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Lakers: With Kyrie Irving Gone, LA Should Join Kevin Durant Trade Sweepstakes

To quote Russell Westbrook, "Why not?"

Your Los Angeles Lakers may still be frustrated after missing out on a major possible roster upgrade via trade, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't still be actively pursuing other ways to improve the club.

All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is off the trade board for now, having been shipped to the Dallas Mavericks by the Brooklyn Nets, in exchange for two solid role players (Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith) and future draft compensation (an unprotected 2029 first round pick and a future second). The Lakers were reported to have been in hot pursuit to reunite their All-Star power forward, LeBron James, with his former Cleveland Cavaliers running mate.

But it's time to look elsewhere, and to think big. I'm not talking about what, in my opinion, would be the second-best deal out there, a trade for three good Raptors role players. 

I'm talking about Kevin Freaking Durant.

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reveals that at least one team, the Phoenix Suns, is hoping to get the chance to pursue the All-Star Nets forward that Irving just abandoned.

Today on "First Take," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed that at least one other club, LA's least favorite other club in fact, was also considering making a major move for Durant's services.

"By the way, I'm hearing that he's on the verge of potentially being moved," Smith said. "Obviously we've all been speculating about that, that he may be moved. They're on the phone, I'm hearing Boston is making some calls. Keep your eye on that -- Jaylen Brown [in a package for Durant], keep your eye on that."

When it comes to adding high-ceiling young All-Stars with room left to grow on team-friendly contracts, the Lakers can't match Jaylen Brown. But they do have an All-Star in his prime who, when healthy, is better than Jaylen Brown.

That's right, I'm talking about shipping out Anthony Davis and his injury-prone lower body.

It may need to happen this summer, given that the Lakers will then have at least three first round draft picks to ship out -- in addition to LA's 2027 and 2029 firsts, the team will also be able to move the worse pick between the Lakers' 2023 first rounder and the Pelicans' 2023 first (New Orleans gets the better pick, as a condition of the Anthony Davis trade).

Durant is a better player than Davis, yes, but he's also five years older, and even more injury-prone. Davis when healthy is a spectacular talent, and could certainly be the centerpiece of an invested franchise. A Durant-James pairing, for however long that dynamic duo could hold up, would be pretty darn fascinating to watch. Like Davis, Durant is a terrific and versatile defender, and could help clean up a lot of LBJ's lapses on that end of the floor. 

Across his 39 healthy games this year, the 34-year-old superstar is averaging 29.7 points on insanely elite .559/.376/.934 shooting splits, 6.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.5 blocks a night. Brooklyn has gone 27-12 with Durant available.

What would it take to pry Durant loose? Surely the Nets couldn't turn down the present promise of Davis, especially when combined with three unprotected or lightly protected future first round draft picks?

On the Lakers side of the question, Los Angeles would immediately vault into the West's elite again, especially since the club would also be able to sign complimentary talent (three-point shooters and perimeter defenders, ideally) in free agency this summer, once the expiring contracts of Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley come off its books.