Anthony Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans on Monday morning. His demand came as no surprise as New Orleans has no real chance of contending anytime soon. The Lakers, Celtics, and Knicks have been the teams surrounding a Davis deal since the news broke. All three teams have pretty similar trade packages to offer. They all have young assets and draft picks to throw into a potential deal. But the Lakers have clear leverage as it was reported shortly after the trade request that his agent Rich Paul would announce that the Lakers are Davis’s preferred destination. He would essentially be a “rental” for any other team that trades for him until he becomes a free agent in 2020 and inevitably signs with the Lakers.
The Lakers need to act fast if they want to snag Anthony Davis. We’ve seen this situation before, where players have been open about wanting to come to play for the Lakers and eventually end up happy somewhere else because LA played the waiting game. We saw this with Paul George. We saw this with Kawhi Leonard. We might see it again with Anthony Davis if the Lakers don’t acquire him before the February 7th Trade Deadline. Other teams have the assets to make an intriguing offer. There have been reports that the Celtics would not mind trading assets and their plethora of 1st round picks just to get a shot at resigning Davis. The Knicks also have some young assets and draft picks that could be enticing to the Pelicans. Players such as Kevin Knox, Alonzo Trier, and Mitchell Robinson Jr. could be included in a Knicks package. Young prospects that could be a big part in the Pelicans future. The Bulls, Clippers, and Raptors also have the capability of putting together a solid trade package if they’re willing to give up a good chunk of their core. There is no doubt that LA has some tough competition.
For the Lakers, the timing of Davis’s trade request was exquisite. The Celtics cannot make a trade for Davis before the deadline with Kyrie Irving still on the roster due to the “Rose Rule”. The “Rose Rule” is an extension for players who are still on their rookie contract but exceed their value. The extension allows the player to make up to 30% of their team’s salary cap if they have twice been voted an All-Star starter, All-NBA player or won an MVP while still on their rookie deal. Both Kyrie and Davis are on a “Rose Rule” extension and the NBA prohibits teams from trading for two players who are signed to a said extension and the Celtics already traded for Kyrie back in 2017. This gives LA a huge advantage. They need to learn from their past mistakes and act now. LeBron is 34 years old playing in his 16th season. Their championship window is small. Adding 25-year-old Anthony Davis would be essential to capitalizing on that window as well as benefiting future of the Lakers, even if it means scrapping the young core they built.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that in order to trade for Davis, the Lakers have to “start” with a package of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and a 1st round pick. This package would likely have to increase a little bit more due to a possible bidding war between the Lakers and whoever else gets aggressive in pursuing “The Brow”. If the Lakers can come out of the deal without having to give up either Brandon Ingram, Lonzo or Kuzma, it would be an absolute steal. A starting lineup consisting of Rajon Rondo, Josh Hart, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee could make some noise as contenders in the West. This team was the 3rd seed in the West before LeBron suffered a groin injury that has sidelined him since Christmas. Combing the best player in the league with Anthony Davis, who is widely regarded as a top 5 player, would be absolutely lethal.
It wouldn’t be hard for the Lakers to surround this duo with a solid supporting cast at the trade deadline or during the off-season. Role players such as Terrence Ross, Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza are all potential trade targets for the Lakers before the deadline. There have even been reports that Warriors guard Klay Thompson would be interested in joining the Lakers as a free agent this coming summer if they land Davis. If not Klay, then 5-time All-Star Kyrie Irving could be interested in joining forces with LeBron once more in LA as his name has been added into the rumor melting pot recently. Maybe the two-way star Kawhi Leonard would want to jump ship and live his dream of playing under the bright lights of Staples Center. Of course, they can’t add all of these stars but even adding just one of these players to a nucleus of LeBron and Davis would mean championships galore for Hollywood.
Nevertheless, none of this will happen if the Lakers don’t strike now and put their best foot forward before other teams become players for the superstar big man. They have the trade pieces, they have a luxurious atmosphere, and they have the best player in the world along with his agent.
The stars are aligning. The time is now for the Lakers.