Some are calling for a major shake-up for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. During a recent episode of ESPN NBA Countdown, two former players, Jalen Rose and Jay Williams, discussed a hypothetical trade scenario for the Lakers to explore. Williams posed a question to Rose on what he would prefer if he was LeBron James assuming the Lakers could swap Anthony Davis for Damian Lillard in a trade.
“You know we play these games, if you can give up A.D. for Dame, and you’re LeBron James would you do it?” Williams asked.
Rose admitted that he would “absolutely” trade Davis for Lillard if he were the Lakers. The longtime NBA swingman noted that he views Davis as a top-ten player but believes the big man should not be in the top-five conversation.
“So, with the queen Maria Taylor, we’ve sat at this table, and I’ve had to stop people from saying A.D. was a top-5 player,” Rose responded. “[I’ve] said he is a top-10 player, that Dame was closer to being a top-five player. That was before this year. That was before the bubble, all of that, right? I’m taking Dame, no doubt about it. You call me, and you want to trade me Dame, right now? If you ain’t going to give me Steph [Curry], give me Dame. Absolutely, you can take A.D.”
Several NBA Teams Are Reportedly ‘Intensely Monitoring’ Lillard’s Situation
There has been a lot of speculation about Lillard’s future, most of which has been jump-started by a cryptic social media message the guard posted after the Blazers lost to the Nuggets in the first round. Lillard is about to begin the first season of a four-year, $176 million contract extension he signed, meaning the superstar is slated to be in Portland through the 2024-25 season.
We know in today’s NBA that just because a superstar is under contract does not mean the player cannot force their way to another team if they are unhappy. Lillard’s chances to land with the Lakers or another team would likely depend on whether the superstar demands a trade. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported several teams in major markets are “intensely monitoring” Lillard’s potential availability but did not specify if the Lakers were among these franchises.
“Sources say several NBA teams — including those in the top markets — are already intensely monitoring this situation in Portland and how it develops to look for an opening to make trade offers,” Charania noted.
Stephen A. Smith Believes the Lakers Are a Team to Watch in the Lillard Sweepstakes
The one-for-one All-Star swap Williams suggested would have worked under the salary cap last season, but Lillard is set to have a pay raise in 2021-22 with a $39.3 million salary. Davis will make $35.3 million next season, so the Lakers would need to add players to the deal to make it work.
“Just had somebody reach out to me, one of the players. Apparently, a lot of people have been eliminated over the last couple of days as you all know and as a result, especially when Damian Lillard got eliminated last night, several calls have come their way,” Smith explained on ESPN. “You got a lot of teams, about six or seven different teams, who believe they can get their hands on him [Lillard]. They think they’ve got a shot. One of them includes the Knicks, who is scheduled to have about $75 million in cap space along with some picks, but also the Clippers, the Miami Heat and who knows what the Lakers may try to do. Stay tuned, the Damian Lillard news could ultimately be percolating a little bit sooner than later, much to my surprise.”
The Blazers likely prefer to keep Lillard over almost any other NBA player they could acquire, including Davis. Unless Lillard demands a trade, the Lakers’ chances of landing the All-Star are slim, but we can expect the rumors to continue throughout the offseason.