The NBA’s worst kept secret was revealed on Saturday night, the New Orleans Pelicans traded top five talent in the league Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis is the type of talent that when he becomes available, general managers leap before they look. It’s very much a case of secure the talent first and then take it from there. Whether or not Rob Pelinka of the LA Lakers adopted this mindset is up for debate, however, what we do know is that the Lakers gave up a king’s ransom for Davis.
The Lakers traded away: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the 2019 4th overall pick, a top eight protected pick 2021 (will transfer to 2022 if the pick is not top eight), the choice to swap first-round picks in 2023, and an unprotected 2024 first-round pick that could be deferred to in 2025. In other words, the Pelicans pretty much now control the Lakers draft for the next six years.
This leaves the Lakers in an interesting situation. The current Lakers roster is comprised of: (PG) Isaac Bonga, (SG) -, (SF) Lebron James, (PF) Kyle Kuzma, (C) Anthony Davis. Outside of James, Kuzma and Davis, that roster leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, Davis and Kuzma can space the floor as big men with their 3-point shooting, but outside of those two I highly doubt the King would be happy to kick the ball out to Isaac Bonga at point guard or… nobody at shooting guard.
The Lakers currently have an estimated $30 million in cap space, which could fall to around $26 million if Davis does not waive his $4 million trade bonus. This leaves LA with little chance of securing another All-Star calibre player such as Jimmy Butler or Kemba Walker. The smarter option would be to spread the $30 million across multiple players instead of just paying LeBron, AD and an un-named superstar.
Here I have narrowed down a list of some of the possible players the Lakers should sign in free-agency:
When discussing the most underrated players in the NBA, few sports fans would dare to miss out the tenacious and rabid Patrick Beverley.
His time at the Clippers has seen Beverley gain more and more recognition as an elite defender and solid 3 point shooter, shooting 39% during the regular season and 43% during the playoffs.
Beverley is content to play off the ball and allow LeBron to take centre stage but his experience will allow him bring the ball up when needed and run the offence in a more traditional point guard role. If the Lakers can sign Beverley for just under $10 million then it’s a no-brainer.
Versatile ‘3 and D’ archetype players are perhaps the most sought after type in the modern NBA.
6’7” Ross is a prime example of this archetype. Ross can play either the 2 of the 3 position, this versatility allows Ross to defend a multitude of positions and even allows the Lakers to go small if they need to. Shooting a 38% from three in 2018, Ross will be eager to move to a big market team in LA after applying his trade in Orlando for the past three seasons.
Mirotic, similar to Ross, follows that similar sought after ‘3 and D’ archetype.
Mirotic impressed whilst playing for the Milwaukee Bucks providing extra spacing on offence and length of defence for Milwaukee, a team which followed the ‘5-out’ template, the system that LeBron thrives in, to amazing effectiveness in 2018. Plus, Mirotic also has played with Davis before in New Orleans.
This one may be a bit of a long-shot, but in the likelihood that Rondo decides to leave LA after a sour end to the regular season, Derrick Rose has proved with the Timberwolves that he could be one of the most effective sixth-men in the league.
However, on one hand LeBron has been a long-time admirer of Rose, Rose’s time with LeBron and the Cavaliers in 2017/18 was a borderline disaster and may have put a bad taste in ‘LeGM’s’ mouth.
Wherever LeBron has succeeded, he has been surrounded by outstanding role players. Mike Miller and Shane Battier in Miami, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Richard Jefferson in Cleveland. The Lakers would do well to surround two top five talents in the league with players that will contribute to LeBron and Davis’ shine, not take away from it.