Recent trade discussions between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns for Trevor Ariza broke down because the Lakers refused to include any members of their young core. The Lakers remained hopeful of landing Ariza amid their refusal to include young assets, consequently talks fell apart and 33-year-old ended up being traded to the Washington Wizards, in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers.
Why did the Lakers refuse to include any members of their young core in trade talks? Well, something bigger could be brewing.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski claims that the Lakers are stockpiling assets so they can make a move for superstar Anthony Davis, in the hope that he gets placed on the trade block by his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
Wojnarowski stated the following on the Woj/Lowe podcast, about the Lakers:
“They’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season because they have to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer either pre- or post-free agency.”
The Lakers’ timeline accelerated following the signing of LeBron James in 2018 free agency, and whilst it is clear that the ambition is there to raise another championship banner in the rafters of the Staples Center whilst LeBron James is in Los Angeles, there is also the desire for the team to stay relevant beyond James’ tenure.
Anthony Davis could very well be the answer for the Lakers, he would immediately raise the ceiling of the current roster, propelling them into the championship contenders mix. Additionally, the 25-year-old generational talent could be the man to become the face of the franchise when the time comes for LeBron to move on, whether it be retirement or through other means.
The general consensus is that the Lakers will wait until the summer of 2019 to make a move for Davis, although it might be best for the team to make a punt at landing the 6-foot-10 power forward before the February 7th trade-deadline. Longtime rivals of the Lakers, the Boston Celtics appear as another suiter to trade for Davis, as they host many assets that may be appealing for the Pelicans.
However, the Celtics are unable to make a move until the summer due to the “5th Year 30% Max Criteria” rule, otherwise known as the “Rose Rule”. Introduced in 2011, the ruling allows for players coming off their rookie contracts to sign for a high percentage of their team’s salary cap (30%, instead of 25%), if the player becomes either an MVP, two-time All-NBA Team selection or gets voted an All-Star starter. Anthony Davis fits this criteria.
Why does this affect the Celtics’ chances of landing Davis? Well, teams in the NBA are not allowed to trade for two players signed using the Rose Rule. Boston already possesses one such player on its roster in point guard, Kyrie Irving. Irving was signed using the Rose Rule in 2014 by his then team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. As long as the 26-year-old point guard is on his current contract, which ends in the summer, the Celtics are unable to trade for Anthony Davis. This gives the Lakers a window until the February trade deadline, to make an unrivaled move for Davis if they wish.
Davis will not be an unrestricted free agent until the summer of 2021, however as the time nears the Pelicans will face huge pressure on whether they want to chance the five-time All-Star walking away for nothing, or cash in on his talents. Obviously, this depends on whether Davis states his intent to play elsewhere and move on from the Pelicans. If so, the Lakers appear to be one of the few locations that hosts the pieces to tempt New Orleans to part-ways with their superstar.
What do you think, should the Lakers trade for Anthony Davis or keep developing their young core? Let us know on Twitter over at @lakersfanclubuk.
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)