The Los Angeles Lakers were far more motivated to sign Kyrie Irving as a free agent than they were in acquiring him via trade, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Lakers could only sign Irving to a $6.5 million contract if he would have become a free agent. For the Lakers to acquire Irving via trade, they would have had to attach significant draft compensation.
Irving's decision to return to the Brooklyn Nets on his opt-in crystalized as he went through his opt-in-and-trade options as well as the free agency path with the Lakers.
The Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks are the only teams with cap space this offseason to sign Irving and that group has prioritized other options.