A fresh development has emerged in the plot of a potential LeBron James–Kyrie Irving reunion. According to sources cited by The Athletic and Bleacher Report, Irving is reportedly asking the Dallas Mavericks to explore the possibility of trading for James during the upcoming offseason, aiming to form a formidable trio alongside himself and Luka Doncic.
It is no secret that Irving and James have been open to a reunion since their days together on the Cleveland Cavaliers. As recently as the February trade deadline, when Irving was with the Nets before being dealt to Dallas, LeBron made it clear that he would welcome the opportunity to play alongside his former teammate.
BR reported that the Mavericks were already contemplating an offer for James last season, particularly when the Los Angeles Lakers were struggling. However, the Lakers made significant trades near the deadline that altered the course of their season.
Assembling a James-Irving-Doncic Big 3 under the NBA’s stringent new collective bargaining agreement poses a challenge. The revised CBA imposes strict penalties on teams above the second salary apron, making it highly challenging to accommodate three maximum-salaried players on a roster.
James, who is currently 38 years old, has one year remaining on his contract worth $46.9 million, with a player option of $50.6 million for the 2024-25 season. The expectation is that the four-time MVP will return for his 21st season.
As an unrestricted free agent, Irving represents an important pivot point for the Mavericks, who acquired the eight-time All-Star through a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in February.
Considering the Mavericks’ ability to offer Irving a more lucrative contract than any other team, it seems unlikely that he’ll wind up with the Lakers, who have limited flexibility and two key restricted free agents of their own in Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura.
Based on a projected salary cap of $134 million, Irving would be eligible to re-sign with the Mavericks this summer for a substantial five-year contract worth $272 million, according to B/R’s Eric Pincus. The deal is, however, unlikely to be for that full amount.
There are significant hurdles the Mavericks must overcome in order to orchestrate a blockbuster trade for James, who has established deep roots in Los Angeles since his arrival in 2018.
In a previous interview on the I Am Athlete podcast, Irving expressed regrets about his abrupt departure from James and the Cavaliers in 2017, acknowledging that better communication could have led to more success.
NBA free agency is set to begin on June 30.
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