Is Kyrie Irving the Lakers’ path to the title or a misguided star chase? – Orange County Registry

That’s what the Lakers wanted, right?

Even before the season, the Lakers floated their interest in a “third star,” as their first-round draft picks — considered their best trade — are best swung in a deal that gives them a big win could bring piece.

If life were limited to a stat box, this piece would be Kyrie Irving: an All-Star starting guard who has already won a championship with LeBron James. In theory, the Lakers could turn Russell Westbrook, their $47.1 million man and dubious on-court fit, into Irving, who can shoot and generate his shot in a way no one else can. In theory, a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the start of the season would make it a contender, right?

That’s what Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka hinted at in September and again last month when he said, “If there’s an opportunity to come to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource that we can hold on to if.” we’re after that’s there’, isn’t it? That’s what LeBron James hinted at when he said he could compete with “the right pieces,” wasn’t it?

Does it look like the Lakers’ dreams of acquiring a disgruntled star will come true?

And how does that differ from the Boston Celtics’ dreams of 2017? Or the dreams of the Brooklyn Nets in 2019?

There is so much to unpack about Irving’s recent trade request, spurred by the Nets’ reluctance to renew his contract on his terms. The news, reported by multiple media outlets, sparked a firestorm on a previously calm Friday morning. Other outlets reported that the Lakers are interested in a potential deal in Irving, who turns 31 next month – of course they’re interested because the Lakers are rarely subtle and their needs are always transparent.

The Lakers need to shoot and languish at 33.6% from 3-point range (which ranks 27th in the NBA); Irving is a high-volume, 39 percent career 3-point shooter whose unrivaled library of moves can give him space at will. If the Lakers move away from Westbrook, who has enjoyed intermittent success and intermittent sixth-man roles this year, they’ll need another playmaker; Irving doesn’t rack up the assists like Westbrook, but he’s a capable passer, having averaged 6.1 assists during his tenure with the Nets. The Lakers tend to fumble when it comes to the game: James was on court in 2016 when Irving hit one of the most clutch shots in NBA history.

That’s the case with Irving – practically all in one paragraph. But to go through the entire counterweight, it takes longer.

The last six years of Irving’s career have been a rollercoaster ride, with few highs to offset the high-profile lows. First of all: He has not played more than 54 games in any of his four seasons with Brooklyn. Some of those absences were due to injuries, but playing in just 29 games of the 2021-22 season was down to Irving’s adamant refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – a situation that helped put superstar teammate James Harden after just over a year to drift to Philadelphia year.

Tensions in the dressing room have dogged Irving in all three markets he has played in. His eccentricities in Cleveland were partially glossed over by winning as James led the franchise to the finals each year. The Celtics played better after he left. The Nets’ dreams of a championship team built around Irving and Kevin Durant have dwindled with each passing season — although it also seems relevant that the Nets were 31-20 fourth in the Eastern Conference (a great position , considering Durant is injured ) at the exact moment Irving decided to blow up her entire season.

According to the Bleacher Report, talks between Irving and the Nets collapsed after the franchise presented him with a contract with incentives tied to winning a championship. (OK…so who doesn’t want to win?) It might also be relevant that in the past 24 hours, Irving had returned to his other off-court hobby, which is sharing video clips of the likes of Jordan Peterson, Jason Whitlock and John Stockton spreading misinformation about the have fallen victim or stirred up controversy.

One of the main reasons why the Lakers’ interest can be assumed is that the franchise has made its bones by chasing stars from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal to James himself. But while several While franchise stars could be the cornerstone of any championship-level team, the Lakers know from experience that more stars doesn’t automatically mean more wins.

Their 2020 title roster was flipped when he took over Davis from New Orleans to join forces with James – but the strong cast of role players was a back-up plan when LA’s off-season recruiting of Kawhi Leonard fell through. Looking for a big move in the 2021 offseason after a disappointing subsequent year, the Lakers traded for Westbrook — a move now widely viewed as a disaster. They didn’t make the playoffs last year and they might not make the playoffs this season either.

Can you dig out of a hole with a shovel?

While there’s a temptation to view the trade for Irving as a correction to the decision to trade for Westbrook — and the on-court fit certainly makes more sense — it’s hard to justify the Lakers doing anything other than their chase for stars to double philosophy. Westbrook and Irving are vastly different players, but the overlaps in their career arcs can feel oddly similar: Two top-level players who failed to advance in the playoffs as leaders of their respective teams that switched franchises didn’t seem heartbroken to be, to let her go.

If anything, the comparison might be less flattering for Westbrook, who despite a tumultuous relationship with the Lakers fanbase has been available to play at least nearly every night: He’s missed just seven games in a season and a half. In the same span of time, Irving has missed 64 games – almost half of all possible games.

If the Lakers find a way to acquire Irving, some kind of long-term future seems inherent — especially if it costs the team real assets. A two-team deal would require another player to match Westbrook’s enormous salary, and it’s a guess that the Nets are looking to ditch another of their pricier deals like Joe Harris, who has missed even more games over the past two years as Irving. But the Nets’ reluctance to commit to Irving long-term likely foreshadows the attitude any self-respecting franchise should have: Is it wise to tie your salary cap for years with a player whose unpredictable nature can erode his franchise? Controversy?

The Lakers’ hubris in making a game for Irving — with James seemingly goading them with cryptic tweets — has a similar hubris to their deal for Westbrook: As if they believe they can succeed where others have failed. As if James’ presence on the roster would turn Irving into some sort of enduring competitor long enough for them to have a shot at their 18th banner in June.

Is Irving capable of this? Have the last few years taught you anything special?

That last question might be the most troubling: There’s of course the matter of Irving’s eight-game ban in November for sharing a link to an anti-Semitic film, but even more troubling is a startling lack of remorse. It took more than a week and the massive repercussions of his actions – including losing a valuable shoe business with Nike – before Irving finally apologized.

“I just want to sincerely apologize for all my actions in the time that has passed since the post was first published,” Irving told SNY in one of his public apologies. “I had a lot of time to think. But if I could do it all over again, I would first focus on healing and restoring many of my close relationships with my Jewish relatives, brothers and sisters.”

Irving also has a long history of advocacy for Black and Indigenous causes, and he can be very vocal about causes that touch him personally. He’s given money to the Standing Rock tribe, and he’s given money and given visibility to Black Lives Matter. This story may be one of the reasons James tweeted that he felt Irving’s suspension was “excessive” and “he’s not the person he’s portrayed”. Is Kyrie Irving the Lakers’ path to the title or a misguided star chase? – Orange County Registry

Russell Falcon

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