Philadelphia 76ers: Don’t outbid the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyrie Irving

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

If the Philadelphia 76ers want to throw their entire asset pool – save Joel Embiid – at the Brooklyn Nets in the pursuit of their disgruntled multi-time All-Star, then they should.

Send them Tyrese Maxey, send them Matisse Thybulle, send them Paul Reed, Jaden Springer, any player they can, plus Tobias Harris and their unprotected 2029 first round pick, and if the Nets say yes, then heck yes, a trio of Embiid, James Harden, and Kevin Durant should pretty much be able to beat anyone so no worries.

… what? The Sixers aren’t considered a realistic trade target for Durant, and they are instead being linked with increasing fervor to Kyrie Irving?

Hmm… okay then; Irving is a really good player, and people with that surname – even if it’s spelled differently – have had great success in the City of Brotherly Love – if the Nets are willing to take on a package of, say, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle – who can be flipped for assets or kept – for his services then why not? If, however, the Los Angeles Lakers get in on the action and attempt to start a bidding war, the Philadelphia 76ers need to bow out, as they could probably best any offer Rob Pelinka has to offer, but doing so would be incredibly risky.

Philadelphia 76ers need to properly value their war chest of assets.

After attempting to pass off their signature draft package, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and a 2027 first round pick for what feels like forever – with Russell Westbrook occasionally thrown in for good measure – the Los Angeles Lakers have actually improved their moveable assets by a good margin thanks to the Stephen Rule.

That’s right, with the 2022 NBA Draft officially passed, the Lakers can now include their 2029 first round picks in future deals, which could entice a team who knows definitively that LeBron James won’t be playing in his mid-40s. Attach them to Westbrook to bring back a more compatible player on a $30-plus million deal – Tobias Harris and Gordon Hayward come to mind – pair them with THT and Nunn for a high-end role player like Buddy Hield, or take a shot at the riskiest trade target on the NBA, Kyrie Irving, and hope that things end better than in Boston or Brooklyn.

Now granted, if the Philadelphia 76ers decided they wanted to bid for Irving too, as he did have the team on his list before opting into his contract, they could outdo even the best package the Lakers have to offer, as Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and Tobias Harris plus a 2029 first beats Westbrook, auxiliary players, a 2027 first and a 2029 first any day of the week, but there’s a reason for that: Maxey is one of the most valuable young performers in the NBA.

Call me a homer, call me unrealistic, but if Maxey’s remaining contract were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, there’s no way the final price would be less than two unprotected first round picks from a playoff team. Even if the Lakers might end up being very bad by 2029, Maxey would somehow only be 28 when that year arrives and could be a focal point player for a fully rebuilt team a la Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in OKC.

Unless it’s for Kevin Durant, Maxey is already too good to be given away for a 30-year-old point guard who currently has the lowest trade value of his career, especially with everything else that would need to be included in a deal.

Next. Patrick Beverley is suddenly a trade target. dark

If the Philadelphia 76ers can trade for Kyrie Irving without trading Tyrese Maxey, then they should. The team has enough depth at power forward/defense to move off of Tobias Harris/Matisse Thybulle without an issue and could make the on-court fit work even if things are a tad redundant. If, however, Maxey has to be included in a deal to get it done, then the answer should be a resounding no, as he’ll still be on the court long after Irving retires and could remain a fixture of South Philly well into the 2030s.