Davis, who signed a five-year, $190 million contract with the Lakers in December 2020, has only played in 76 games over the last two seasons due to injuries.
To win a second championship with LeBron James, the Lakers need a talented wing scorer and someone who can play stout perimeter defense and it just so happens that the Boston Celtics have both of those players. Under CBA rules, the Lakers could trade Davis to the Celtics for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
Brown averaged 23.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season for the Celtics, who lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games. The one-time All-Star shot 47.3% from the field, 35.8% from beyond the arc and 75.8% from the free-throw line.
Smart, meanwhile, averaged 12.1 points, 3.8 boards and 5.9 assists while shooting 41.8% overall, 33.1% from 3-point land and 79.3% from the charity stripe. The 28-year-old became the first guard since Hall of Famer Gary Payton to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
If the Lakers trade Davis to the Celtics for Brown and Smart, new head coach Darvin Ham could throw out a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Smart, Brown, James and Thomas Bryant and have Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schroder, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Kendrick Nunn, Lonnie Walker IV, Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr. and Austin Reaves lead the bench.
Davis Is Talented, but He Can’t Stay Healthy
Davis is one of the best players in the NBA. He has career averages of 23.8 points and 10.2 rebounds and was named one of the top 75 players of all time last season.
However, the Chicago native can’t seem to stay healthy.
Davis appeared in only 40 games in 2021-22. He missed 17 consecutive games from late December until late January after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then in mid-February, Davis sustained a right foot injury versus the Utah Jazz, causing him to miss 18 straight games.
Davis has averaged 24.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks in 138 regular-season games with the Lakers, but he hasn’t proven that he can be counted on to stay healthy for an entire season.
James will turn 38 in December and the 2022-23 season will be his 20th campaign in the NBA. Meanwhile, Davis will turn 30 in March and has less mileage on his body than James, who has played in 10 Finals. The Lakers need Davis, not James, to be their best player if they want to win another championship. However, Davis’ track record lately shows that he’s more likely to get hurt than carry Los Angeles’ offense.
That’s why the purple and gold should call the Celtics and offer Davis for Brown and Smart. Boston may decline the offer, but since Brown and Smart were mentioned in Kevin Durant trade rumors, the franchise may be open to moving them for Davis, who averaged 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds last season.
Can Lakers Get Brown & Keep Davis?
Brown signed a four-year, $106.3 million rookie contract extension with the Celtics in October 2019. The swingman is eligible to sign an extension with Boston starting on October 1st.
According to an Eastern Conference executive who spoke with Heavy’s Sean Deveney in August, Brown could sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2024 “because he’d want to play with LeBron.” If the Lakers know that, they should keep Davis and try to pair Brown with AD and LBJ.
“Obviously, a star comes up when the Lakers have cap space and there is going to be that speculation,” the executive told Deveney. “There are players who want to play for the Lakers because they’re the Lakers and they’re in L.A., but I don’t think Brown is an L.A. guy that way. It’s more just because he’d want to play with LeBron, if LeBron was going to stay there, if Davis stays healthy, if they are back to competing in the West and not just trying to make a play-in. That’s the lure for anyone in that free-agent class.”
The Lakers will have the cap space needed to sign a player of Brown’s caliber in the summer of 2024. James and Davis are the only players under contract for the 2024-25 season.