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5 Blockbuster Deals The Los Angeles Lakers Could Make By Trading Anthony Davis

5 Blockbuster Deals The Los Angeles Lakers Could Make By Trading Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis went down with an ugly ankle sprain during the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent win over the Jazz, leaving LA stumbling into the All-Star break 27-31, wondering if they can hang on while their All-Star big man recovers. This has been AD’s story over the last two seasons.

Suffer an injury. Get back on the court. Suffer another injury.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

Anthony Davis has found himself injured so much that the talking heads have begun swirling overhead. Some folks have questioned The Brow’s conditioning, calling these constant body issues more than bad luck.

The haters could be right. Maybe after AD helped the Lakers win the title in 2020, he went on cruise control, content with one ring on his finger. Maybe they’re wrong, and it’s bad luck, like getting burned on the river five times in a row and losing your bankroll. Only AD really knows.

Either way. It’s not working in LA.

When he’s right, Anthony Davis is still a top-10 player in the NBA. A player more than capable of anchoring a championship-caliber defense, who can also drop 35 points on any given night. If the Lakers miss the playoffs or softly waltz out of the first round, GM Rob Pelinka has to consider trading AD over the summer of 2022 while his value is high.

Below, we rank the 5 best Anthony Davis trades.


5. The Lakers Gain Some Much Needed Depth From The Atlanta Hawks

Anthony Davis Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, De’Andre Hunter, 2022 first-round pick (via Charlotte)

Atlanta Hawks Receive: Anthony Davis

If the Lakers were to make this deal, GM Rob Pelinka would be admitting he committed first-degree negligence on the Purple and Gold roster during the summer of 2021 by trading away Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while also allowing Alex Caruso to walk to the Chicago Bulls. He’d also be acknowledging that Anthony Davis’s ongoing injury issues combined with LA’s thinned-out ranks have pushed the Lakers from a genuine title contender to merely a playoff team.

The Lakers would lose a top-10 player in AD (when he’s healthy and motivated), and they’d gain three solid rotation players in John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and De’Andre Hunter, none of whom are All-Stars.

John Collins, 24, is the closest out of the three Hawks in this trade to becoming a star. He’s averaging 16.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 38.8 3P%. Collins is an excellent complimentary piece who has excelled next to Trae Young and would continue to produce alongside LeBron James in a revamped Lakers lineup. Collins is one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league, and he’s also one of the best roll men in the association, connecting on 1.48 points per possession on his crashes to the rack, which lands him in the 94th percentile. Still, he’s never shown he can manufacture his own shot, and he’s nowhere near AD’s level as a defender.

Bogdan Bogdanovic began the 2021-22 season in a slump, but he’s rounded into form over his last 15 games, averaging 16.2 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 41.6% from deep. Bogdan would fit perfectly in Hollywood, a town that breaks some players with its bright lights and constant pressure. Bogdanovic plays with fire in his eyes. He’s not afraid of taking big shots in big moments, and his brand of confident shot-making and quick hands on D would be a tremendous boon for a Lakes squad that’s been dying for somebody other than LBJ (and perhaps Malik Monk) who are not intimidated by a few actors or musicians with pretty jewelry sitting courtside.

De’Andre Hunter has only been in the league three seasons, but he’s 24, only one year older than Devin Booker. Hunter could improve some on offense, but we essentially know what he brings on the fun side: a solid three-point shot (38.2 3P% in 2021-22) and a decent mid-range game. However, his defense could jump two or three levels in the next couple of seasons. Hunter is a 6-8, 225-pound wing who has never played above-average D. He has the tools to become the next Mikal Bridges or Matisse Thybulle. The Lakers would have to hope that once out of Atlanta’s no-defense culture and under the tutelage of Frank Vogel (if he’s still the Lakers coach), Hunter would live up to his defensive potential.

The Lakers’ starting lineup would be solid if they made this trade with R. Westbrook, B. Bogdanovic, D. Hunter, L. James, and J. Collins. “Solid” is the keyword. This is undoubtedly a playoff team, but they’d be massive underdogs against the Suns or Warriors in a seven-game series. At this point, making the playoffs next season and giving themselves a chance to make some noise in the NBA’s second season might be better than what we’ve seen this year.

On the Hawks side of things, this deal is a straightforward decision. As Bill Simmons used to say, “You always trade a handful of change for a dollar bill.” AD is the shiny new dollar in this trade. If he came to the south motivated and in excellent shape with a massive chip on his shoulder after getting shipped from Hollywood, he could propel the underperforming Hawks into one of the best teams in the league.

