In terms of this question, there seems to be only one answer that circulates around NBA fans, and that is for the Lakers to trade their young core for Anthony Davis and to sign another free agent this Summer to team up with James and Davis. But, that might not be the easiest way of going around to saving the Lakers. There are a few different potential obstacles that might face the Lakers if they go the route of getting Davis, and they are as follows:
- It is known that the Pelicans will want a LOT for Davis even with the new GM. You’re looking at giving up 3-4 players, at least 3 future first round picks, and that includes the #4 pick in the upcoming draft. You’re looking at a potential Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce situation.
- There is now the potential that the Pelicans will not even want to trade Davis anymore. They did just get the first overall pick, which means that they have the right to draft Zion Williamson.
- The Pelicans have the potential to trade away salaries in Solomon Hill and Jrue Holiday for draft picks and 2 or 3 players who’s salaries combine to about 7 or 8 million, the Pelicans would then be able to draft Williamson and sign a free agent like Kemba Walker or even Kyrie Irving (trust me, Irving will see the appeal). They could then roll out a starting lineup of Irving/Kemba, Elfrid Payton, Zion, Julius Randle, and Davis. Why would they ruin a chance to rebuild into a potential title contender in just one offseason?
Well, there are other options for the Lakers. But first a little explanation. Basketball is a team game, no matter what people like Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless say. Some of the best teams in basketball history have 3 things, and those 3 things are a great guard, a great forward, and a great center. Some examples include the Bulls with Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman. Then there is the Lakers with Magic, Worthy, and Kareem.
I agree with trading for a star player, but I don’t think it should be Davis. Based on the explanation above, you need to aim for a center or a guard because you already have the great forward in James. A team that is just kind of treading water right now is the Memphis Grizzlies, who I believe after getting the second overall pick will choose to rebuild. So, if you give them 2 future picks along with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers just might be able to acquire Mike Conley. The only requirement is to make sure the Lakers keep their #4 overall pick, as it can be used to draft someone like Reddish, Hunter, or Culver.
Now in terms of a free agent, you should go for a center if you are targeting Conley in a trade. The main issue is that there are not many good centers to choose from. You have aging stars in Marc Gasol, Al Horford, and Nene Hilario. You also have injury riddled players like Demarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard. But there is one star that has no chance of winning and might be attracted to playing in LA with LeBron and Conley (if you can trade for him). That player is Nikola Vucevic.
If the Lakers can pull off both of these moves, you have 2 great players to pair with LeBron. Vucevic has the ability to score 25 points and get 12 rebounds a night while also hitting about 2 threes a game. Conley had a career season this year, scoring 20 points and getting 6 assists a night, and who’s to say that he can’t repeat that in LA. Both players are able to hit the three, too, as both shot around 34% from the 3-point line.
As we have seen in the past, the Lakers are never afraid to pay the luxury tax, and could definitely go back to that for next season. If they decide to, they could go for a shooting guard that can space the floor and score off the catch-and-shoot. You have your choice between Danny Green and JJ Redick, and personally I would go with JJ. He has experience playing with many star players and has never missed the playoffs in his career.
The Lakers appear to be in no-mans land, but can very quickly get out of it. They just need to surround LeBron with star players that will still understand that LeBron is the main guy on the team. If they can do something along these lines instead of what they are aiming to do, the Lakers will have a much greater chance of winning a title with LeBron in Los Angeles. Mind you, this is just an opinion. Just because I am saying it does not mean it is the best solution, or that it will work. But I believe that if the Lakers can surround LeBron with Conley, Vucevic, and Redick, they will be a title contender in at most 2 seasons.