NBA

LeBron James makes return to competitive basketball at the Drew League; Kyrie Irving fails to show up

By Sports Desk July 17, 2022

LeBron James showed no rust on Saturday in his return to competitive basketball at the Drew League, while former team-mate Kyrie Irving was a no-show after being expected to take the court. 

James had 42 points, 16 rebounds and four steals while teaming with Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan at the Drew League, a pro-am event held every summer in the Los Angeles area. 

It was James' first action since missing seven of the Los Angeles Lakers' final eight games due to a sprained ankle. James appeared in just 56 games in 2021-22 as he dealt with ankle, knee and abdominal injuries. 

However, he managed to average 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists for a Lakers team that missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record. 

"I'm 100 percent healthy," James told ESPN on Saturday in his first appearance at the Drew League since 2011. 

Irving, meanwhile, was expected to play in the event but instead attended a camp hosted by Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy. 

"They were pretty sure he was coming," Drew League Commissioner Dino Smiley told NBA.com of Irving's representatives. "But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it."

James and Irving won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and rumours have been swirling that they could be reunited in Los Angeles. 

Irving recently exercised his $36.5million player option for next season with the Brooklyn Nets, but with Kevin Durant requesting a trade out of Brooklyn, the Nets could be looking to move Irving as well. 

ESPN has reported that the Nets and Lakers have been in talks about a deal that would send Irving to Los Angeles and Russell Westbrook to Brooklyn. 

"In order to get great talent, you have to give up a lot of great talent and value in draft picks," Lakers president Jeanie Buss told NBA.com. "Every team is sophisticated and smart. Nobody is just asleep at the wheel. 

"Everybody is just trying to make their team better. Some teams are pivoting from a path they were on and want to deal because they have players that don't fit what their plans are. So it's a fluid situation. You always have to stay on top of it."

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