After LeBron James decided to sign with them, the Los Angeles Lakers immediately became one of the most relevant teams in the NBA landscape. LeBron brings championship-or-bust expectations wherever he goes, and the Lakers are no different. Despite still being in the middle of an organizational rebuild, the addition of LeBron means that the Lakers are now expected to contend – and that may lead to certain players being moved.
The Lakers have a high degree of roster flexibility, thanks in large part to the several one-year deals they signed players to this offseason. Players like Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo can all be included in the right package due to their inexpensive, low risk contracts.
The Lakers also have several young players to put into a potential trade package. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart are all assets the team can send away, perhaps in an effort to bring another proven star to pair with LeBron.
Los Angeles is currently among the playoff teams in the Western conference, so they may want to stand pat in the trade market. However, things can change, especially since the separation between the best and worst team in the conference is only eleven games.
If things go south, here are three trades the Lakers could make at or before the deadline.
The Wizards have been nothing short of a disaster this season, and many around the league have come to the consensus that it may be time to cut their losses and look to the future. Washington may not be able to put it together as a team, but they do have a lot of players with great individual talent. Bradley Beal could help the Lakers solve a lot of their issues, particularly when it comes to scoring and outside shooting.
As the roster is currently constituted, the Lakers don’t have a true three point threat, nor do they have a reliable volume scorer. Beal is one of the better shooters and scorers in the NBA, and his All Star talent could take the Lakers to the next level.
Of course, acquiring Beal will come at no small cost. The Lakers will likely need to give up at least one of the trio of Ball, Hart and Ingram in order to make it happen. If the Lakers determine the benefits are greater than the cost, this trade could very well happen.
Walker has been on a tear this season, but unfortunately, his efforts have been wasted on a mediocre-at-best Hornets team. In the final year of his deal, Walker deserves a chance to prove his worth on a bigger stage – and possibly contend for a title.
Kemba has been at the forefront of trade rumors for the past several years, and even came close to playing with LeBron last year. The Cavaliers had their eye on Walker at the trade deadline, hoping to give James another playmaker to support him in the absence of Kyrie Irving.
James and Walker would likely work well together as teammates, since Walker is more of a scoring guard and James prefers to facilitate. If Walker’s performance this season is any indication (he’s the only player this season to record a 60 point game), he would be a valuable addition to the Lakers.
The most likely trade package for Walker would include both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, which would be a hefty price. Both players are still young, and both have a great deal of potential. Still, when a player like Walker is available, sacrifices may need to be made to bring him in.
This is the least likely trade to happen, but it would be the move with the most impact. Bringing in Davis would transform the Lakers overnight, from simply a playoff team to a team firmly in the hunt for a title. Of course, getting Davis on the Lakers would mean that the team would have to give up two or three of those prized young players. That could potentially do more harm than good, considering the core that the Lakers have made.
However, Anthony Davis is one of the five best players in the league. Pairing him with LeBron James, even without the likes of a Kyle Kuzma or Brandon Ingram, gives you one of the most dangerous lineups in all of the NBA. The Warriors have shown that the team with the most stars usually wins (and wins big), and the Lakers would have two absolute superstars in James and Davis.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to bringing Anthony Davis to the Lakers via trade would be the implications for next season. The Lakers will have enough cap space for another max contract next season, and there are several high profile players entering free agency. What player looking to win a championship wouldn’t jump at the chance to play with LeBron and Anthony Davis? The Lakers could plant the seeds for the next superteam, and all it would take is one blockbuster trade.