The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in the summer of 2019, giving LeBron James the superstar teammate he needed to win the 2020 NBA title.
Since signing Davis to a five-year, $189.9 million contract in December 2020, the Lakers have gone 75-79 in two seasons, failing to advance past the first round of the playoffs in one and missing the playoffs altogether in the other. Some Los Angeles fans wonder if the team should look to trade the injury-prone Davis, who has played in only 76 games the last two years.
Greg Patuto of NBA Analysis Network recently proposed that the Lakers trade Davis to the Phoenix Suns for Deandre Ayton, Jae Crowder and two future draft picks. The trade would be a sign-and-trade deal given that Ayton is expected to become a restricted free agent this summer.
“Adding a better shooting threat in the frontcourt like Ayton would be an intriguing option for the Lakers,” Patuto wrote. “It also wouldn’t hurt to add a 3-and-D wing like Jae Crowder. In the frontcourt, Ayton has improved with Chris Paul running the show. He would also have a chance to progress under LeBron James.
“The main concern in Phoenix is whether or not the two sides will be able to get a contract extension done. He’s been well-deserving of a max extension, but it did not happen before the season. When looking at this deal as a whole, the Lakers would improve drastically on both ends of the floor. They would be selling a center with injury problems for two young players who are looking like stars for years to come.”
Ayton, the 2018 No. 1 overall pick, averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds for the Suns this season while shooting 63.4% from the field and 36.8% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Crowder put up 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists while shooting 34.8% from 3-point land.
FanSided Insider Doesn’t Like This Deal for Lakers
Davis is one of the best players in the NBA when healthy. He has career averages of 23.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists and has made eight All-Star teams, four All-NBA teams and four All-Defensive teams.
The biggest issue with Davis is his body. He’s never played in more than 75 games in a season. Despite his injury history, though, FanSided insider Jason Reed believes the Lakers should pass on this hypothetical trade involving the Suns.
“While on the surface it seems like a good package to get a former first overall pick, a role player and two draft picks for an oft-injured Davis, the Lakers should pass on this potential trade package,” Reed wrote. “While Ayton is definitely talented, he is not someone who can be the second-best player on a title-contending team. He is undoubtedly important to the Phoenix Suns but in trading him to Los Angeles, he would have to become the second-best player next to LeBron James and it simply won’t work out.
“The Lakers struggle with floor-spacing already with Davis on the roster and it would only be worse with Ayton. He is a traditional rim-running big who does play good defense and is an offensive outlet, but as we see time and time again with the Utah Jazz, you cannot have this defensive-minded anchor center as the second-best player in the playoffs.”
Davis’ inability to stay healthy has to be worrisome for the Lakers moving forward. However, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto doesn’t see Davis getting traded since the Kentucky product has a “good relationship” with James.
Scotto: I Don’t Think Lakers Will Trade Davis
Davis and James share the same agent. They are close friends off the court and won a championship together.
Davis is undoubtedly injury-prone, but Scotto doesn’t believe the Lakers will move on from him this offseason.
“LeBron and Anthony Davis believe they can be the foundation of a contender when they’re both fully healthy,” Scotto said on his podcast. “I know that’s a bit of an asterisk with Davis in particular. LeBron has missed some time over the past few years, but generally speaking, he’s pretty healthy. Some people wondered if the Lakers would consider dangling Davis. I personally don’t see that. People have to write stuff. I see the two of them remaining in unison together. Ultimately, Davis went to Klutch Sports to facilitate the trade to get to the Lakers in the first place. He and LeBron have a good relationship.”
The Lakers are 75-33 in the regular season since 2019-20 when James and Davis play. Los Angeles is widely expected to try to trade Russell Westbrook this summer, but James and Davis will likely be back.