AD is a top-5 defender when he’s healthy. He covers ground like a Cheetah zoning in on its prey, two-stepping from the lane out to the three-point line, stymying outside shooters, pick and roll actions, speedy point guards, and big men near the rack. Davis also has a solid one-on-one game, and he’s a monster at the rim on lob catches. Anthony Davis and Trae Young would become the most devastating two-man combination on the east coast.

If the Hawks made this deal, they’d headline two excellent big men in their starting lineup with A. Davis and C. Capela alongside superstar Trae Young and Kevin Huerter and perhaps Danilo Gallinari or another two-way wing Atlanta picks up during the offseason.


4. The Lakers And Suns Exchange Big Men

Anthony Davis Suns

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges

Phoenix Suns Receive: Anthony Davis

Let’s start off by saying that the Suns are the title frontrunners this year, and if they do claim the chip, there is no way they’ll make this deal. BUT, if Phoenix doesn’t make good on their regular-season success for the second year in a row, they’d have to jump on this deal.

AD is an upgrade over Deandre Ayton because of his versatility. Ayton takes around 85% of his shots in the lane. He lives off feeds at the rim from Chris Paul and Devin Booker, and he shines as the third or fourth option on offense. He has no mid-range or long-distance game, and you can’t count on him to manufacture points out of the post.

Davis has the entire bag. He can play out of the pick and roll, work in isolation situations, and easily hit mid-range jumpers.

On defense, Ayton has improved, but nobody outside of Giannis affects the less fun side of the ball the way Davis does. If the Suns landed AD, they could play a switch-everything defense and then shift to a more standard drop-back scheme, constantly keeping teams off balance. AD can do it all.

There is a risk here for the Suns. They’d hate to lose Mikal Bridges, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but they have Cameron Johnson, a 6-8, 210-pound wing who could step into the starting lineup and give Phoenix excellent perimeter defense. Devin Booker has also become a much better defender, holding his assignments to 43.3% from the field. Neither player can fill Bridges' shoes, but they come close.

The more significant risk is AD’s injury history, but the peril is warranted if the Suns fail twice in the postseason. If AD is healthy, a starting lineup featuring C. Paul, D. Booker, J. Crowder, C. Johnson, and A. Davis would be a quick and painless death. It’s hard to imagine any team beating that grouping in a seven-game series.

Deandre Ayton wants a max contract. The Suns don’t think he’s worth it. That’s where the Lakers step in.

For this deal to go down, the Suns would have to sign Ayton over the summer and then deal him along with Bridges to the Purple and Gold for AD.

If the Lakers were to make this transaction, they’d get a durable young center in Deandre Ayton. The Suns’ big man doesn’t reach AD’s peak, but he’s dependable, and he’s a future All-Star. You could argue he’s a young Rudy Gobert.

Have a look at their 2021-22 numbers:

Deandre Ayton: 16.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 42.9 defensive field goal percentage, 11.7 contested shots per game, the Suns have a 105.9 defensive rating (3rd in the NBA)

Rudy Gobert: 15.7 PPG, 14.8 RPG, 42.8 defensive field goal percentage, 13.1 contested shots per game, the Jazz have a 109.3 defensive rating (9th in the NBA)

Ayton is anchoring the Suns’ third-rated defense. He’s a monster post defender, an excellent rim protector, and he moves well on the perimeter off switches onto smaller players. Ayton is also the premier finisher in the NBA off pick and roll passes at the rim. He’d mesh incredibly well with LBJ and Russell Westbrook, two of the best lob passers in the league.

Mikal Bridges would single-handedly turn the Lakers’ defense into a top-10 unit. The Purple and Gold have struggled all season, containing the league’s plethora of speedy point guards, hemorrhaging points to players like Ja Morant, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul. Nobody in the association can shut down the NBAs elite offensive weapons, but Bridges slows them down better than anyone in the league. Plus, he’s a solid three-point shooter (36.5 3P% in 2021-22) who’d spread the floor for Westbrook and James on offense.

The Lakers starting unit of R. Westbrook, M. Bridges, S. Johnson, L. James, and D. Ayton would instantly form into a physical and menacing top-5 defense that would consistently go out and get stops. This version of the Purple and Gold could win a title behind LBJ’s two-way greatness and their D.


3. The Lakers Add A Former Defensive Player Of The Year From Their California Rivals

Anthony Davis Warriors

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Draymond Green, James Wiseman, Jordan Poole

Golden State Warriors Receive: Anthony Davis

Draymond Green is the frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year Award. James Wiseman is a talented young center, and Jordan Poole is an excellent microwave scorer. Still, the Warriors would have to take this deal because the combination of Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson would be unstoppable on offense, and perhaps a motivated AD is a better overall defender than Green.

Draymond Green has a career 8.7 PPG average and a 31.5 three-point percentage. He has next to no post moves, and his mid-range game is non-existent. Green is an excellent passer, but he’s essentially a one-way player.

