There has been some breaking news in the NBA today! Early Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared a tweet revealing that New Orleans Pelicans star forward Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the team and “has no intention of signing a contract extension.” The Lakers, among almost every team in the league, will undoubtedly pursue a deal for the 25-year old big.
Davis, coming off an All-NBA First Team honor last year, has been linked to the Lakers for a while now, as he and Lakers forward LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul. Whether Davis has clear interest in the Lakers or not has yet to be seen, but the hiring of Paul in the offseason has led some to believe he has his sights on a pairing with James in LA.
The Lakers do have the assets to make a splash via trade this season. By signing all free agents other than James to one-year deals this offseason, the Lakers are in position to make some trades at the February 7th trade deadline.
The most likely player to be traded is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who the Lakers signed to a one-year, 12 million dollar deal last offseason. Reports came out earlier this year that the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets could be potential suitors of KCP, as both are looking for added three-point shooting. Keep an eye out for these teams in possible three-team trade scenarios.
Though KCP is an interesting trade candidate, the Pelicans will be wanting a much larger haul for Davis. As Brad Turner of the L.A. Times reported earlier, the Pelicans would want Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and a first round draft pick to even consider moving Davis to LA. If this deal were to go down, the Lakers would lose almost all of their young players. They could also include Brandon Ingram and/or Josh Hart in a deal, and that seems likely. Just because the Pelicans want Ball and Kuzma, that doesn’t mean the others will stay on the roster. Some could be shipped off as other teams try to join in and even out salaries.
The big question is if the Lakers are willing to go all-in for Davis. Should the Lakers give up the young core for him? Yes. Though this would surely decrease their depth, when an All-NBA player is available and you have the chance to pair him with another star, you do it. They did have a chance to acquire a star player recently when, two years ago, Paul George wanted to become a Laker, they low-balled and didn’t give their best offer. Since the Pacers were forced to look elsewhere, he found a home with the Thunder and signed a four year deal this summer (he will also start in the all-star game this year). Their most recent attempt at a star was with Kawhi Leonard, and we will know in a few months if they played that the way they should have.
The Lakers have drafted very well in the last few seasons and have rarely missed on their draft picks. This is evident, as even former second round draft pick Ivica Zubac is now considered to have trade value. Though the Lakers haven’t drafted a player that looks like a sure-fire star yet, all of their picks look like they at least belong in the league. The only player I would have a difficult time getting rid of is second year guard Lonzo Ball. Lonzo has played defense as good as anyone at his position this year, and he is still just 21 years old. If Lonzo ever develops a consistent jump shot, he could be a perennial all-star. Though Kuzma and Ingram have the more refined offensive game, Lonzo has a transcendent passing ability and would be the perfect guard for a team with elite scorers like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Whether the Pelicans will trade Davis in the summer or at the upcoming trade deadline is yet to be seen, but we will have the answers soon. Be prepared for an exciting 10 days!