Livescore Friday, April 12

The Athletic’s Shams Charania broke news on Monday that Kyrie Irving had reached out to LeBron James to see if the Lakers star would join the Mavericks. This predictably prompted a flurry of speculation but understated how difficult this situation would be to pull off. 

There are a ton of reasons why a LeBron-to-Dallas scenario would be virtually impossible to occur. Here are some of the top ones. 

Four reasons why LeBron James to the Mavericks (probably) isn’t happening

LeBron is still under contract with the Lakers

James recently signed a two-year extension with the Lakers that pays him $46.9 million in 2023-24 and gives him a player option for $50.7 million in 2024-25.

Simply put, he can’t move teams without the help of his current team. And why would the Lakers want to trade him to the Mavericks?

The Mavericks don’t have nearly enough value to trade for LeBron

The Mavericks could theoretically trade for James’ contract. The problem is that they already gave up a huge chunk of their assets to trade for Irving last season. That haul included most of their useful role players, a 2029 first-round pick and their two remaining second-round picks. They don’t have enough left to interest the Lakers.

As far as draft assets go, the Mavericks can now only trade their 2027 first-round pick and the No. 10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft after they make that selection.

When considering the four first-round picks that other lesser players have gotten in the past year, two first-round picks for James is a ridiculously low price that a ton of other teams could surpass. The Mavericks do have some promising young players like Jaden Hardy and Josh Green that they could add in, but that is still nowhere near fair value for James. 

The Mavericks would also have to offload a ton of salary in order to make a James trade work. That could take even more draft assets to facilitate, which they don’t have. They could trade that salary filler straight to the Lakers, but why would the Lakers want players like Davis Bertans or Tim Hardaway Jr. in exchange for James, who was still good enough to make an All-NBA Team last season?

MORE: Inside LeBron James’ relationships with Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic

A buyout scenario for LeBron is pure fantasy

Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes wrote that “the easiest—and unlikeliest—path to adding James this offseason would be for him to orchestrate a buyout.”

While technically possible, that path has less of a shot of occurring than I do of joining the Lakers.

For a buyout to work, the Lakers would have to place James on waivers and hope that no other team would claim him. Spoiler alert: Every team in the league would want to pick up James’ contract for free if they had an opportunity.

Teams do need cap space in order to place a waiver claim on James, but there are plenty of teams that have that space. There is absolutely nothing preventing a team like the Rockets from pouncing on the opportunity to get James off waivers, at which point he would be on their roster on his current $97.6 million deal over the next two seasons. 

There is no reason why LeBron would want to play in Dallas

The Mavericks were a bit of a mess last year, failing to even make the Play-In Tournament. Meanwhile, the Lakers made the Western Conference Finals. If James’ goal is to win, then he’s already in a place where he’s closer to that goal. 

The Mavericks would also be in salary cap hell if they added James to a core of Luka Doncic and Irving. It would be exceedingly difficult under the new collective bargaining agreement to fill out that roster.

James’ son Bronny recently committed to play college basketball at USC. The James family seems very comfortable in Los Angeles. He has no ties to the Dallas area, so it seems farfetched to believe that he would be willing to move there.

There does seem to be legitimate interest in James and Irving playing together. James expressed disappointment at last season’s trade deadline that the Lakers couldn’t pull off a move to get Irving. But bringing James to Dallas would be unrealistic for many different reasons.

The reverse — getting Irving as a free agent to Los Angeles — is still unlikely but at least possible. 

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