With the Lakers sitting out another postseason despite signing one of the best players in NBA history, fans and critics have been scrambling to figure out what went wrong. A new report from The Athletic suggests the team's struggles were rooted in ongoing locker room dissension that began with LeBron James pushing the Lakers to trade for Anthony Davis.
On Tuesday, The Athletic's Bill Oram reported that James' urgency to secure the Davis deal before the Feb. 7 trade deadline sparked an in-house mutiny led by the Lakers' young core.
"It was apparent that the young players no longer trusted James, believing he was operating behind the scenes to get them traded to New Orleans," Oram wrote when describing the "schism" caused by the Lakers' willingness to unload most of their young core for AD.
Although it is unknown if Magic Johnson and James were pulling the strings, we do know that the Lakers hope to secure another top-tier player during the off-season. But could it be Kyrie Irving?
During Monday's episode of ESPN's The Stephen A. Smith Show, Smith said that sources close to Irving claim that he will not only exercise his option to become a free agent this summer, but he also intends to schedule a meeting with the Lakers.
"I'm told Kyrie Irving will grant the Lakers an interview this offseason," Smith said. He also reiterated that this does not necessarily mean that Irving will don the Purple and Gold next season. "I don't know what he's gonna do, but during his free-agent tour, I'm told he'll give the Lakers an interview."
Smith's report is the latest development in what is shaping up to be a very interesting off-season. With big name players like Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and more hitting the free agency market this summer, NBA fans and insiders have been searching for any clues about where a player might land. Although the majority of the rumors are just that, Smith's claims hold a little more validity as he's not the first person to speculate on an Irving/James reunion. In January, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher disclosed that Irving is "very interested" in joining LeBron in Los Angeles.
"A source close to the Celtics confirmed that Kyrie Irving is genuinely interested in reuniting with his former Cavaliers teammate," Bucher wrote. "That is for real," the source said."
Along with Bucher's report, there's the possibility of Anthony Davis getting moved to the Lakers as well. However, it should be noted that AD still has two years left on his contract with the Pelicans and the drama caused by this year's botched trade talks make it more of a stretch. Either way, with the Lakers missing the playoffs again, the front office has an abundance of time to create an enticing offer for Irving if and when he does meet with the franchise.