The NBA Trade Deadline came and went on Thursday, but the LA Lakers failed to land Pelicans star Anthony Davis. Wednesday night looked as if the deal was going to get done, but New Orleans countered Thursday morning with an offer that only an insane GM would accept.
Selling the farm for a perennial All-Star top five NBA player sounds like a sure thing, especially adding him to a roster with LeBron James, but the reality of it is that it would have actually been the worst decision LA could have made. The Lakers would have had to give up their entire young core (Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram) as well as three first-round picks and three second-round picks. Yes, you read that correctly…
How could a team that lost four players who log significant minutes possibly function by adding just one injury-prone superstar? The answer to that question is that they wouldn’t…at least this year.
Now, looking at the big picture, maybe the trade would make sense. Land AD, make LBJ happy, open up cap space to land a notable free-agent in July all with the mindset of dethroning the Golden State Warriors. Sounds simple enough…right?
Not so fast! The NBA is changing and has changed drastically over the past decade. It’s a shooters league now and the only way to win in this league is if you have players who can hit from beyond the arc. The only way to be the best is if you beat the best and the Warriors have three stars who shot over 41 percent from downtown in 2017-18. Thursday night’s win on the road at Boston simply demonstrated why the Lakers needed to keep some of their younger pieces.
Kyle Kuzma not only went toe-to-toe with the C’s point guard, but he made numerous big time buckets from deep when LA needed him the most. He is second on the team in PPG and is shooting over 31 percent from three. Kuz has taken big strides this year and has played very well through the trade talk rumors. His performance in Boston is why LA needs to keep him around and why he will be a piece to this puzzle they are trying to put together.
The Rajon Rondo buzzer-beater was the type of moment that the Lakers can rally around with the current roster and possibly shake some things up in the West. LeBron’s injury is the only reason they aren’t currently in a playoff spot, but if this team can find a way in (which they will…they have the King), I would not want to be the team facing them in the first round.
As far as missing out on AD, the Lakers are not in any rush to win this year. The goal was to never win this year…it was to develop their core, see who they can elevate and trade, and then bring in one or possibly two free-agents in July. The plan wasn’t to panic and throw the kitchen sink at the Pelicans because Davis suddenly wanted a trade. The plan all along or what it should have been all along was to get Kawhi Leonard on July 1, and then take a bid at Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson. Disrupting Golden State’s roster is the single most important play in the signing of James, and if that fails…then you must re-load.
This apparent rumor that Kyrie Irving is going to reunite with LeBron in LA is pretty comical, but you never know for certain. His public comments about being frustrated along with him announcing that he called the King about leadership is something to be noted…but I just don’t see them teaming up again unless it is in the All-Star Game! I’m not saying that it won’t happen because the NBA is the one league that it could, but it all depends on how Boston finishes in June or even May for that matter.
The game is changing and you need a combination of play-makers and shooters, not an injury prone power forward in exchange for depth and talent. Davis is one of the game’s best players, no question, but the only way to disrupt the Bay’s dynasty is to either lure one of the “Big 4” away or stock up on positions that can compete with them and not selling the farm in the process.
Sure, if LA had to give up the silo and a few tractors to nab the Brow then it would have been a no brainer, but you simply cannot sell the farm for anybody in today’s game. A little patience goes a long way sometimes and this time it will almost certainly pay off.
Durant did what he left OKC to do–win titles. So he will likely be on the move in July. DeMarcus Cousins signed a cheap, one-year deal to win a ring and win or lose he will be gone. If the Lakers can lure Thompson, which will be a stretch because he seems to love it in Oakland, then they will have successfully completed what they set out to do. But that is a big stretch to say the least!
The Lakers basically have three years to figure this out and win a title, but it all starts with landing Kawhi this July. If the Lake Show can land the Claw then they will be able to make the farm trade for AD. It cannot be the other way around because who knows what could happen. Toronto makes a run and he feels they can win and signs another year. Or Durant decides to stay or Irving stays…it is not a guarantee. Nothing is a guarantee, which is why you need some form of security in your back pocket.
Missing out on Davis at the deadline was a blessing in disguise for LA and only strengthens their championship rebuild plans even further. Magic Johnson just better create some noise in July or this entire plan burns to pieces before year two even begins.