Nothing gets quite the buzz that NBA free agency generates. Every minor detail and breaking story drives fanbases up the walls or to the trade machine. Today was a prime example of that free agency frenzy. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Brooklyn Nets front office and Kyrie Irving are at an “impasse” regarding his future. The article stated that potential suitors including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and LA Clippers are emerging candidates. Although they already have a talented roster, the Clippers should pursue Irving.
Clippers Should Pursue Kyrie Irving
The LA Clippers are perennial championship favorites coming into the 2022-23 season. There are numerous reasons to look up if you are a Clipper fan. Franchise star Kawhi Leonard is returning from his ACL injury. His running mate Paul George is already prepping for next year, while some players haven’t even picked up a basketball (wink wink). In addition, the team reloaded by acquiring Norman Powell and Robert Covington from Portland.
Although the Clippers’ depth and coaching make them title contenders, the league is still open. The Golden State Warriors are likely a threat to repeat and the Boston Celtics will have a chip on their shoulder after this year’s Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks will get Khris Middleton back and the Denver Nuggets will get Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. as well. There is no clear-cut favorite, which makes pursuing a title even more difficult.
That brings in Irving. A complicated man who draws plenty of attention, good and bad. While his vaccination status and departures from the team are certainly concerns, his on-court play isn’t. One of the most talented and skilled players to ever play, Irving can bring the Clippers an additional elite playmaking threat. Irving can score at all three levels with ease. He also has one of the greatest handles in the league and phenomenal finishing ability at the rim.
Leonard and George have battled injuries throughout their careers and Clippers’ tenures. With Leonard coming off a severe injury and the intent to protect George, bringing in another star in Irving can help mitigate absences. An embarrassment of riches of shotmaking can only give the Clippers upside in making a potential move. But what move is possible?
Well, thanks to the Clippers’ front office, the team has a number of players making between $12M-18M. Therefore, any two or three of Powell, Marcus Morris Sr., Luke Kennard, and Reggie Jackson can satisfy the salary demands to match Irving’s contract. An acquisition would require the All-NBA point guard to opt in for the Clippers to facilitate a trade. They can also dangle third-year guard Terance Mann and second-year guard Brandon Boston Jr.
Salaries and young talent are plenty to offer Brooklyn. But draft capital is where the Clippers may lack compared to other teams. They likely would only offer their 2028 first-round pick, but it’s worth it.
My pick: I would make the offer of Powell, Morris, Boston Jr., the 2028 first-round pick, and the 2022 second-round pick.
It’s not often a player of Irving’s caliber is made available without sacrificing core stars. Irving is a special talent that not only elevates the Clippers’ championship ceiling, but he brings experience as the only player on the roster to reach the pinnacle besides Leonard. Additionally, Irving gets to reunite with his former coach Ty Lue, whom he won a championship with, in 2016.
Lue has created a healthy and inclusive culture with the team. Perhaps he can be the one that connects with Irving and get him to be an integral piece of the Clippers’ pursuit of their first title.