One of the biggest sports stories in the USA on Monday was really nothing more than clickbait by plugged-in NBA reported Shams Charania as he reported that Mavericks free-agent guard Kyrie Irving is hoping that Dallas can trade for LeBron James and reunite the two former Cavaliers All-Stars for next season. How can we put this? It’s not happening.
NBA Betting News: No LeBron James, Kyrie Irving Reunion In Dallas Or Likely Los Angeles, Either
NBA free agency begins June 30 and Irving is an unrestricted free agent. His acquisition from Brooklyn was nothing short of a disaster for Dallas, which didn’t even make the West play-in tournament despite having two of the NBA’s Top 10 talents in Irving and Luka Doncic.
LeBron lives in Los Angeles and his son Bronny starts playing at Southern Cal next college basketball season. James isn’t going to demand a trade from the Lakers to anywhere. Even on the very slim chance he did, Dallas has just two future picks eligible for trade and no young talent to speak of so it couldn’t put together any kind of trade package that would suffice in a deal for James, who still has one more season plus a 2024-25 player option on his deal with the Lakers. LeBron hasn’t officially said he’s even playing next season, although no one expects him to retire.
Since Irving is a free agent, why not just go sign with the Lakers? Irving is eligible for about $46 million in the first season of a new deal and the Lakers don’t have that cap room. The Lakers can come up with about $34 million in cap space, and that’s only if they dump pretty much everyone besides James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves. James ($46.9 million), Davis ($40.6 million) and Max Christie ($1.7 million) are the only three players whom the Lakers currently have on guaranteed contracts for the 2023-24 season. They have to re-sign Reaves, a restricted free agent after a breakout postseason.
For what it’s worth, James has a great relationship with Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd and assistant coach Jared Dudley, who won a championship with James and the Lakers in 2020. James and Doncic also have a good relationship. The Mavericks were preparing to make an offer for James last season when the Lakers were spiraling, despite James being ineligible for a trade last season due to the date of his extension.
Besides, the Lakers are not interested in adding Irving in free agency, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha. LA was one of the teams believed to be a potential suitor for Irving when he and the Nets were at an impasse in talks last summer before Irving picked up his player option for 2022-23. Assuming a $134 million salary cap, Irving would be eligible to re-sign with the Mavericks this summer for a five-year, $272 million contract.
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The cleanest path to James and Irving playing together is in Los Angeles, either by Irving taking a discount to sign with the Lakers in free agency or by Dallas sending him there in a sign-and-trade.
The tentative plan for the Lakers is to run it back with as much of this past season’s group as they can possibly afford under the new, stricter collective bargaining agreement. They will only pursue a third star if they deem that player of a certain caliber and believe he can fit next to James and Davis.
Some off the court news as LeBron will be the official starter when the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race celebrates its centenary this weekend. Since 1949, the role of race starter has often been given to a personality from the world of politics, sport, film or industry. Previous official starters include Brad Pitt (2016), Rafael Nadal (2018), Alain Delon (1996), French president Georges Pompidou (1972) and Steve McQueen (1971).
James is a partner in Fenway Sports Group, which co-owns the RFK Racing NASCAR team. The U.S.-based stock car series is celebrating its 75th anniversary and has a special entry at Le Mans driven by seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button and 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller.
The free-agent rumor mill will really start to heat up once the NBA Finals between the Nuggets and Heat ends with the series tied 1-1 and Game 3 on Wednesday with Denver a short favorite on the NBA odds. The Finals can’t end before next Monday.
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