When the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the 2019-20 season, the expectation was that he’d team up with LeBron James for many years.
James had just joined the Lakers the previous summer as a free agent from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He wanted a star running partner in Southern California.
It has worked out to an extent. The two led Los Angeles to the NBA title during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. Since then, it’s been completely downhill — leading to speculation that the Lakers might move Davis this summer.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst discussed that during his appearance on “Get Up” Tuesday. The NBA insider, who has been linked a lot to LeBron James’ camp throughout his career, reported that he believes the Lakers will discuss an Anthony Davis trade this summer.
“I think it will be something that’s discussed,” Windhorst said of the Lakers potentially looking to move AD.
All of this comes with the Lakers in the midst of a lost season. They currently sit at 31-43 with eight games remaining. In fact, Los Angeles heads into Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks just a half game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for a spot in the play-in tournament.
As for Davis, he’s been sidelined the past 16 games with a foot injury. That came after he missed 17 games earlier in the campaign to another injury. All said, Davis has played in a total of 73 outings since he helped Los Angeles win the title in the Orlando Bubble to conclude the 2019-20 campaign.
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Will LeBron James force an Anthony Davis trade this summer?
It seems ridiculous on the surface. A player having that much power. But let’s not forget who we are talking about here. James has been a power broker dating back to his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That extended to his run in South Beach with the Miami Heat, his second stint in Ohio and his current career in Southern California.
The interesting dynamic here is that Los Angeles’ brass pushed back against making a move ahead of the February 10 NBA trade deadline — potentially creating a rift between the front office and King James in the process.
“My interpretation was that the Lakers’ front office and ownership — the Lakers’ organization from ownership on down — decided, ‘You guys got yourselves into this; this is the bed that you made. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, all of the future Hall-of-Famers: This was your choice of roster and team, go make it work.”
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This has led to more-recent reports that a rift has grown between the Lakers and the face of their franchise. Remember, James can opt out of his deal following the 2022-23 season and become a free agent.
What does this all mean? The four-time NBA champion might have some renewed power if he pushes back against a contract extension this summer — potentially forcing the Lakers hands into moving Davis.
Related: Ideal Anthony Davis trade scenarios
Would NBA teams have interest in an Anthony Davis trade?
The answer to this question would be a resounding yes. Even large-market teams without star power would be interested in what Davis brings to the table.
- Anthony Davis stats (career): 23.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 52% shooting
Despite his bloated contract, AD would draw interest on the trade market. That list likely wouldn’t be limited to large-market teams like the New York Knicks and his hometown Chicago Bulls.
The only question here is whether Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka could make it work. That is to say, finding a championship-caliber supporting cast for James in an Anthony Davis trade while still being able to move off the albatross that is the Russell Westbrook contract.
Either way, we expect major changes in Southern California with the Lakers finishing up one of the most disappointing seasons in modern franchise history.