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Kyrie and LeBron on Lakers? We should've seen it coming: Picard - Metro US

Kyrie and LeBron on Lakers? We should’ve seen it coming: Picard

Kyrie Irving. (Photo: Getty Images)

It would be a script that’s only meant for Hollywood.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James reuniting. Not in an Uncle Drew sequel, but in real life, in Los Angeles, with the Lakers.

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported on Tuesday, “a source close to the Celtics confirmed that Kyrie Irving is genuinely interested in reuniting with his former Cavaliers teammate.”

Bucher’s source said, “That is for real.”

Well then, that’s quite the bombshell. Or is it?

Regardless of what you’ve believed over the last few years, Irving and James have continuously been linked in the NBA rumor mill since they both escaped Cleveland after a very successful run that included an NBA championship in 2016.

Irving left the Cavaliers one year before James did. Their departing situations were different — Irving was traded in the summer of 2017, and James left as a free agent in the summer of 2018 — but their motives seemed to be the same: Get me out of Cleveland.

The Celtics acquired Irving in a trade after Irving demanded one. The Lakers acquired James by signing him to a four-year, $154 million contract. And the Cavaliers were left in the dust.

Now, as we approach the 2019 NBA trade deadline next Thursday, Feb. 7, all eyes are once again on the Celtics and the Lakers, after Anthony Davis requested a trade out of New Orleans earlier this week. LA and New York are reported to be the two most aggressive suitors for Davis before the deadline, while Boston has to wait until the offseason to try and trade for Davis, unless they add Irving to the deal or get Irving to sign a new contract extension right now, thanks to the “Rose Rule” that does not allow two players under rookie max extensions to be acquired by the same team via trade.

But Bucher’s report that Irving is “genuinely interested” in joining James in LA when he becomes a free agent this summer suddenly makes things a lot more interesting for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

How so? Well, if Irving isn’t committed to the Celtics long term, why should Ainge be committed to Irving before Thursday’s trade deadline, especially when Davis is available? 

In a perfect world, the Celtics would sign Irving to a new deal right now and trade for Davis. But on this here NBA fantasy island, it’s LeBron’s world, and Ainge might have no choice but to watch Irving and Davis force their way to Los Angeles.

If that happens, we shouldn’t be shocked. Because it will mean that the script was written back in the summer of 2017 when Irving demanded a trade out of Cleveland.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst — who has basically played the role of James’ unofficial spokesperson over the years — broke the news of Irving’s initial trade demand, saying Irving “no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.” Windhorst also wrote in the same report that “James was blindsided and disappointed.”

Fast-forward to the beginning of this season, James did an exclusive interview with The Athletic, in which he described the Irving trade as “the beginning of the end for everything” in Cleveland.

Seems like something you’d take personal if you’re James. You might even hold a grudge. Yet, amidst rumors that Irving and James despised each other, they didn’t seem to show it after the two regular-season games the Celtics and Cavs played last season. Daps, hugs, smiles, words of encouragement, both postgame embraces had it all. Not necessarily the actions of two guys who can’t stand each other.

And just a few weeks ago, Irving, out of nowhere, told the media — after the Celtics’ biggest win of the season — that he called James to “apologize” for being tough to deal with as a young player in Cleveland. It was Irving’s way of once again publicly acknowledging that his current Celtics team was dealing with some issues of youth and inexperience, but also his way of letting the basketball world know that their relationship isn’t as salty as everyone had previously suggested.

And now we get the Bucher report, that says Irving’s interest in reuniting with James is “for real.”

I believe it. I also believe that Irving and James never really disliked each other at all. I’ve always believed there was another reason Irving wanted out of Cleveland. And if he actually does join James in Los Angeles this summer as a free agent, I’ll most definitely believe it was the plan all along.

I imagine the original conversation in 2017 would’ve gone something like this: “Demand a trade out of Cleveland right now,” James probably said. “Blame it on me. Then, when you’re gone, I’ll have an excuse to leave. And I’ll see you in LA.”

Perhaps we should’ve seen this coming.

Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” on PodcastOne, iTunes, and Spotify. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard. Subscribe to YouTube.com/DannyPicard.

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