Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James already won a championship together on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the former is reportedly leaving open the possibility of attempting to do the same on the Los Angeles Lakers.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on his radio show that Irving—who has a player option for 2019-20 and can become a free agent this offseason—will interview with the Purple and Gold even if he may not ultimately sign with them (h/t Ryan Ward of Clutch Points).
Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA
Stephen A. Smith on Kyrie Irving/Lakers (2/2): “…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.”
The King and Irving played together from 2014-15 through 2016-17 in Cleveland, reaching the NBA Finals in each of those three seasons. Thanks to their combined excellence, they memorably overcame a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Finals against the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
Irving and James each scored 41 points in Game 5. James followed with 41 more points in Game 6 and a triple-double in Game 7, while Irving drilled the winning shot in the decisive battle.
However, the run ended when Irving requested a trade.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported in July 2017 the point guard wanted to be more of a “focal point” instead of playing in James’ shadow, and Cleveland eventually traded him to the Boston Celtics. James’ Cavaliers still reached the 2018 Finals without Irving, but the four-time MVP left Cleveland when he signed with the Lakers prior to the 2018-19 campaign.
In January, Irving revealed he called his former teammate to apologize for how he behaved and handled criticism during their run with the Cavaliers.
“Yeah, we’re in a good place right now,” James said of their relationship in February, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Me and Kyrie are in a good place right now. I love the man that he’s becoming, I love the challenges he’s accepted and I always wish the best for him.”
Signing Irving would be a significant upgrade for a Lakers team that was among the biggest disappointments in the league and failed to reach the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. The six-time All-Star is accustomed to performing under postseason pressure, knows what it takes to thrive alongside James and would make Lonzo Ball—who has dealt with injuries in each of his first two seasons—less important.
While this is just a reported willingness to meet, it could be the next step toward a James and Irving reunion in the Western Conference.