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Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ future is the biggest question looming over the organization, even in light of their coaching search after firing Darvin Ham.

Whether or not James returns could influence the kind of coach they pursue.

James said he is taking a step back to discuss his future with his circle before announcing anything. But the Lakers are all-in on keeping him satiated. He can decline the $51.4 million option on his two-year, $99 million contract and become a free agent this offseason.

Finding him some help in the backcourt could be the best way to keep the peace. James has been fond of one former teammate’s play this postseason, Dallas Mavericks star Kyrie Irving.

James sent a message to Irving after the potential Lakers trade target’s latest showing.

“KY STOP IT!!!!! OMG,” James posted on X on May 3 during Game 6 of the Mavs’ opening-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Irving shook off a 1-for-6 first half to score 28 points after the break, finishing with a game-high 30 points in the series-deciding victory.  It’s not the first reaction James has had to Irving this offseason.

He also marveled at the guard’s showing in Game 5. Fans flocked to the replies to suggest James join Irving in Dallas. Others suggested it should be the other way around.

Irving pushed for a trade to the Lakers at one point before last offseason.

“He was … about to become a free agent, and according to sources close to him, Irving had a strong interest in reuniting with James — the man he’d won an NBA championship with as Cavaliers back in 2016 — either in Los Angeles or Dallas,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne wrote on January 17.”

The Lakers discussed adding Irving in different ways for over one year, Shelburne reported.

“James was open to the idea, sources said, but careful not to do anything that would be seen as a push,” Shelburne wrote.

After this past season went awry under Ham, James could eschew his previous concerns and push for his former teammate. The duo did help bring the Cavaliers their first championship. This hypothetical package would satisfy league rules.

Irving is set to make $40  million next season in Year 2 of his three-year, $120 million contract signed last summer. This hypothetical would require Russell to pick up his $18 million player option in the second year of a two-year, $36 million contract, which could prove tricky.

“When I signed my contract last year, I knew what position I was going to put myself in, so to be in that position now with a little leverage, I’ll try to take advantage of it.” D’Angelo Russell on his future.

Hachimura is going into Year 2 of a three-year, $51 million deal while Hood-Schifino, the No. 17 overall pick in the 2023 draft, is in Year 2 of his four-year, $17.9 million pact.

“The Lakers plan to use the three picks that they will have available this summer … to pursue a star via trade,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote on February 9. “Three potential targets are Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young and Kyrie Irving, according to team and league sources. The Athletic has previously reported on the franchise’s interest in Young and Irving.”

Irving is at peace in Dallas, though. And his strong play this postseason – which has garnered praise from teammate Luka Doncic – won’t make him more expendable.

How far the Mavericks make it in the postseason could determine if they even listen to the Lakers this summer. And after the issues the Lakers had drumming up a trade ahead of the deadline, landing Irving won’t be any easier.

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