Could Lakers trade for Anthony Davis?

How Anthony Davis’ signing with Klutch Sports could open the door for the Lakers to trade for the Pelican’s superstar

The decision by Anthony Davis to fire longtime agent Thad Foucher and possibly sign with LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul could be a first step towards his eventual decision to request a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.

With two years and $52 million remaining on his contract and a player option for $29 million for the 2020–21 season, Davis may be willing to turn down a $230 million supermax contract for a chance to compete for a championship. If AD does sign with Kutch Sports and advises the Pelicans he’s not going to re-sign with them, New Orleans would be smart to look to trade Davis before the midseason trade deadline rather than waiting and losing their leverage.

Timing is everything when it comes to the Pelicans trading Anthony Davis. The worst thing the Pelicans could do would be wait until next summer or the following midseason to try and trade Davis when they could end up in the same situation the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs found themselves in the last two years should Davis announce that he was going to sign with the Lakers and LeBron in free agency regardless of whom he’s traded to.

While there will be no shortage of teams eager to trade for Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics would likely be the top contenders, although the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets could become players. It’s been no secret that Danny Ainge has been accumulating trade assets for years specifically to be in position to trade for Anthony Davis, which means the Lakers would have to give up a lot if they want to outbid the Celtics.

So what kind of deal would make sense for the Lakers and Pelicans? To start with, Davis is currently earning $25 million per year, which means the Lakers would need to send out at least $20 million in salaries for the deal to work.

Here’s the deal that probably makes the best sense for the two teams:

  1. Lakers receive: Anthony Davis ($25.4M)
  2. Pelicans receive: Brandon Ingram ($5.8M), Kyle Kuzma ($1.7M), Ivica Zubac ($1.5M), Rajon Rondo ($9.0M), Lance Stephenson ($4.4M), and the Lakers First Round Picks for 2019 and 2021.

The trade would leave the Lakers with an upgraded starting lineup for the second half of this season of Lonzo Ball, KCP, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee and a bench of Svi Mykhailiuk, Josh Hart, Moe Wagner, and Michael Beasley. Most importantly, Anthony Davis would give the Lakers their second superstar and top-5 player to go along with LeBron James with cap space to add a third max contract free agent superstar next summer.

The Pelicans would get two future All-Stars in Ingram and Kuzma, a good young center in Zubac, the starting point guard they desperately need in Rondo, and a versatile veteran in Stephenson. Unless the Celtics were willing to give up Jason Tatum in a trade for Davis, I think the pieces the Lakers are offering would surpass any trade proposals from other teams. The Pelicans need to get off to a quick start or the pressure to make a trade will grow.

Anthony Davis is probably the only player in the league today for whom the Lakers would be willing to part with Brandon Ingram and/or Kyle Kuzma. The thought of a Lakers Big Three that included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and either Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, or DeMarcus Cousins would be the ultimate counter to the champion Golden State Warriors. There’s no doubt the Lakers will be monitoring the AD situation closely.