The Los Angeles Lakers have seemingly dodged a bullet with the injury report of Anthony Davis. The superstar big man aggravated his Achilles last night and many feared the worst. But it seems to only be a sprain and that means he is out of action for the foreseeable future, although it is not severe.
The Lakers need to take action even if Davis is fit to return because finishing with one of the top seeds in the West will be crucial to their title repeat. The Lakers should sign a top player to make up for Davis's absence in the meantime and should do it fast.
The Lakers are currently $913k below the hard cap, and some key dates are in effect this month. Starting February 23, 10-day contracts can be signed. Starting February 24th, the Lakers can sign a player to a guaranteed contract for the rest of the season. Here are the top 5 targets for the Lakers before the trade deadline.
5. Hassan Whiteside
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Kostas Antetokounmpo for Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside has seen his value crumble in recent years, especially since he is a big man who can't stretch the floor. But Whiteside is a very effective center at crashing the boards and blocking shots, which are things the Lakers need to replace Anthony Davis.
Whiteside won't score 20 points a night, but he will be a big body to throw at opposing big men to help out the undersized Montrezl Harrell. Whiteside back up Marc Gasol in the lineup for the Lakers and provide a big boost to the team's defense.
4. Trevor Ariza
Trevor Ariza is a very popular player in Los Angeles because he helped Kobe Bryant and the Lakers win an NBA title in 2009. Ariza has always been a stout defender who hustles hard on both ends of the floor and is the epitome of a championship-caliber role player.
Ariza is nowhere near as effective as he was in 2009 as he has aged considerably, but he still plays tough defense and can hit the outside shot. The Lakers should find defenders at this moment and Ariza can do the trick.
3. J.J. Redick
Trade Package: Quinn Cook, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris for J.J. Redick
The Lakers have had their eye on Redick for a long time because he is one of the best knockdown shooters in NBA history. Redick is great at moving off screens, getting open, and nailing shots. Redick isn't in his prime anymore and he can't be expected to play more than 20-25 minutes per game, but he is perfect for the Lakers.
Los Angeles have the game's best playmaker in LeBron James, which means The King will find Redick moving off screens. Even when Davis returns, Redick will be very effective. The Lakers probably need to offer players such as Quinn Cook, Wesley Matthews, and Markieff Morris to lure Redick from New Orleans however.
2. Andre Drummond
Andre Drummond has been the NBA's best rebounder for a very long time. The center is extremely athletic and has a knack for grabbing every ball that bounces off the rim. Despite averaging 17.5 PPG and 13.5 RPG this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to shut him down until he gets traded.
The Cavs want to play modern floor spacing basketball, but that doesn't mean that the Lakers can't use him. Losing Davis for a few weeks or even months means they need size, and Drummond can be the rim protector and rebounder for the defending champions. If there is one star player LeBron James can recruit, it's 2-time All-Star Andre Drummond.
1. Blake Griffin
The Pistons and Blake Griffin have agreed to part ways this season. The only way the Lakers can acquire Griffin is via a buyout. If Detroit cut their losses and buy out Griffin, LeBron James and the Lakers can acquire yet another talented star player to add to their team. And that would be the ultimate revenge for Griffin against Steve Balmer and the Los Angeles Clippers franchise that did him wrong.
Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 PPG this season, but his talent will always be there. Griffin can be the immediate starter when replacing Anthony Davis, and the Lakers would still be one of the top-3 seeds in the West. With Davis returning and Griffin coming off the bench, the Lakers are the favorites to lift the NBA title again.