NBA - US Sports: Are we set for a LeBron, Irving reunion?
Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from Brooklyn Nets and it seems as if there could be a chance he could link up with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James at Los Angeles Lakers.
Irving was drafted by the Cavs in 2011 with the first overall pick and the point guard went on to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
James had left Cleveland for Miami Heat in 2010 and he won two championships in his four seasons with the franchise before returning to the Cavs ahead of the 2014-15 season.
James and Irving are a strong partnership
During his first stint with his hometown team, James helped Cleveland reach the Finals Series once and they lost in four games to San Antonio Spurs in 2007 but alongside Irving the team enjoyed greater success.
Cleveland missed out on the playoffs altogether in the four years James spent in Miami but Irving continued to improve. He earned his first All-Star selection in his second season in the NBA and the following year was named the All-Star Game MVP.
When James returned to the Ohio outfit, he formed a strong partnership with Irving almost instantly and the duo led the Cavs all the way to the Finals in 2015.
Cleveland brushed aside Boston Celtics 4-0 in the first round, then beat Chicago Bulls 4-2 before a 4-0 win over Atlanta Hawks but they fell in six games to Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
The following year James and Irving were able to deliver a first ever championship to Cleveland as they overcame Golden State in seven games in the Finals.
The 2016-17 season was the final campaign in which James and Irving played together, as the Cavs went on to lose in the Finals to the Dubs.
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The Lakers could form a strong big three with Irving
Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the fans of Miami Heat may disagree, but it could be argued that Irving is LeBron's best ever teammate.
With Anthony Davis on the roster in LA already, the Lakers could form an impressive big three of James, Davis and Irving and if they can keep the trio fit - and happy - over the course of the season it could turn them from a team who missed out on the playoffs last season into serious challengers.
However, the situation with Irving at Brooklyn remains complicated and putting together a deal to bring in the 30-year-old point guard will not be straightforward for the Lakers.
Moving on Westbrook an option for Lakers
The Lakers look to be the only realistic trade destination for Irving at this point and they could put together a package that would appeal to Brooklyn Nets.
New Lakers coach Darvin Ham has stressed he sees Russell Westbrook as a player who can play an important role next season but in truth the franchise would clearly be happy to include him in a trade to bring in Irving, and the Nets would likely be open to acquiring the 2017 MVP and draft picks to get Irving off the roster.
Westbrook has played alongside Kevin Durant before at Oklahoma City Thunder and as yet it remains unclear as to whether or not Durant will be able to force a trade away from the Nets.
Even if he does depart Brooklyn, Westbrook is still a player who could make a huge impact with the Nets. The guard may have struggled to adapt in LA, but his previous stint at Washington Wizards suggests he can slot in to a new team and become a key man.
However, a deal is not straightforward for either team at this stage. The Lakers feel they have some of the pieces in place to compete for the title next season and are keen to finalise their roster as quickly as possible, while Brooklyn will be happy to hold out as they attempt to get the best possible package for Irving.
The Nets are in the midst of a crisis and whether or not they move Irving on now or further down the line doesn't particularly matter.
The Lakers know Brooklyn are unlikely to get what they are looking for in terms of a trade for the guard and won't want to pay over the odds for Irving, but at the same time they need to get their team together quickly.
A James and Irving reunion does seem the best outcome for all parties involved but this will not be an easy trade to put together for either of these franchises, and there is always the chance the Lakers could look elsewhere if Brooklyn continue to stand firm on their wantaway star.