BOSTON (CBS) — Most people will be glued to their phones when NBA free agency gets underway on June 30. That includes the brass of the Los Angeles Lakers, even though they don’t really have the money to make a big splash on the open market.
That’s because they’ll be crossing their fingers that Kyrie Irving leaves Boston this summer, but it has nothing to do with their historic rivalry with the Celtics. The Lakers hope Irving lands in Brooklyn, forcing the Nets to move on from D’Angelo Russell so they can swoop in and bring the point guard back to L.A, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“The Lakers now at this point are rooting for Kyrie Irving to go to Brooklyn,” Wojnarowski said Tuesday on ESPN. “Because then Brooklyn renounces D’Angelo Russell, who is a restricted free agent. He becomes unrestricted and then the Lakers could sign Russell as their third star in LA. And they get back a much more mature, polished player, who’s been an All-Star, whose put a team into the postseason.”
The Lakers drafted Russell No. 2 overall back in 2015, but traded him to the Nets in 2017 in a deal that brought Brook Lopez and the rights to Kyle Kuzma to Los Angeles. Russell broke out in Brooklyn last season, averaging a career-high 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game, earning his first All-Star nod. Russell led the Nets to a 42-40 record to earn the sixth seed in the East, ending a three-year postseason drought. The Lakers would love to bring a now seasoned Russell back and put him alongside James and Anthony Davis this summer.
As for who the Celtics could replace Irving with when he departs, rumors surfaced Tuesday afternoon that Boston is now targeting Charlotte free agent Kemba Walker.