Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Anthony Davis, LeBron James and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 30, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 22:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Smoothie King Center on March 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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The LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers look a lot like what we expected.

They've had both rough patches and high notes, with little consistency beyond their ability to generate a wealth of talking points.

The latest blurbs might be as interesting as they come. Let's dig in.


Anthony Davis To L.A. "In The Works?"

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 22:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans drives against Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at the Smoothie King Center on March 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Some dreams feel impossibly big. Say, coveting an all-galaxy superstar who's under contract with his current club through at least 2020, perhaps.

But remember, these are the Lakers. No dreams are too big for the Purple and Gold—a message that was hammered home by the King's arrival.

That makes this tidbit from GetMoreSports.com's Chris Sheridan all the more interesting:

Chris Sheridan @sheridanhoops

I am told that @AntDavis23 to the @Lakers has been in the works for years. That does not mean it is a certainty, because @Celtics can give up much, much more ... and it all depends on whether the @PelicansNBA are able to beef up their roster between now and February. https://t.co/nvhGKp52CS

With all due respect to James—the greatest player ever in the eyes of many (including this writer)—Anthony Davis could be an even more critical addition.

While the 33-year-old James is (masterfully) fighting off Father Time, the 25-year-old Davis is a long way from even beginning that battle. And much like the King, Davis is a statistical savant.

An All-NBA first-teamer in three of the past four seasons, Davis might be displaying his highest gear to date. His 12.9 rebounds per game are a career-high. Ditto for his 4.8 assists and 1.6 steals. And his 27.1 points and 2.7 blocks both outpace his career averages.

Add it all together and you're talking about nearly unprecedented production.

Of course, you're also talking about some of the biggest reasons for his employer, the New Orleans Pelicans, to want to keep him around as long as possible. They've made it clear they have zero intention of moving him, and they can offer him a record-setting extension next summer.

In other words, expectations are best tempered for now. But if things change in the Big Easy, it sounds like the Lakers could have as good a chance as anyone of landing another transformational talent.


LeBron Ignoring Luke Walton?

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Luke Walton during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on November 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
Harry How/Getty Images

The relationship between James and his head coach is always among the most scrutinized in all of sports.

But the scrutiny may have gone up a notch this season. James has never played in a bigger market or with a more storied franchise. He's also playing for a coach in Luke Walton who's less than five years his senior and working under dramatically different conditions than when he was hired.

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of eyes on both James and Walton. And that's led to an interesting observation about their evolving dynamic, as relayed by ESPN's Brian Windhorst:

"The scouts also have noticed that when James is running the point, he rarely looks toward the bench to receive playcalls from coach Luke Walton. Even when he sees them, the scouts say, he ignores them and runs the play he prefers. Walton has adjusted, and now when James is running the show, Walton will typically just let him call the game. This probably shouldn't be considered a slight—it's just James being James."

As Windhorst noted, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Having James comfortable is critical to the Lakers' success, and this might be the best way to do it. Plus, Walton's subsequent adjustments could mean extra brownie points in building this relationship.

Even though James has exerted more control of late, L.A. has still done a good job of limiting his exposure. His 35.0 minutes per game are the fewest he's ever averaged.


Khris Middleton on the 2019 Radar?

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 11: Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 11, 2017 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

While the juiciest 2019 rumors for the Lakers involve the most ambitious plans—like trading for Davis or signing Kevin Durant—there are a number of ways in which this franchise can utilize its financial flexibility.

One option that will reportedly be considered is pursuing free-agent-to-be Khris Middleton, sources told Sporting News' Sean Deveney.

Middleton might not be a household name, but his play suggests he should be. Once lauded as a three-and-D ace, he has expanded his offensive arsenal to the point he's averaging 19.9 points and 4.0 assists since the start of last season.

"He is as good a two-way wing as Klay [Thompson]," a general manager told Deveney. "Nearly as good a shooter, as good a defender, a better playmaker. You can run things through him more than you can do with Klay. Khris would be as big a star as Klay if he were playing in Golden State, and he's probably going to get similar money."

Deveney projects Middleton collecting roughly a five-year, $190 million deal from the Milwaukee Bucks or a four-year, $140 million pact from someone else. As much money as that is, it could prove a valuable investment for the Lakers.

Middleton can function as both a floor-spacer for James and an offensive fulcrum when LeBron takes a seat. Not to mention, Middleton's defensive versatility would bring the Lakers closer to their vision of playing positionless basketball.