A good rule of thumb in these situations is to take advantage of what you’ve been given and not waste your time trying to explain it or try and get more out of it. An Irving-Westbrook trade was a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Lakers, but it now appears that refusing to pay the asking price cost them that chance.
No one knows for sure if the Lakers’ offer of two first-round draught picks for the return of Westbrook and the departure of Irving would have been accepted by the New York Knicks. The rumor mill is pointing in that direction, but there is just as much evidence to suggest that the Nets waited to make a move on Irving until they had resolved their Kevin Durant issues.
We do know, though, that if the Lakers hadn’t made their best offer, Brooklyn would never have considered trading Irving for less than his current market value.
If Rob Pelinka had the chance to trade Westbrook, a player who is so averse to returning to the Los Angeles Lakers that he allegedly fired his own agent of 14 years for merely advising him to, and bring in Irving because the asking price of two first-round picks half a decade from now was too high, then there is no reason he should continue in his current position.
A draught selection was always going to be required if the Thunder wanted to move Westbrook and his contract albatross. At the very least, a first-round draught pick will be required to get a player like Irving.
No problem if Brooklyn asked for those two picks, even if that meant the Lakers had to accept the salary of Joe Harris in order to acquire Irving. The sooner you accept this offer when the world is falling apart around Sean Marks, the better. Things have eased down quite a bit, to say the least.
Deandre Ayton’s re-signing complicates a deal for Durant to Phoenix. The designated player exemption rule prevents Miami from sending Bam Adebayo to Brooklyn, while Toronto will not add Scottie Barnes. By claiming they will wait and use that as an excuse, Brooklyn is virtually telling the Lakers they can do whatever they want while James, Klutch, and Irving all exert their own pressure on them.
It’s possible that this might have been averted if the Lakers had just offered Irving their best deal, which would have meant that Brooklyn would get the greatest offer Irving would get, as well.
Yes, Pelinka has the option of remaining defiant. Assuming Brooklyn can eventually find a Durant trade that checks all the right boxes and frees them up to part with Kyrie, then he can use his get-out-of-jail-free card. Before signing his agreement, James has until the beginning of August to attend the team’s first training camp. As a result, there is still time to pass.
It’s possible that if Brooklyn continues to believe that Durant will not hold out or cause problems like his contemporaries, they could end up in prison for a long time with nothing but the mistakes that put them there and the chance to miraculously escape that they might’ve passed up to think about.
When Aaron Larsuel and I were on “The Hook” together, we talked about all of this and more, including my LeBron-Vegas analogy, which Aaron seemed to enjoy perhaps a little too much.
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