The Los Angeles Lakers are still in a search for a superstar to pair with LeBron James. A cast of budding young players who may have the potential to be stars some day currently surrounds the best player in the world. But with James getting up there in age, he can’t afford to bank on their potential. He needs a sure thing right now. Moreover, patience might not be a feasible route for the future Hall of Famer if he wants to “chase the ghost in Chicago.”
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss brought in former Laker legend and five-time NBA champion Magic Johnson as team president with a mandate to win. With his job practically on the line, his top priority is to win as soon as possible. With the Lakers currently lacking a superstar pairing in Los Angeles, Johnson may look to move one of his most coveted young assets in Brandon Ingram to satisfy The King. Here are some trade options for the Lakers, centered around their 2016 second overall pick.
All in for The Brow
Let’s start with the biggest fish in the pond, shall we? When New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis signed with Klutch Sports, the same agency LeBron James is signed to, rumors began to flare that he was eventually headed to The City of Angels.
The Lakers will need to give up a lot to acquire Davis, who, like LeBron James, is a generational talent. But this what it will have to cost Los Angeles if they want to get their hands on The Brow.
While the trade is centered around Ingram, the loss of Kuzma and Hart will be a big blow for the Lakers. Both are already proving to be great fits alongside James. But, of course, acquiring a star with the magnitude of Davis comes with a hefty price.
However, this trade may not come as soon as this season. AD may want to play the year out with NOP and see where the franchise is headed. The Pelicans seem far away from being a title contender this season, thus he may look elsewhere in the summer to have a better chance to compete.
With the looming possibility of Davis’ departure, the Pelicans might have to highly consider trading their franchise superstar instead of letting him walk away for nothing. Davis may exercise his “pre-agency” as soon as the Pelicans’ season is over, and force a trade out of New Orleans if all else goes sour in The Big Easy.
With this trade, the Lakers’ future is obviously compromised. But this puts the Los Angeles in win-now mode. Moreover, there is a current saga clouding over at the Bay Area. The Warriors juggernaut may no longer even be in place by start of next season. Thus, the addition of Davis, paired with LeBron James instantly strengthens the Lakers’ chances for banner number 17.
Perfect combo guard for LeBron
Unlike the trade scenario above, this may actually happen this season. The Washington Wizards are probably the biggest disappointment so far this season. The locker room situation is as bad as it gets as everybody is playing the blame game for the team’s horrific start. It might make sense to blow things up, or if not, at least shake them up.
Right now, Washington’s most valuable asset is Bradley Beal. Thus, if the Wizards want to make a move, he is their best bet to return the most value. The Lakers can offer them that with Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, two promising young players for a team that won’t have any chances of contending any time soon. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Beasley serve as salary fillers for this deal. However, this trade can only happen after December 15, when both are eligible to be traded.
Nonetheless, Beal makes sense for the Lakers right now and for the future. The 25-year old guard is a proven All-Star and is still under contract until the 2020-21 season. Moreover, Beal offers the Lakers a legitimate shooter who can also create shots off the dribble.
Again, Ingram is the center-piece of the deal as he has the highest upside among the assets given up. But losing Hart also stings as he already fits well with James as a sweet shooting combo guard. However, replacing him with a sure-fire All-Star and combo like Beal is a major upgrade.
Moreover, trading away KCP and Beasley who are both under one-year deals won’t really affect their future. The rotation will be super thin this season though, but they’ll just have to throw this season in the bag anyway, since they are, in no way, shape, or form, championship contenders.
Damian Lillard heads to Hollywood
The trade: Lakers trade Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and future first round pick/s for Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers
This trade won’t happen within this season since the Portland Trailblazers are usually a great regular season team. However, another first round exit, perhaps similar to last year’s post-season, may trigger them to blow things up. They might strongly consider trading away one of, if not, both their All-Star caliber guards in the off-season. Getting Ingram and Hart gives the Blazers some pieces to build around as they start their reset plan.
For the Lakers, anyone between Lillard and CJ McCollum actually makes sense, but the three-time All-Star point guard is the more coveted piece. Lillard offers the Lakers another player who can create his own shot, and at the same time, make plays for others. Moreover, the 2013 Rookie of the Year is a big time shot maker in the clutch, so he’ll be able to assist LeBron in crunch time. In a way, he will sort of become the Lakers’ version of Kyrie Irving for James.
Lillard, like Beal, is under contract until the 2020-21 without a player option. Thus, the Lakers will have time to build something surrounding James and Lillard. With this one, some of their future is compromised, but not completely since the Lakers still have Ball and Kuzma as the team’s emerging prospects.
It might be a concern, though, that Ball shares the same position as Lillard. However, Lillard can operate quite well without the ball, so that shouldn’t really be a problem moving forward. Moreover, Ball is tall enough to guard opposing two-guards in the league, though he doesn’t really have the defensive acumen to shut them down. It’s something they’ll have to figure out if this deal does go down. But nonetheless, having Lillard over Ingram is certainly an upgrade for a team that wants to win immediately.
What Should the Lakers Do?
Personally, the Lakers should go all in on Anthony Davis. The pairing with LeBron just has too much upside and may become too much for the league to handle.
Forget about giving up the young pieces. We’re talking about a once-in-a-generation talent here. Matching that superstar pairing against the one in Golden State, granted that it is still in tact next season, will give the Lakers the best shot to take them down eventually. And remember, as good as Davis already is, he is only entering his prime.
Lillard or Beal just won’t put them on equal footing with Golden State or Houston, or even Boston or Toronto from the East for that matter. Davis instantly puts them in firmly the conversation for contention.
Again, while Los Angeles will have give up so many pieces for Davis, they really shouldn’t worry too much about that. Everything will funnel in eventually.
The bright lights of Hollywood in itself is already an attraction piece. Moreover, the Lakers brand as the NBA’s marquee team further lures players in. With all of those factors already in place, The Brow’s presence, along with the star-power of The King, all the more attracts free agents to come join the show. The players will come and the title-contending roster will eventually construct itself, and that is all due to the mega-star pairing of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.