When virtuoso guard Kyrie Irving asked to be traded by the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, it seemed to open up a vista toward championship contention for the Los Angeles Lakers.
They had attempted to trade for him last summer, and there have been rumors that Irving would like to join the Lakers, a move that would've reunited him with LeBron James.
But the Dallas Mavericks swooped in on Sunday and quickly put together a package of Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 unprotected first-round draft pick and two second-round picks that Brooklyn accepted.
Perhaps the Lakers cannot be blamed too much, as they made a real effort to land Irving.
The Lakers were willing to give up lots of draft capital
One sticking point in any major trade the Lakers have been trying to make lately has been their reluctance to include either their 2027 or 2029 first-round draft picks, which are the only first-round picks they can include in a trade right now per NBA rules.
General manager Rob Pelinka recently said the team would be willing to part with one or both picks if such a move resulted in it getting a player or multiple players who would make it into a title contender.
According to Chris Haynes, the Lakers were offering both of those picks to the Nets as part of their package for Irving.
Many teams have seen those picks as L.A.'s most attractive, and possibly its only attractive, assets on the trade market. It remains to be seen if it will offer them as part of a potential trade for someone else who could help move the needle.
The Nets reportedly didn't want to help the Lakers
Although the Nets and Lakers were reportedly engaged in talks this weekend in order to try to complete an Irving trade, it looks like Nets management didn't want Irving to head to L.A.
Many people, especially Lakers fans, feel that there is a sentiment among rival teams that they want to avoid helping the Purple and Gold at all costs, even if it means accepting a lesser trade offer or allowing a player to leave in free agency. It is debatable whether this is true, however, not to mention hard to prove empirically.
Was Tsai more motivated by a refusal to help the Lakers or by a refusal to accommodate Irving and send him to the team he reportedly preferred above all others?
Perhaps the Lakers weren't completely sold on Irving
Although Irving could've made the Lakers the favorites to reach the NBA Finals or even win the world championship, he would've come with lots of baggage.
He was suspended for eight games earlier this season after promoting a documentary with antisemitic content. Last season, he refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which resulted in him sitting out most of the schedule.
Reportedly, these off-the-court incidents made some in the Lakers organization reluctant to go all-in on an Irving trade.
Via The Orange County Register (h/t Lakers Daily):
Los Angeles also didn't love the idea of giving Irving the type of contract extension he had demanded from the Nets - a demand which led to his trade request.
Via The Athletic:
Perhaps if it weren't for those concerns, the Lakers may have included a bit more capital that would've gotten the Nets to say yes to them.
It is now back to the drawing board for them, which means trying to work out a less attractive trade in order to give themselves some sort of chance at not only making the playoffs but also making some serious noise there.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire