In the time since Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Nets, a number of teams have emerged as suitors for the eight-time All-Star. And while Irving has reportedly “maintained an interest in the Lakers,” it is LA’s other team that could swoop in and get a deal done.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers have joined trade talks for Irving, while The Athletic’s Law Murray has reported that LA has already “made a strong offer” to Brooklyn.
The timing of Irving’s request comes just days after Kawhi Leonard’s reported plea to the Clippers’ front office to add a starting-caliber point guard. And while initial reporting linked LA to two of Leonard’s former teammates in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, LA may be best suited to make a move for Irving.
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Why LA Clippers could acquire Kyrie Irving from Nets
The need for a point guard
In a star-driven league, the Clippers must do whatever it takes to keep their stars happy. If there is any substance to the reports of Leonard’s request for some change in the backcourt, LA must do what it can.
At the time of these reports, the Clippers’ rotation of lead guards features Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann and John Wall, who has been out since Jan. 13 with an abdominal strain.
While not necessarily a traditional point guard, Irving would be a massive upgrade at that position as he has played well enough to earn a starting nod in the upcoming All-Star game.
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A strong trade offer
As reported by Murray, the Clippers have not only made an offer for Irving, but they have made a “strong offer” to the Nets.
Given the depth present on LA’s roster, it makes sense that it would be capable of putting together a worthy deal. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, “the Clippers have assets that the Nets actually might want.”
LA has an abundance of riches with regard to its depth. Outside of obvious untouchables in Leonard and Paul George as well as a likely untouchable in Ivica Zubac, the Clippers still have a rotation’s-worth of players they could package in a deal for Irving.
Maximizing their championship window
This is Year 4 of the Leonard-George Era in Los Angeles. Right now, they have one Western Conference Finals appearance to show for it.
Injuries have played a major role, but after mortgaging future assets in order to pair the two stars, the Clippers need to do whatever in their power to win just one title. LA, which has been in the NBA since 1970, is one of six NBA franchises without an NBA Finals appearance.
Leonard, 31, is an all-time great while George is 30 and playing at an All-Star level. While they’re still one of the NBA’s best duos, they aren’t getting any younger. Acquiring Irving, who will be 31 in March, adds another All-Star and consolidates the talent.
A trio of Leonard, George and Irving elevates this Clippers team in a Western Conference that is seemingly wide open.
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There’s familiarity with Tyronn Lue
In 2016, Irving made one of the biggest shots in NBA history to help the Cavaliers their first-ever NBA championship. One year later, he was back on the NBA Finals stage, though the series ended with a loss in five games.
For each of the above two runs, it was Tyronn Lue on the sidelines.
According to Murray, Lue “is open to coaching Irving again,” which is a major part of this process. Irving is on an expiring deal and in search of a long-term contract extension, but there are questions surrounding the risk associated with the long-term commitment.
Lue’s familiarity with Irving could give LA’s brass some peace of mind when weighing the risks and rewards of the deal. Not for nothing, Irving also shared a locker room with Marcus Morris during his time in Boston.
If the saga wasn’t dramatic enough, the news of this offer comes as the Clippers are in New York to face the Knicks for the fifth game of a six-game road trip. They’ll make one more stop before heading back to LA — Monday in Brooklyn against the Nets.
With the Clippers spending a weekend in the Big Apple, we’ll see how this plays out.