The Los Angeles Lakers' no-good, very bad season will be coming to an end in a few weeks. Whether it be by means of missing the playoffs entirely, in the play-in tournament, or at the hands of a juggernaut first-round opponent, the Lakers will be on vacation sooner rather than later.
Just about everything went wrong for the purple and gold this year. Many, many hours of sports talk television, radio, and writing have been spent on exactly how it all unfolded. Aside from Russell Westbrook, the main perpetrator was injuries. LeBron James missing time early in the year threw everybody off. Then Anthony Davis got hurt before the All-Star Break and has yet to return. He probably will not at this point.
Los Angeles has a lot of work to do to fix the roster and make it championship-worthy once more this offseason. The first obvious step is finding a way to ditch Westbrook and his immense contract for next season. The next step is not so obvious. Brian Windhorst, speaking on Get Up yesterday, said he thinks the Lakers will have discussions about trading AD.
Having discussions about it is a long way from pulling the trigger. But if the Lakers want to reshape their roster entirely around LeBron as he enters his age-38 season, a Davis trade is the only path to doing so.
If the Lakers actually put Davis on the block, where could he end up? Here are three possible destinations.
New York Knicks
The Knicks, even with their new management that appears smarter than the previous recent iterations, are always on the hunt for a superstar. They have a collection of pieces that would fit well next to LeBron on the court next year and will probably have a lottery pick in this year's draft, albeit not a very good one. Julius Randle would definitely be on his way out, and there is reason to wonder if the Lakers want to ride that train again, but Davis is exactly the type of player New York pursues when they hit the open market.
The Heat have a collection of large contracts that would make a Davis trade fairly simple. The question is if it would be worth it. Having AD line up next to Bam Adebayo would make for some tough spacing but also give Miami an even more suffocating defense than they already boast. LeBron would probably love Jimmy Butler's particular style of insanity and adding one of the Heat's deadly shooters would go a long way towards fixing LA's own spacing issues. It's an awkward fit with Adebayo on the roster but Pat Riley has made a habit of collecting the talent and trusting Eric Spoelstra to figure it out later.
It is hard to win an NBA championship with less than three stars. Danny Ainge knew that and it explains his constant pursuit of superstar-caliber players after the Big 3 days. He failed to land AD once before, and Davis' father probably burned bridges there when he stated outright that Davis has no interest in Boston. But time heals all wounds, and Brad Stevens is in charge now. The Celtics have an intriguing collection of young talent and middle-sized contracts to make a deal work. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would get a dominant big-man running mate with championship experience. The Lakers can reload with the likes of Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and other pieces. It isn't the best trade for AD on the market and it would mean giving the dreaded Celtics an All-Star player. But options are relatively limited for the Lakers if they don't want to give Davis to a Western Conference contender, and Boston can offer a solid return of role players who mesh perfectly with what LeBron can do.