"“That would be amazing. That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”"
Obviously any team in the NBA would want Davis, but the fact that LeBron is speaking out publicly is big. It’s worth noting the 25-year-old Davis and James share an agent. Both players are represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports and the Lakers appear to have a great relationship with Paul. LeBron and Davis also won a gold medal together as part of Team USA at the 2012 Olympics.
Davis is under contract with the New Orleans Pelicans through next season (for $27.1 million) and has a player option for the 2020-21 season (for $28.8 million). He’s certain to opt out of his deal during the summer of 2020, which means the Pelicans could look to move him between now and the 2019 trade deadline.
New Orleans is currently floundering at 15-16 while sitting outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference. They travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Friday.
Davis is currently averaging 28.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.7 steals in 37.0 minutes per game. His PER of 29.80 is currently the best in the NBA.
The issue for the Lakers would be what to give up. While it would be easy to say, “trade everything for AD” things are more complicated than that. The Lakers have a lot of young players on cheap contracts who are under control for several years. If they’re going to build a long-term contender, they need guys like that on the roster. Given the NBA’s salary structure and cap restraints, cheap, young contributors are insanely valuable.
Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart are all key members of the roster who are 23 or younger. Are they finished products? No, but each of them have flashed fantastic long-term potential. Unloading three or more of those guys in a trade would be foolish roster management.
Obviously the Lakers would need to part with important pieces to land a guy like Davis, but they have to be smart about it. The franchise got burned by giving up a ton of assets for Dwight Howard, who opted out of his contract and left town after just one season. That deal helped bury the franchise and Jeanie Buss and co. can’t let it happen again.
The Lakers should obviously inquire on the price for Davis, but if he truly wants to be in LA, he could come via free agency in 2020 anyway. Still, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka need continue to monitor the situation. They should only jump if what they have to surrender is palatable.
LeBron clearly wants it to happen, but the Lakers shouldn’t force a deal for Davis unless the price is right.