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Lakers can’t win with Russell Westbrook. They need Kyrie Irving



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There’s nothing sophisticated about this.

If the Lakers can purchase Kyrie Irving, they need to.

Why is this even a debate?

By no means thoughts that Irving has an intensive damage historical past and is notoriously unreliable. Overlook that he can destroy a crew’s plans, because the Boston Celtics realized and the Brooklyn Nets are studying now.

Irving could be a present.

He’s nonetheless a top-10 participant when wholesome and the Lakers don’t have the posh of turning away a expertise of his caliber, no matter what a wacko he may be.

The plan for renewed glory shared by incoming coach Darvin Ham will depend on cement-headed Russell Westbrook studying to play with out the ball and collaborating on protection, which sounds about as sensible as my plans to retire subsequent week after profitable the Powerball jackpot.

The Lakers can’t presumably win with Westbrook. With Irving, they could. That’s just about the argument.

Constructed round 37-year-old LeBron James, the Lakers are in win-now mode however with a can’t-win roster. If basic supervisor Rob Pelinka passes on an open shot for Irving, his subsequent two calls may as properly be to commerce James and Anthony Davis.

Whether or not the chance presents itself is one other query, as Irving’s reported curiosity within the Lakers may very properly be a ploy to extract a extra profitable extension provide from the Brooklyn Nets.

Then once more, in relation to the unofficial spokesman for the Flat Earth Society, who actually is aware of what he’s considering?

Maybe his compulsion to intensify his individuality by taking excessive and unorthodox positions will result in him do the unthinkable: Decline his $37-million possibility with the Nets and signal with the Lakers as a $6-million midlevel exemption.

In that case, the Lakers wouldn’t need to discover a place to dump Westbrook and will simply launch him.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook falls to the court against the Utah Jazz on March 31.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook falls to the court docket towards the Utah Jazz on March 31.

(Rick Bowmer / Related Press)

Whereas Irving has sacrificed cash to defend his misguided ideas earlier than — his refusal to get vaccinated price him round $17 million in misplaced wages final season — the extra possible situation includes the Lakers discovering a crew to finish a three-way commerce with the Nets.

A deal would nearly definitely require the Lakers to connect to Westbrook their subsequent two first-round draft picks in 2027 and 2029.

However what different choices have they got?

They’re the Lakers. Their followers don’t settle for rebuilding tasks and so they definitely gained’t settle for a rebuilding undertaking that begins in 5 years.

That is extra about the place the Lakers stand than about Irving.

Irving pressured his method out of Cleveland after profitable a championship with the Cavaliers. He pledged his long-term allegiance to the Boston Celtics, solely to desert them to play alongside Kevin Durant on the Nets. And now this.

Between lacking video games over his vaccination standing, a protest of the Jan. 6 riot and a wide range of accidents, Irving has performed a mean of solely 34 video games a season in his three years with the Nets.

These could be legit causes to move on him — for a crew such because the Clippers.

The Clippers have a basis. They need to be contenders if they’re wholesome. They’ve one thing to lose.

The Lakers don’t.

They’ve compounded their errors through the years, one determined transfer resulting in the following. This course of has left them stranded in a nuclear catastrophe zone of their very own making, their roster now wanting as if it was the results of a failed experiment performed in a Soviet-era laboratory.

If there’s any motive for the Lakers to be upbeat about these sorriest of instances, it’s that the selection has been taken out of the palms of their bumbling entrance workplace, not less than as regards to Irving.

There is no such thing as a alternative. They’ve to do that.

After all, even when Irving magically finally ends up on their roster, as James and Davis did earlier than, a lot of their issues will stay. They nonetheless gained’t have depth. James will nonetheless need to reverse the consequences of age. Davis will nonetheless have to remain wholesome.

However they are going to have taken a step, and at this level, a step in any path counts as a step ahead.