The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Anthony Davis in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. This move should end the Lakers playoffs drought next season, but at what cost? While adding Davis is huge, the Lakers still must round out the rest of their roster or this could be another repeat performance as last season.
There was concern the franchise would be able to open up max salary cap space to add another star alongside Davis and James, but that ended on Thursday when the Lakers restructured the deal to also trade Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards. Davis also waived his $4 million trade kicker, creating $32.5 million in open space for the Purple & Gold.
Now that Los Angeles has opened up max space, they must decide who and what to spend it on. Will they attack players such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and Jimmy Butler? Or will they improve their bench?
Yes, adding another star to the roster would give them a dangerous look, but the cost may be too high to overcome.
Walker would be a great signing as well Irving or Jimmy Butler, as each of those players would give the Lakers valuable outside shooting and ball distribution. But to win, it takes a team effort and Davis and James are not enough. Neither would adding a third star with no depth.
If the Lakers need further proof of that, look no further then the newly-crowned NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors. Kawhi Leonard was not just a one-man wrecking crew. Without the help of Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, or Fred VanVleet, the title would have remained in Golden State.
Now, the Lakers must choose wisely. In doing so, they cannot continue to think short-term. They can no longer afford that. The Lakers over the last two seasons have given away their future and in doing so, have handicapped themselves.
When Kobe retired, the torch was set to be passed to the young guys such as Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. Currently, only Kuzma remains. And if the Pelicans would have accepted the Lakers trade at the trade deadline last season, he would be gone as well. So, now what?
Instead of using the majority of their cap space for another All-Star, why not use that $32.5 million and build a real team for next season and beyond?
Rob Pelinka can take that money and spread the love across the board. Yes, a point guard is needed, but instead of Walker, Irving, or Russell, there are other options like Seth Curry, Derrick Rose, Patrick Beverly, or Terry Rozier. The possibilities are endless. With Kuzma still on the roster, that will give the Lakers one of the best front-courts in the NBA.
With shooting guard still an issue, there are cheaper options the Lakers could look into as well. What about Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, J.J. Redick, or Justin Holiday? Not big names, but they will play their roles and that’s all the Lakers need at this point. Not another superstar.
In regards to their bench, they could bring back JaVale McGee or test the waters with DeMarcus Cousins or Willie Cauley-Stein. To be fair, Davis has been injury prone and LeBron’s body may be showing signs of slowing down. If something were to happen to either player, then they would have to rely on either a third star or multiple solid role players.
All in all, the Lakers’ community is going wild with the big move. There’s no denying that with the shape the Warriors are in and Chris Paul saying he wants out of Houston, the Lakers are a real threat. But adding another max player only makes them good on paper. A starting five is good, but what about the other areas of concern?
Los Angeles should focus on adding role players around their two stars and not force another big move for a player on a max contract.