As we sit here in early November, we are starting to approach trade season in the NBA. The Lakers will without a doubt be players as they are still looking to clear cap space. We all know they want two max cap slots and while they have space for one next offseason, they will need to create another. However, they may not need to create one. Instead, they can trade for one of the best players in the league. The two stars that will probably be in the trade market are the two bigs in New Orleans, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus. Get ready, Lakers fans, because we are going to explore how they can pull off a blockbuster deal that could change their future forever and possibly the landscape of the NBA.
The 'Brow Comes to Tinseltown
It is not often one team trades a bunch of talent for one guy. Anthony Davis is that good. As of right now, there are reports Luol Deng may be traded or bought out. If he is bought out, the Lakers can still offer those other four guys for just Anthony Davis and not Solomon Hill. Laker fans may be concerned because Ingram has looked solid this season and is showing promise, but the Lakers still have a great lineup without him. Their starters would be Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis, and Brook Lopez with a bench of Josh Hart, Tyler Ennis, Corey Brewer, and Ivica Zubac. Yes, that bench is thin, but they are not building for this year. They are building for the next few years. This offseason, Paul George or LeBron James would be more enticed to come to Los Angeles and play with Anthony Davis, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers can then go get a cheap free agent shooting guard like Marco Belinelli who can space the floor. They can fill in the other bench pieces in free agency.
You might be asking why would New Orleans trade an arguably top-5 player in the NBA. The Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins experiment is working for those two, but the rest of the team has so few assets that they are limited by a poor supporting cast. They are better off trading both superstar bigs for a bunch of young assets, tank for a top pick, and rebuild. Those players they get from the Lakers trade and another trade for Boogie would give them a lot of good rebuilding pieces. The trade is a win-win for both teams.
The Lakers Do It All for the Boogie
DeMarcus Cousins is in a contract year and it seems unlikely he will return to New Orleans if they miss the playoffs, which seems very well possible. While the return for him seems low for New Orleans, the possibility of him leaving lowers his value. Heck, it is a gamble for any team to trade for him unless they have the infrastructure that will make it hard for Cousins to bolt. Cousins wanted to be traded to the Lakers in the past and they will have another max cap slot to bring in a star to play with him. Randle, Nance, and Clarkson have all been very good this year. The Pelicans might be wise to take this deal. Even if they do not trade Anthony Davis, those three guys with the 'Brow could be a decent squad.
For the Lakers, adding Cousins with the possibility of another big name free agent is enticing to go along with Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma. Even if they do not add a star, they can use that cap space for a bunch of solid role players. Same applies if they get Anthony Davis. They do not have to land a star. Rome was not built overnight and other cliches.
Why Not Both?
The Lakers would have to do that Anthony Davis trade with the Pelicans. This summer, they will have max cap space. If DeMarcus Cousins enjoyed playing with Davis, the Lakers will have cap space to sign him. The two towers along with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and a free agent guard (preferably a shooter like Belinelli, for example) can be a very strong core going forward. As the league goes small, the Lakers can go big and still have enough spacing especially if Ball and Kuzma's shots start to develop more. Defensively, they would be long and athletic. It will be hard to get easy buckets in the paint on them, so the perimeter guys will be more aggressive and allow fewer 3s. This could be a starting block to beating the Warriors.
My take is the Lakers should pursue one of these big men in a trade. They need to create a max cap slot so why not trade for a max player? This will make it much easier to lure another star. Even if they do not get another star, they can fill out the rest of the roster with quality role players and high-end starters. It is doubtful Clarkson, Randle, and Deng are on this roster past the trade deadline. The Lakers might as well get a lot for them. The former two have been very good players this season so far and Randle would be special in a starting role. Even if you do not think the Pelicans would ever agree to these trades, their general manager, Dell Demps, is not particularly good at his job as you can see by the rosters he has constructed this entire decade. Star chasing in free agency is extremely risky, but it becomes far safer when you already have one and right now, the Lakers lack one. Between now and the trade deadline, we will see a clearer picture of what Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are made of.