Green is one of the best defenders in the league, but AD is one year removed from anchoring the Lakers 2020-21 top-rated defense, and it’s been only two years since he led the Purple and Gold to the title behind his incredible play on the less fun end.

Wiseman is a nice prospect, but with AD, Jonathan Kuminga, and Kevon Looney in tow, he’s superfluous.

Jordan Poole is an exceptional bucket-getter, but does a team with the Splash Brothers really need more offense?

The common theme with AD is his health. If Davis is injury-free, a squad featuring S. Curry, K. Thompson, A. Wiggins, J. Kuminga, and A. Davis is about as close as you can get to a sure-thing in the NBA. This team could beat the 2015-16 Warriors record-breaking regular season and sweep through the playoffs.

The Lakers make this deal because they’re tired of AD’s injuries, and they think this is more than just bad luck. They believe Davis’s conditioning and motivation play a role in the constant perils he finds himself in.

We’ve established Draymond Green is essentially a non-factor on offense, but his defense landed him in the All-Star game this season, and he’s much more durable than Anthony Davis. No player in the league wants to square up against Green. He’s not just a 110% defender; he somehow goes 120%. His attitude and motor spill over his teammates, wetting them with a defensive fervor that’s contagious. Green’s presence alone transforms the Lakers from a mediocre defensive squad into the top-10.

James Wiseman has only played 39 career games, but he’s oozing with potential. He’s a legit seven-footer who, if nothing else, will be an elite rim protector who can guard the post and switch onto smaller players on the perimeter.

Jordan Poole is averaging 16.4 PPG and has shown that he’s teeming with confidence this season. He doesn’t care if he’s standing next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, two of the best scorers the league has ever seen; he’s still going to put up shots. That self-assurance will serve Poole well next to LBJ and Brodie in Hollywood. Overall, the former Michigan standout, 22, has shown outstanding year-to-year improvement, and if he works his butt off over the 2022 offseason, he could come to La La Land ready to drop 20-plus points nightly, helping the Lakers produce enough buckets to win.

The Lakers trio of L. James, D. Green, J. Wiseman would be the best defensive frontcourt in the league, and it wouldn’t be close. The biggest question mark would be if the Purple and Gold could create enough space for LBJ with four below-average three-point shooters surrounding him. If Green could find his mid-20s shooting stroke and Jordan Poole continues to perfect his outside jumper, this version of the Lakers could make substantial noise in the postseason.


2. The Lakers Receive 2 Fringe All-Star Candidates From Miami

Anthony Davis Heat

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent

Miami Heat Receive: Anthony Davis

Is the combination of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, and Tyler Herro enough to get by the Milwaukee Bucks?

No.

You could suggest the Bucks second best player, Khris Middleton, is as good as the Heat’s best player, Jimmy Butler, and I wouldn’t argue. Both are excellent defenders, and while Butler is a better passer, Middleton has a superior outside stroke. Perhaps Butler’s combination of intensity and strength pushes him ahead of Middleton, but it’s close.

Jrue Holiday and Kyle Lowry are also close, but the Heat’s new point guard is days away from his 36th birthday, and as he’s nowhere near the defender Holiday has become.

Bobby Portis and Tyler Herro play different positions, but Portis’s combination of rim protection and outside shooting is more valuable than Herro’s scoring.

We haven’t mentioned the best player in the world, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is two tiers above Bam Adebayo, and he’s easily the best player out of the group.

Are the Heat better than the Nets?

No.

Ben Simmons is a top-3 defender, and nobody is better equipped to stop Jimmy Butler than the Nets’ new point guard. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be the two best players in this series, and Seth Curry is the most deadly outside marksman on either squad.

The Miami Heat could come out of the east this season. Anything is possible, but they’re massive underdogs, despite sitting atop the standings.

The Heat would jump all over our proposed trade, giving up two valuable fringe All-Star in Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro for the oft-injured Anthony Davis because the mixture of Butler, Davis, Lowry, Robinson, and Tucker has a higher ceiling. This grouping could take down the Bucks or Nets.

Anthony Davis is one of the few players in the world who can match up with Giannis and Durant. He’d raise Miami’s sixth-ranked defense up a notch. And AD’s ability to attack the rim through alley-oops or one-on-one actions would open up the Heat’s offense in a way that Adebayo and Herro can’t.

The Lakers have LeBron James, an MVP candidate and the best playmaker in the league. The Heat lack the type of gravity-bending do-it-all player the Purple and Gold are fortunate enough to have.

A mix of L. James, B. Adebayo, G. Vincent, T. Herro, and R. Westbrook is enough to win a title.

