Ever since LeBron James signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers back in July 2018, the topic of conversation surrounding who will be the second superstar to line up beside him has been one of intense speculation. It was widely expected that Paul George would be the man to pair up with James, as he also entered free agency after what appeared to be a rental period in Oklahoma. However, the Lakers’ approach of waiting on him backfired with George opting to remain with the Thunder.
In 2019 free agency, there are various stars available to pursue, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler. Leonard reportedly possesses a desire to play in Los Angeles but it may be for the city rivals, the Clippers. Durant does seem an option, however he made comments recently about the ‘toxic’ environment in Los Angeles, to James’ disproval. Whilst Thompson and Irving seem set to stay with the Warriors and Celtics, respectively. As for Jimmy Butler, well you never know where he could end up next.
The worst-case scenario would be the Lakers striking out in free agency, and this is entirely possible. Such scenario would heap an enormous amount of pressure on Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to make a significant move, fast.
This leads onto the option of acquiring arguably one of the most talented and sought-after stars in the current NBA landscape, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. The 25-year-old has the full arsenal, this season Davis is averaging 28.5 points per game, along with 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.6 blocks. Such numbers have propelled Davis into the MVP conversation, and it is no wonder that he is in demand by big market teams as they aim to overthrow the Golden State Warriors.
Although, the 6-foot-10 superstar out of Kentucky will not hit free agency until the summer of 2020 and the Pelicans have not yet expressed any indication that they will be trading away their marquee player. Whilst Davis undoubtedly has been performing at an unbelievably high level for several years now, the Pelicans have only reached the playoffs once during Davis’ time in New Orleans. This season the Pelicans sit second from bottom in a packed West Conference, with a record of 18-22.
Anthony Davis has remained nothing but professional when quizzed about his future in New Orleans, as it appears that he holds a great deal of respect towards the organisation, the city, and the fans. Whilst this is admirable, it is now time for Davis to start taking care of his own future due to him being 25-years-old, about to enter the prime years of his career. He has started to control his own destiny, as he recently joined forces with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents LeBron James.
Whilst Davis is still in New Orleans, the Pelicans will tempt him with a $239.5 million ‘super-max’ contract extension in the summer of 2019, $87.3 million more than can be offered elsewhere. There is no doubt that that is a lot of money, but Davis recently stated that he would take legacy over money. Interesting, right? Does this mean that it is a possibility that we could see the Chicago-born superstar in the purple and gold? The Lakers can certainly offer Davis a legacy, following in the footsteps of the greats such as George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal. Davis deserves to be fighting for championships year in, year out. It is as simple as that.
With the recent speculation that LeBron caused when implying that he would be all for the Lakers acquiring Anthony Davis, there is some understanding sympathy for GMs of smaller market teams who complained about James’ comments. The situation they find themselves in attempting to retain top talent is difficult but there is little that can be done, after all the best players want to play for teams in championship contention, and that can be understood as well.
From the Lakers’ perspective, LeBron James has just turned 34-years-old and is currently on the sideline nursing a groin injury. We may not want to admit it, but his time at the top will not go on forever and whilst Anthony Davis is a generational talent, his leadership skills and ability to lead a team in the face of adversity is yet to be seen. However, a transition post-LeBron to Davis would be more than ideal for the Lakers, keeping the franchise relevant at the very top of the NBA for years to come.
Then again, other teams will have their eyes set on the big prize in Davis. Namely the Boston Celtics who have been reported as having more assets to offer than the Lakers but are unable to make a move until the summer. Although, all parties are aware that Davis has the power of his future in his own hands. One thing is for sure, Magic and Pelinka will be keeping tracks on the situation materialising in New Orleans.