[James] has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
There was a belief among some that James might refrain from signing [his recently-completed contract extension] quickly as a leverage play. James could’ve twisted the Lakers’ proverbial arm, applying pressure to make a trade, similar to the way he has operated in the past. Instead, he committed for at least the next two seasons, regardless of if the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook or how they fare this season.
Considering James’ preference to trade for Irving and his displeasure with the Lakers’ inactivity at the 2022 trade deadline, the tea leaves would suggest the Lakers indicated to James they will be more aggressive in their pursuit of improving their title chances this season, which, of course, would have to come in form of trading Westbrook.
Not quite sure how James could look at the mayhem Irving has generated with the Nets and say, “We’ve got to get him.” But apparently he is doing that. If only he could have gotten Irving to leave all that money on the table and decline the player option in Brooklyn.
Irving has been relatively quietly recently. He’s allowing Kevin Durant to the run the ball of dissent. But you know he has to be chomping at the bit to also cause a ruckus. The Nets should just suck it up, get some draft capital and bring Westbrook in. It will be a disaster. But it’s going to be that no matter what.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]