LeBron James says he’s quickly shifting his focus to the Los Angeles Lakers in lieu of the trade deadline after Kyrie Irving, his former teammate with whom he won a championship in 2016, was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for the Brooklyn Nets. .
But he can’t lie either.
«Oh, definitely disappointed,» he told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon during an interview following the successful trade that ended a tumultuous tenure with Brooklyn over the past four seasons. «I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed that I’m not about to get this much talent. Someone I had great chemistry with and I know I have great chemistry on the court that can help you win championships, in my mind. But my focus has changed now. My focus has gone back to where it should be and that’s this club now and what we have in the dressing room.»
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The Lakers were rumored to be the favorites to sign Irving, reuniting him with James to potentially recapture that magic they had with the Cleveland Cavaliers when the Akron boy returned home, leading to the franchise’s only title. Los Angeles is looking for an All-Star they can add to the starting lineup, as James & Co. certainly don’t want to miss out on the playoffs for the second straight season.
However, James isn’t worried about what his team does at the deadline now (at least not publicly). He believes the Lakers have what it takes to make the playoffs, and even make a run if they stay healthy.
LEBRON JAMES FIRES A 3-WORD TWEET AFTER THE NETS TRADED KYRIE IRVING TO THE MAVERICKS INSTEAD OF THE LAKERS
«I don’t get too excited about the possibilities of things that can be,» James explained after Wilbon was surprised that he was moving so quickly. «I imagine myself in what can [be], but I don’t reverse all the way until I know what’s going on. When it doesn’t, I focus back on the job at hand. We had a chance. Our name was there, the Lakers name was there. We had an opportunity, it didn’t happen and we finished this season strong. Try to get a postseason bid where I feel like we go in healthy, we can compete with anyone.»
The Lakers were reportedly Irving’s preferred destination, but another report indicated that one of the owners of the Nets Joe Tsai’s «alleged targets» It was not meeting that request for the polarizing outfitter. So trading with the Lakers, unless the package blew them away, was not in the cards.
Instead, he and general manager Sean Marks signed a deal involving Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a future first-round pick, and two second-round picks. It was reported Monday that Brooklyn was also looking at a potential third team to trade.
However, Los Angeles reportedly sent an offer to Brooklyn for evaluation. Russell Westbrook teaming with Kevin Durant again was the starter for the package that also includes first-round picks in 2027 and 2029.
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But the Nets fired back, reportedly asking for younger players, like Austin Reaves and Max Christie, and more pick trades, according to The Athletic.
And if a deal were to be made, the Lakers wanted a guarantee that Irving would sign a two-year extension, given that his contract expires at the end of the year.
The Phoenix Suns were also possible suitors, offering perennial All-Stars Chris Paul and Jae Crowder along with draft picks, according to Bleacher Report.
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Either way, Irving begins his new journey with Luka Doncic and the Mavs, while James will have to watch them two more times this regular season, the first time on February 26.