Draymond Green on possibility of Irving, LeBron on Lakers: “They won’t beat us”
If Kyrie Irving bolts the Brooklyn Nets — and, despite the seemingly increasing tensions, that’s still a big “if” — the Lakers are the most discussed potential destination. That despite how difficult it is to put together an opt-in and trade that works. The Lakers are the trending topic because of the headlines of LeBron James and Irving reuniting, and because the Lakers are (and should be) the most desperate of the suitors to make it work — they don’t have another good path to contention next season.
Draymond Green, what do you think of having to defend your title with the Warriors against a reunited LeBron and Irving? Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg asked Green about it.
“With LeBron James, if you give them someone like Kyrie... they’ll have a chance because of the way Kyrie can score the basketball. LeBron will only put him in a position to do that. Kyrie has not proven to be a great leader. LeBron will put an umbrella over that. If you can do what you’re good at, you have LeBron leading...
“They could contend, but they won’t beat us.”
What else did you expect Green to say?
To play along with the “what if?” of Irving on the Lakers, the biggest question about the Lakers contending with Irving is the same one without him: Does Anthony Davis step up and play like a top-10 player in the game again? Is he healthy? Do we get “bubble” Davis who was knocking down his jumpers and owning the paint on defense? The Lakers need that Davis back. With him they contend; with any lesser Davis they do not.
The problem with Irving to the Lakers is getting him there. As noted above, it’s very difficult to construct an opt-in-and-trade that works for the Lakers, Nets, and a third team somewhere (likely taking on Russell Westbrook’s salary). All the Lakers can offer Irving right now as a free agent is the $6.4 taxpayers midlevel exception. Irving has a $36.9 million player option he has to decide on by June 29 — to pay for what the Lakers can offer is to leave $30 million on the table. Kyrie does things differently, but leaving $30 million on the table?
If Irving comes to the Lakers, we’ll see if Green was right. But we are a long, long way from testing that hypothesis.