than not Kyrie Irving stays in Dallas just because of what they invested in him,” Wojnarowski said. “And his chance to get the kind of contract he wants—for all the reasons they traded for him, they were at a shortage of talent around Luka Doncic. Hopefully this thing goes well enough, it’s never going to be perfect with Kyrie Irving—but given what they gave up and Dallas’ track record of being willing to pay players who want to be there, I think it’s more likely than not Kyrie Irving is in Dallas. Of course, it can all change.”
Irving will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $136 million contract which dates back to 2019 with the Nets.
The Mavs can offer Irving more than anyone else because they hold his Bird rights. They could give him $272 million over five years. But the idea of paying someone with such a tumultuous career presents an interesting situation for Mark Cuban and Nico Harrison.
Other teams with enough cap space to give Kyrie the money he wants are the Pistons, Magic, Pacers, Blazers and Spurs.And clearly, he’s unlikely to be interested in playing for any of those teams.
And while Woj believes Irving is likely to remain in Dallas, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon think he’s heading to LA.
“I believe Irving will be a Laker next season,” Vardon wrote. “Irving wants a four-or five-year contract, for the maximum money allowed. The Lakers can’t quite get to the four-year, $210 million max deal he would be eligible for outside of Dallas, but they can pay him north of $30 million per year.”
LeBron James, meanwhile, has publicly expressed his desire for Irving to join the Lakers and was disappointed when it didn’t happen in the past.
Irving himself is still open to the idea of playing with LeBron in LA according to Heavy Sports, plus only three Lakers players – James, Anthony Davis, and Max Christie have fully guaranteed contracts past this season, which frees up a lot of cap space.