Talk of a potential reunion between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers picked up steam over the weekend when ESPN's Brian Windhorst recently said on his podcast, "Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective", that the Boston Celtics guard "has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers."
Irving and James were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers for three seasons and reached the NBA Finals in each of those campaigns, including the franchise's first ever championship in 2016.
The C's guard wanted out of Cleveland before the 2017-18 season and not wanting to play with James was among the reported reasons for his trade request. Irving talked during this past season about apologizing to James for the way things transpired during their time together in Cleveland, and that led some people to believe a reunion actually was possible.
However, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed during Monday's episode of "First Take" a text exchange he had with people close to Irving's family, and they were emphatic that an Irving-James partnership in Los Angeles isn't going to happen.
"From what I'm told, it's not going to happen," Smith said. "I got a text message from folks close to Kyrie's family, within the hour, as we were teasing this subject. Quote: 'There is no way in hell he's going to LA. I don't give a damn what anybody says, knock that down for us right now please. He ain't going to LA.' That's what they say.
Smith tweeted Saturday that from what he's heard, there's a 95 percent chance Irving and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant are planning on going to the New York Knicks in NBA free agency this summer. He re-iterated that point Monday on "First Take."
"From everything that I've been hearing over the last few days, Kyrie Irving is heading to New York City," Smith said. "Kyrie Irving is heading to Madison Square Garden with Kevin Durant. People in his inner circle are trying to bring the Nets into the mix, but clearly New York is the destination. The likelihood is it will be MSG."
Irving struggled in the playoffs for the Celtics, who saw their 2019 playoff run ended in disappointing fashion in a five-game second-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite his struggles at the end of the season for Boston, Knicks fans almost certainly would welcome Irving to New York City with open arms. The Knicks franchise hasn't won a title since 1973, it's made only two NBA Finals appearances (1994 and 1999) since that championship, and it has reached the playoffs just four times in the last 18 seasons (and not once since 2013). Irving also grew up in New Jersey, so he has a local connection to basketball in the Big Apple.
Irving did not go into detail when asked about his upcoming free agency after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs last week, and it's possible he still hasn't made up his mind. The Celtics should try everything to re-sign him, but it appears they will have plenty of competition, which is to be expected when talking about a player of Irving's caliber.
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