Frustrations about the Lakers’ second-straight disappointing season have led to multiple people being the targets of ire from fans, with Rob Pelinka, Frank Vogel, Jeanie Buss, LeBron James, Rich Paul, Russell Westbrook and Antony Davis all on the receiving end of various shares of blame.
Some of the criticisms of Davis, in particular, have featured calls for the Lakers to trade the big man following a second consecutive season mostly lost to injuries. Fortunately, the Lakers don’t appear to share that mindset.
On Tuesday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report shot down the possibility of the Lakers trading Davis only 16 months after signing him to a five-year extension (emphasis mine):
Los Angeles will be limited in its options for turnover outside of the coaching staff. While some rival executives around the league have wondered about the Lakers’ willingness to discuss trading All-Star forward Anthony Davis this offseason, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation refuted that option will seriously be on the table for Los Angeles brass. Despite Davis’ battle with injury the past two seasons, Lakers figures still harbor faith that a healthy pairing of Davis and LeBron James can once more boast a championship-contending ceiling as it did in 2020.
While Fischer’s piece was littered with far less fun reports about the Lakers future, not being open to deal Davis is encouraging and reassuring for a number of reasons.
For one, from an optics standpoint, having the franchise deal Davis after working so long and hard to get him, gutting most of their team in the process and him leading them to a title would be a bad look. Not to mention doing it so soon after a long extension would give off some Clippers-esque vibes of dealing Blake Griffin right after putting him on a shirt with Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama, among others.
It also just wouldn’t be a sensible move to make as well. Teams very rarely get equal value back for superstars in trades and if they do, it’s often in the form of picks and young prospects, neither of which would be all that appealing to a Lakers franchise in win-now mode. The logistics of finding a trade that would allow the Lakers to remain as competitive as they are right now with Davis is hard, if not nearly impossible.
The reality remains that the Lakers are closer to a title-winning team with Davis on the roster than without, even if that comes with injuries. He’s still an elite, dynamic player that is a one-of-one in the league. At his best, there are very few in the league better than him.
Davis has pushed back against some of the narratives about his injuries of late and, at least this season, he has a point. It was more bad fortune than anything else that led to Davis missing time this season, something no one could have predicted or prepared for even with Davis’ history of injuries. No one can plan for a player falling into Davis’ knee or Davis coming down on Rudy Gobert’s foot, two situations that would have injured any player in the league.
Ultimately, frustrations of a poor season has — and perhaps should — had fans lashing out and demanding accountability and solutions. Those should come this offseason, but not in the form of shipping out one of the league’s most unique and elite players. There are better pathways the Lakers can take to try and fix this than overreacting and dealing Davis to blow this whole thing up.
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