Ranking Lakers’ AD Trade Scenarios!

Comparing three Anthony Davis trade scenarios that would let Lakers keep one young star and cap space for a third superstar

As we approach the June 20 NBA Draft, there are three trade scenarios that the Lakers could offer the Pelicans for Anthony Davis that would allow them to keep one of their three young stars plus cap space to sign a third superstar.

All three scenarios would meet the league’s salary matching rules but would have to be verbally agreed before the June 20 draft and not executed until after the Lakers completed using their cap space to sign free agents in July. While the Lakers would be willing to negotiate specifics of each scenario, their bottom line goal would be to keep one of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Kyle Kuzma plus the cap space to sign a third superstar in free agency.

The scenario the Lakers would prefer the Pelicans accept for Anthony Davis would include Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and the #4 pick in the June 20 draft. That offer would enable the Lakers to retain point guard Lonzo Ball, who is probably the best fit alongside LeBron James of their three young stars, plus cap space for a third superstar. Trading Ball would also leave the Lakers without a starting point guard.

There are other factors that work in the favor of the Pelicans possibly being willing to exclude Lonzo Ball from any Anthony Davis trade, including that the Pelicans already have an established top tier point guard in Jrue Holiday and that LaVar Ball, Lonzo Ball’s father, does not want his son playing for the Pelicans. LaVar’s rants have even led to speculation the Lakers might trade Lonzo to the Chicago Bulls to land the #6 pick as sweetener for the Pelicans.

There are also other signs that point to Lonzo as possibly being the most untouchable of the Lakers three young stars. The Lakers recently confirmed that Jason Kidd would be joining new head coach Frank Vogel’s staff as the highest paid assistant coach in the league. The primary reason the Lakers hired Kidd was to mentor Lonzo, whose game has often been compared to a young Jason Kidd. That’s a big move to make if you’re trading Lonzo Ball.

There’s a good chance that Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and the #4 pick in the draft could be the initial offer the Lakers will make to the Pelicans in a proposed trade for Anthony Davis. The Lakers could easily sweeten the package with a future draft pick or two if necessary. They could probably even get a third team to take on Moore’s or Hill’s expiring contract in return for a future first round pick in necessary.

Bottom line, this is the trade that the Lakers are hoping they can pull off. They avoid having to extend Brandon Ingram, get to keep point guard Lonzo Ball, and still have cap space for a third superstar or multiple role players.

Should the Pelicans demand Lonzo Ball as part of the package for Anthony Davis, the Lakers could easily revise their offer to include Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and the #4 pick in the draft. It’s doubtful the Lakers would do this unless they were confident Kyrie Irving or another elite point guard were going to sign with them in free agency as they would be risking going into the season without a starting point guard.

It’s also hard for me to imagine David Griffin, who’s always been a huge Brandon Ingram fan, deciding point guard Lonzo Ball would be a better fit next to Holiday and Stevenson than a versatile wing like Brandon Ingram. While I can understand why Pelicans’ head coach Alvin Gentry would love a backcourt duo of Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball, I think most NBA experts would consider Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram to be a better backcourt.

Bottom line, I don’t see the Pelicans preferring a scenario of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and the #4 pick for Anthony Davis over the same package with Brandon Ingram instead of Lonzo Ball.

Which brings us to the third Anthony Davis trade scenario which would allow the Lakers to retain Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, and Isaac Bonga but cost them Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, plus the #4 pick in the draft. This is the package I believe the Lakers would prefer most not to offer and the Pelicans would likely prefer most to receive. Essentially, this is the package that includes the Lakers’ top three assets in Ball, Ingram, and the #4 pick.

If push comes to shove, I think the Lakers would be hard pressed not to offer this package because Anthony Davis is such a transcendent superstar and the Lakers urgently need to land a second superstar to play with LeBron James. They would need to take a hard stand that they would not include Kyle Kuzma or Josh Hart or take back Moore’s or Hill’s expiring contracts because they would need cap space for a third superstar and starting point guard.

While it would hurt to give up both Lonzo and Brandon, being able to keep Kuzma, Hart, Wagner, and Bonga would make the challenge of building a strong and deep roster behind a Superstar Big Three a more realistic task. While Kuzma and Hart don’t have Ball’s and Ingram’s #2 draft pick pedigree, they’re both quality first round picks who should develop into elite rotation players worst case while Kuzma could develop into an elite starting forward.

Bottom line, if the Lakers can retain the cap space to sign a third superstar or multiple top tier role players, then trading Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and the #4 pick in the draft for Anthony Davis would still be a viable option.

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