Lakers Rumors: Insiders Asking If Anthony Davis Is Traded Before Contract Is Up

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 24, 2021

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 09: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on December 09, 2021 in Memphis, Tennessee. 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 Justin Ford/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers are limited in ways they can help the roster, which is a potentially massive deal given the ticking clock attached to 36-year-old superstar LeBron James.

Could that nudge them toward the nuclear option of an Anthony Davis deal? As extreme as that sounds, it might not be completely off the table.

Veteran NBA scribe Marc Stein said the combination of this rocky present and the uncertainty of life after LeBron has people wondering if a Brow blockbuster might be in the works at some point (h/t HoopsHype):

"They had the six worst seasons in franchise history before they got LeBron and who knows? It could be equally bumpy when the LeBron-AD era is over. I think that's why you've kind of started hearing and it's all very speculative… I want to stress that I have not heard anything to this effect. But you do start to hear that. People are asking the question, 'Will they trade AD before his contract runs out so they don't end up on that position?'"

That seems...extreme, and it's worth noting we don't know who's asking that question.

Is the inquiry coming from someone inside of—quickly Googles the new name—the Crypto.com Arena, or are these rival executives hoping the Lakers eventually pull the plug? That makes a difference.

Timing is important, too.

Davis' contract won't expire before 2024; he holds a $43.2 million player option for 2024-25, per Spotrac. Do people actually think a Davis-involved mega-deal could go down this trade season, or is it something where, about two years from now, a 39-year-old James clearly can't lead a championship charge anymore, and the Lakers use Davis' then-expiring contract just to restock the shelves for some rough years ahead?

A Davis deal seems impossible at the moment, if for no other reason than the fact he still has the ceiling of a top-five talent. And when both he and James have it rolling, their games match like clothing articles from the same outfit.

Then again, the Lakers might be flawed beyond repair—they're a dismal 23rd in net efficiency rating, per NBA.com—and it's possible they eventually decide a Davis deal is their only way out.

James isn't getting traded, and neither is Russell Westbrook with his colossal contract. Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn theoretically could, but they don't have the pull to bring an elite player back to L.A.

Davis' own trade value is tricky to calculate since he wasn't super productive (at least, not by his standards) before an MCL sprain forced him out for the next four-plus weeks. The fact he forced a trade from New Orleans to L.A. might not sit well with most suitors, either.

Having said that, teams would still trip over themselves in a rush to reach the Davis sweepstakes. The No. 1 pick from the 2012 draft is 28 years old and already an NBA champion, an eight-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA selection.

That is exactly the reason why the Lakers should roster him as long as possible. A flawed supporting cast isn't a reason to sacrifice a superstar—not in this league, where stars dominate and consistently lead top-heavy teams farther than deeper squads with fewer stars.

A Davis deal is a fascinating hypothetical, and it would surely net the Lakers some interesting assets. But it almost certainly wouldn't fetch a player of his caliber, since few even exist and are virtually always unavailable.