Kyrie Irving’s spring media tour rolled on Monday with some unexpected introspection.
The mercurial Nets star made an appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast and expressed regret for blowing up his partnership with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers after just one NBA title. Irving, who forced a trade after the team upset the Golden State Warriors in the finals, believes the Cavs would have won more championships if not for his immaturity.
WFAN’s Boomer Esiason thinks there is an angle here.
“Listening to the Kyrie Irving thing yesterday, and this come-to-Jesus moment about how he left Cleveland and he talked to LeBron, blah, blah, blah – it sounds like someone wants to get to LA,” Esiason said Tuesday morning on-air. “That’s what it sounds like to me now.”
Gregg Giannotti, Esiason’s partner, then asserted – half-seriously – that if anything, Irving may be hoping to bring James to Brooklyn with him and Kevin Durant.
“Well, it’s one or the other,” Esiason said. “Because that’s what it sounds like to me now. This is olive-branching. I think this is kind of olive-branching now, taking a little bit of the responsibility on your immature shoulders for screwing that whole thing up.”
(Editor’s note: Or maybe he wants James to tell Nike to keep his shoe deal?)
Let’s break it all down here:
Irving’s future is uncertain after a tumultuous season. But most expect he will exercise his upcoming player option and play at least one more year with the Nets. James could sign an extension with the Lakers this offseason. But if he does not, he will be a free agent after this season as well. There have been rumors that Phil Jackson is advising Lakers owner and ex-fianceé Jeanie Buss to trade James, but no one expects that will happen.
The Lakers clearly need to overhaul their roster to win another title with James. And he did just say Durant and Irving are on his short-list (along with Kobe Bryant) to take on Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in a game of two-on-two. So it isn’t inconceivable Los Angeles could target Irving and backchannel to him that he should decline the option and become a free agent.
And on the other hand, one way for Irving to get the extension he wants from the Nets would be to convince owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks that he and Durant can deliver them James after next season, assuming James does not take the Lakers extension.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]