The 2019-20 season was a banner campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers. In Anthony Davis’ first year with the team, the purple and gold won the championship over the Miami Heat in the Walt Disney World bubble, with LeBron James winning his fourth Finals MVP Award.
In December 2020, both LeBron and Davis signed new contracts with the Lakers. The King signed a two-year, $85.7 million extension, while the Brow signed a five-year, $189.9 million deal. With their two superstars locked up for the foreseeable future, it appeared the Lakers were primed to win multiple championships.
However, LeBron and Davis were plagued by injuries during the 2020-21 season. The former only played in 45 games and the latter appeared in just 36. The Lakers went 42-30 and needed to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the play-in game to qualify for the 2021 playoffs.
After beating the Warriors, the Lakers faced the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. They took a 2-1 lead after winning Game 3 at home and things were looking good for the LakeShow. However, Davis suffered a left groin strain in Game 4 and exited the contest.
The Suns wound up winning Games 4, 5 and 6, handing LeBron the first first-round exit of his legendary career.
The Lakers retooled the roster last summer, acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards and signing Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn, DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza, Avery Bradley, Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington in free agency. With LeBron, Westbrook and Davis leading the way, Los Angeles was projected to compete for the championship this season.
However, the Lakers have been a walking disaster in 2021-22. They are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings and played so poorly on February 27 against the New Orleans Pelicans that the fans at Crypto.com Arena booed them.
Despite LeBron putting up incredible numbers, the Lakers won’t win the championship. Since LBJ is getting older and becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023 and Davis has proven to be injury-prone, some people in the NBA believe Los Angeles needs to make a seismic move this summer.
Should the Lakers Trade LeBron & Davis?
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, some people around the NBA think the Lakers need to embark on a full rebuild and trade LeBron and Davis this offseason.
“People in the league who have a lot of experience say they should trade them both,” Windhorst said on his podcast. “And because again, it makes some sense. I just don’t think they can do that and I think this is going to be a severe, serious conversation that probably could hang over Lakers games.”
The Lakers don’t have any first-round picks in the 2022 draft. As it stands, they have two first-round picks in 2027 and 2029. Trading LeBron and Davis this summer could change that, so it will be interesting if Los Angeles vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka considers doing that.
LeBron has been traded once during his Hall of Fame career. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat agreed to a sign-and-trade deal in 2010 when LeBron went to South Beach. Meanwhile, Davis was traded by the Pelicans to the Lakers in 2019 after he requested a trade during the 2018-19 season.
It sounds absurd, but the Lakers should consider trading LeBron over Davis this offseason if they continue on a downward spiral this season for a couple of reasons.
Trading LeBron and Keeping Davis Makes Sense
If the Lakers don’t make the playoffs this season, Pelinka may have to trade LeBron in the summer. He can keep Davis and build around the Chicago native since AD is only 28.
Moving on from LeBron would make some sense since the Lakers can get draft picks and players for him and avoid the risk of losing the four-time MVP for nothing in 2023.
LeBron told Jason Lloyd of The Athletic that he wants to play with his son, Bronny, in the NBA. Bronny won’t be draft-eligible until 2024 and it doesn’t look like there’s a way for LeBron and his son to play together on the Lakers since the franchise doesn’t have any first-round picks until 2027.
With that said, a LeBron trade this summer may be beneficial for the player and team.