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Lakers Rumors: Top Trade Buzz Involving Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the Western Conference playoff mix after several seasons out of contention, and they are inevitably getting linked to some big-name players who could potentially make them championship contenders.

Signing LeBron James during the offseason was a franchise-changing move for L.A., but it currently lacks a second established superstar to put the team over the top.

While the Lakers may have to wait until the offseason in order to land one, they are constantly part of the trade rumor mill, and they figure to be heavily linked to some big names until the trade deadline passes.

With the Lakers slowly climbing up the Western Conference standings at 11-9, here is a look at some of the latest rumors involving the organization and players who may soon become available via trade or free agency.

       

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis is the NBA's most dominant big man, but his future with the New Orleans Pelicans is often a topic of discussion.

While Davis is under contract for 2019-20 and has a player option for the following season, the lack of a long-term extension means teams will likely circle him like vultures in hopes of convincing the Pels to move him.

According to Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports, Davis joining the Lakers has been "in the works for years," but he noted that it is far from guaranteed that something will get done between them.

The Boston Celtics have been linked to Davis plenty, and Sheridan pointed out that Boston would be able to send the Pelicans far more in a trade than the Lakers could.

It is also possible that the Pelicans could beef up their roster and convince Davis to stay for the long haul.

The 25-year-old Davis is already a five-time All-Star, and he is quickly becoming a perennial MVP candidate.

So far this season, Davis is averaging 27.0 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.7 blocks per game for a Pelicans team that is off to an uneven start at 10-11.

If the Lakers do attempt to put together a trade package for Davis, young players such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart would likely be part of it.

All of them boast immense potential, but they all have a ton of developing left to do.

Meanwhile, a trade with Boston could yield New Orleans players like Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown, both of whom are seemingly further along in their development than the Lakers' youngsters.

A LeBron-Davis combo would possibly make the Lakers the team to beat in the NBA, but prying him away from the Pels will likely be a major challenge.

      

Jimmy Butler

The Philadelphia 76ers made a win-now move when they recently acquired Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves for a trade package headlined by Robert Covington and Dario Saric.

Minnesota kicked the tires on several possible trades during the offseason, and Butler reportedly showed interest in multiple teams.

According to Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, the Lakers were one of the teams Butler had interest in joining, but they didn't have the contracts needed to match salary and make a deal at the time.

Pincus also noted that while the Lakers liked Butler, he was lower on their wish list than Davis, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard.

Butler has been productive in seven games with the Sixers thus far, averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals.

The four-time All-Star is seemingly a strong complement to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, although the 76ers did recently lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Even so, Philly is third in the Eastern Conference at 14-8 and is undoubtedly a contender to reach the NBA Finals.

Butler has a player option for next season, meaning he can become a free agent and potentially leave the Sixers after less than a season.

If that happens, the Lakers may turn into an ideal landing spot provided they are unable to secure Durant, Thompson or Leonard.

Butler is a solid, two-way player who would take some pressure off LeBron, and signing him in free agency would prevent the Lakers from having to give up any assets like the 76ers did to secure him.

         

Khris Middleton

He may not be a big name among casual NBA fans, but Milwaukee Bucks small forward Khris Middleton could be a perfect fit alongside LeBron in L.A.

The Bucks are unlikely to trade Middleton since they're a top contender in the Eastern Conference, but he can become a free agent during the offseason if he declines his player option as expected.

According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, both the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will reportedly have interest in Middleton as a free agent. Deveney added that the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Cavs could be in the mix as well.

Middleton is an excellent shooter and defender who is in the midst of another strong season after enjoying a career year in 2017-18.

So far this season, Middleton is averaging 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor and a scorching 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Middleton has yet to be named an All-Star, and signing him likely wouldn't send shock waves through the NBA in the same way that acquiring Davis, Durant or Leonard would.

There is no guarantee the Lakers will be able to sign or trade for a true superstar, though, and Middleton would be the next best thing.

The best way to utilize James' talents is by surrounding him with shooters, and Middleton has developed into one of the NBA's best long-range marksmen.

Middleton could drive his price up significantly depending on how deep he and the Bucks go in the playoffs, but there is little doubt that he will have a huge market during the summer regardless.

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