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The buzz around the NBA this week has been centered on Kyrie Irving and the fact that he may try to force the Brooklyn Nets to trade him.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been mentioned as one of the teams that would have the most interest in him, and in fact, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said they are the “biggest threat” to acquire the star guard.
It is generally believed that for such a trade to work, Irving would have to opt into the final season of his contract, as the Lakers have no salary cap space.
But there is another way Irving could suit up for the Purple and Gold, and Brian Windhorst says it’s a possibility.
Via Lakers Daily:
“According to NBA insider Brian Windhorst, there is concern in Brooklyn that Irving could abandon the team to sign with the Lakers. He mentioned the Lakers’ mid-level exception as a possible way to make it work.”
"There is a concern in Brooklyn that Kyrie could be inventive enough to leave the money on the table to go play with the Lakers & reunite with LeBron…Going to play with LeBron & the Lakers for the mid-level, you can't rule that out."
— 𝙏𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙞𝙣’ 𝙉𝘽𝘼 (@_Talkin_NBA) June 23, 2022
The Lakers are expected to only have the taxpayer mid-level exception available for use, which is estimated to be worth just over $6 million.
If Irving were to sign for that much, he would be giving up about $30 million, as he would be owed about $36 million next season if he opts in.
On the other hand, he is someone who marches to his own beat, so anything is technically possible with someone as enigmatic as him.