1. Signing Kyrie Irving mortgages Lakers future
Lastly, the final hurdle would be the Lakers' front office trading their competitive future for a pie-in-the-sky chance at winning a title next season.
It would be hard to imagine LeBron James still playing three years from now. James would be in his 40s, and he is already starting to show signs of aging, although his per-game numbers are still fantastic. We've already mentioned the number of games he's missed over the last three seasons due to injury or load management, and there were times in the playoffs when it was evident he didn't have the energy in his legs to dominate consistently the way he has for the better part of the last two decades.
Both Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving would be 33 years old, and it is doubtful they would be playing at the same level they are now, especially given Davis's respective injury history.
In a sign and trade with the Mavericks, Dallas would almost assuredly ask for the 17th pick in this year's draft and possibly an additional first-round pick down the road. The Lakers already owe their 2024 or 2025 first-round pick to the Pelicans (New Orleans has the option of selecting which one they want), and their 2027 first-round pick to the Jazz (Top-four protected).
Even if Dallas doesn't ask for a future first-rounder, the next pick the Lakers would be guaranteed to have available for trade after James retires (assumingly after the 2024-2025 season) would be their 2029 first-round pick.
That means a rebuild would have to be done via the free-agent market. Even though the Lakers have arguably more success in that realm than any other NBA team, that puts a lot of pressure on the front office to not miss at all, or risk spending a decent amount of time at the bottom of the league. Historically, the Lakers don't like wading in those waters for very long.
What if Kyrie does not attempt to maximize his earnings?