As soon as Anthony Davis signed with Klutch Sports, it seemed this was always the plan. Ride things out for a little while with the New Orleans Pelicans, but eventually, if they failed to meet his expectations, there would always be
Klutch Sports West the Los Angeles Lakers.
Davis made it clear on Monday morning that he doesn’t see himself in New Orleans long-term, and the Lakers are reportedly focused on landing him. The question now becomes what it might cost the Lakers to acquire the franchise’s next generational big man.
Fair warning: It won’t leave very much in the cupboard, according to Brad Turner of the L.A. Times:
Hearing from sources if Lakers want Anthony Davis, who has requested a trade, LA has to start the deal with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, No. 1 pick.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) January 28, 2019
It’s reportedly “unclear” if the Lakers are willing to include Ball, but basically, in order to land Davis, the team would have to send out this entire picture.
If New Orleans wants Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Zubac and a first, done. Offer them that and call it a day. If they want to add Josh Hart to that package, you do that, too. Do they want another first-rounder? Okay cool. Have at it. Just get a deal done.
The Lakers should absolutely and happily meet these trade demands. Not only is it a fair asking price for someone of Davis’ immense talents, but the Lakers have also learned the hard way about playing things a little too cute.
Paul George is currently having an MVP-caliber season for another organization after the Lakers declined to give up assets for him. Kawhi Leonard — another guy the Lakers didn’t trade for — would be doing the same if he didn’t sit out so many games.
We can note how reluctant both the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs were to make deals with the Lakers for a variety of reasons, but the point still remains: By balking at offering too much for those guys, the Lakers wound up having to watch them perform as well as they have for different teams.
Another thing to consider here is the human element with the New Orleans front office. Dell Demps is absolutely going to hold this situation against the Lakers out of spite, even if it might be illogical to do so. If the Lakers try to strut into negotiations by swinging around their, um ... leverage ... any hard feelings Demps might have for them will only magnify.
Remember how the Spurs reportedly had a higher asking price for the Lakers specifically because of the rivalry the organizations share? Remember how Indiana seemed to keep raising the asking price just to make things more difficult to please either George or the Lakers? Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka need to avoid those scenarios at all cost here by showing good faith and being willing to make a fair deal.
Nothing should be off limits for Davis. As promising as the Lakers might consider Ball, he’s probably not going to reach the heights Davis has. No matter how many times Kuzma bites his jersey in an homage to Kobe, he’ll have to find out how a Pelicans jersey tastes. The Lakers simply can’t afford to mess around. The more open the Lakers appear to meeting New Orleans’ asking price, the more painless this can be on everyone.
Davis’ time in New Orleans still isn’t over, in all likelihood. Even despite his demand to be traded, it behooves the Pelicans to wait out this season and see what offers might look like this summer when the Boston Celtics can throw their hat in the ring, and other teams that might be focused on the playoffs this year can turn their attention to putting together a package that rivals the Lakers’ or Celtics’ offers.
If the Lakers can convince New Orleans to part with their franchise player before that time comes, though, they need to jump at that opportunity, no matter how hefty the price might be.