Bam Adebayo isn’t on AD’s level, but he’s averaging 18.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG while holding his assignments to 5.2% under their normal average. Adebayo probably isn’t an All-Star in the crowded Western Conference. Still, unlike AD, he’s a grinder who doesn’t take nights off. Bam takes pride in playing hard-nosed defense and attacking the rim like a beast every moment he’s on the court.

Tyler Herro would instantly become the Lakers’ second-best offensive player. He’s only 22-years-old and averaging 20.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 3.9 APG while shooting 37.4% from deep. Herro is not just a catch-and-shoot player either. He has a solid off-the-dribble game, and he’s better than you think at the rim with an excellent 67.3% mark from 0 to 3 feet.

Gabe Vincent is not a mere throw-in. He’s playing 24.0 minutes per game for the Heat this season, averaging 9.2 PPG while shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc and holding his man to 42.0% from the field. Vincent would be an instant upgrade over Stanley Johnson or Trevor Ariza (if he resigns next season) with his solid on-ball D and nice outside stroke.

The combination of Adebayo, Herro, and Vincent would give the Lakers roughly 50 points per night out of three players who are all 25-years-old or younger, infusing LA with youth, hustle, better overall D, and a little I’m-not-backing-down swagger.


1. The Lakers Get A Genuine Superstar From Portland

Anthony Davis Trail Blazers

Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Anthony Davis

Damian Lillard struggled this season for the Trail Blazers averaging 24.0 points per game while shooting 32.4% from deep through 29 contests. He’s currently out with an abdominal injury that was clearly bothering him during October, November, and December.

Don’t sleep on Lillard.

Seriously, don’t be one of those reactionary knuckleheads who stop using logic.

Players don’t suddenly go from an MVP candidate to an outside-of-the-top-30 athlete overnight. Lillard, 31, will be back next season.

And don’t forget what a fully healthy, fully driven Lillard can do. He’s the same player who averaged 30.0 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 40.1 3P% in 2019-20.

And please don’t talk to me about his playoff failures. Last time I checked, CP3, James Harden, Trae Young, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, and dozens of other veteran guards have never reached the promised land.

Lillard and LeBron James would instantly become the best two-man combo in the league, a 60 point-16 assist juggernaut that would be impossible to stop.

The Lakers would have to ask Russell Westbrook and his $47 million owed to come off the bench as a supercharged sixth man because Brodie and Dame, together, would be too much of a sieve on D.

The Lakers would have Lillard and Talen Horton-Tucker in the starting backcourt, with Stanley Johnson and LeBron James forming a nice forward combo. GM Rob Pelinka would have to go out and find some help at the center position. JaVale McGee, Hassan Whiteside, Serge Ibaka, and Mitchell Robinson will all be unrestricted free agents who could come to Hollywood on a cheap one or two-year deal, helping round out the Purple and Gold’s starting unit.

Portland would get Anthony Davis, a top-10 athlete, to pair with Anfernee Simons, a player who is surging like a nice 6-foot swell rolling through Huntington Beach. Over the last 15 games, Simons is averaging 22.2 PPG, 5.0 APG, and 41.3 3P% while showing excellent off-the-bounce shot-making skills and the ability to become a better-than-average lead guard.

The Trail Blazers shipped out CJ McCollum and Norman Powell, paving the way for Simons, but his fit with Lillard is iffy. Both players work best with the ball in their hands. Simons and AD make more sense.

The Trail Blazers will have a path to significant cap space over the summer. They’ll need to not guarantee recently acquired Eric Bledsoe’s salary next season, and if they trade Lillard for Davis, they will open up more cap space because AD will make $5 million less than Dame in 2022-23. The Trail Blazers should have close to max money available to chase a combination of Bobby Portis and T. J. Warren to add depth, or maybe to land Deandre Ayton or Zach LaVine on a max deal.

The twosome of Anthony Davis and Anfernee Simons with recent additions, Josh Hart and Justise Winslow, would be a fantastic start to a more defensive-minded group in Portland, and the Trail Blazers could make some serious racket next year if they add another superstar or a few excellent role players.

The Lakers 2022 Offseason Should Be Interesting

Nobody knows what will happen over the next couple of months, but with Anthony Davis out again, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers finding enough rhythm on offense and the ability to get enough stops on defense to climb out of the play-in tourney. The Purple and Gold should make the playoffs with LeBron James guiding the ship and Russell Westbrook slowly playing better, but they could be in for a quick death at the hands of the Suns or Warriors in the first round.

If the Purple and Gold do indeed flail out of the postseason in the first round again, there will be fireworks over the summer. With Russell Westbrook’s contract heading north of $45 million, it’s hard to imagine any organization making a deal for him. Trading Anthony Davis might be the only legitimate recourse the Lakers have to upgrade their roster.

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