Laker building blocks or trading chips?
How fate and the rise of Lakers’ young core could make waiting to sign Anthony Davis as a free agent the team’s ultimate plan
Trade them or keep them? That’s the question that fuels Laker fans’ Twitter feeds as the team’s talented young core continues to impress playing without LeBron, raising their potential both as future building blocks or trading chips.
The more I see of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart, the more I’m hesitant to trade them, even for a superstar like Anthony Davis. While there are still questions about how Brandon Ingram fits with LeBron, there’s little question in my mind that Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma should be key components in a future Lakers’ championship dynasty as they’ve both shown the ability to compete at an elite level even without LeBron James.
While Magic Johnson supposedly wants an opportunity to make a pitch to superstar free agents Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard this summer, most analysts don’t believe either is interested in joining LeBron and the Lakers. While they could opt to pursue other elite free agents like Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, or Khris Middleton, chances are all three will re-sign with their current teams and the Lakers will instead focus on Anthony Davis.
Missing out on KD and Kawhi and passing on Klay, Kemba, and Khris should not alarm Lakers’ fans because Anthony Davis is unquestionably the better fit based on age, skillset, and position to play with LeBron James on the Lakers. Further, AD’s signing with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents LeBron, has been seen by many analysts as a clear indication that Davis will not re-sign with the Pelicans and may ultimately want to join the Lakers.
Pairing LeBron James and Anthony Davis would not only transform the Lakers into a championship contender now but would also give the Lakers the perfect superstar to take over as face of the franchise when LeBron retires. Signing AD as the team’s second superstar would arguably be a bigger move than signing LeBron James as it would give the Lakers a chance both to win right now and build a sustainable championship dynasty for the future.
Of course, waiting a year and half to sign Anthony Davis as a free agent has it’s own risks. We all know how the Lakers waiting to sign Paul George as a free agent worked out when he re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Should AD truly want to join the Lakers, he and Klutch Sports should be able to use the threat of his signing with the Lakers next summer to limit bidders and lower the price so the Pelicans have to trade him to them this summer.
But if the Pelicans ask for too much or another team like the Sixers outbid them with an offer to swap Ben Simmons, the Lakers should not hesitate to remain patient and wait until summer of 2020 to sign Davis as a free agent. The Lakers need to trust Rich Paul and Krunch Sports to keep AD committed to signing with the Lakers to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities teaming him up with LeBron on the Lakers can do for his brand and legacy.
In the meantime, the Lakers’ young core should grow and develop rapidly enough so LeBron the Lakers can legitimately compete for a championship this year and next year even without a second superstar like Anthony Davis. The payoff undoubtedly would be two years from now when the Lakers could roll out a dynamic starting lineup boasting LeBron James and Anthony Davis along with rising stars Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart.
That’s a lineup that’s worth waiting for in my opinion. Maybe the Lakers will luck out and be able to trade Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart and picks for Anthony Davis or maybe another superstar after signing AD as a free agent. But Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma have shown the ability to play well both with and without LeBron James and should be untouchable even in a trade for AD. They’re too important to the present with LeBron and the future without him.
The rise of Lakers’ young core could make waiting to sign Anthony Davis as a free agent the team’s ultimate plan Whether building blocks or trading chips, the Lakers’ young core are going to determine the fate of franchise’s future.