While much has been made about the Los Angeles Lakers potentially trading Russell Westbrook, the team’s real chance at improving the roster depends on their stance regarding Anthony Davis’ future. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons has Davis at No. 12 in his newly released trade value rankings, suggesting the Lakers big man still has plenty of appeal around the league despite his injury history. Just behind Davis is Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler at No. 13.
A hypothetical swap of Davis and Butler would have to give both teams reason to pause for consideration.
“But I know that Jimmy Butler, who is 15th on this list [later moved up to No. 13], who is proven himself to be one of the better big game guys of this generation,” Simmons said on the July 11 episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “And if the Lakers called Miami up and said, ‘We’ll give you Anthony Davis for Jimmy Butler,’ Miami is either doing it or they’re having a seven-hour meeting before they decide not to do it. But I just think they would do it. If they can turn Jimmy Butler into Anthony Davis, I think they do it.
“It’s a little different for about two seconds until they think about, ‘Wow, we could have Bam [Adebayo] and Anthony Davis together. We’re doing this.'”
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Trading AD Would Land the Lakers One of the 10 Biggest Packages, Says NBA Exec
Plenty of complications will likely prevent the Lakers from moving on from Davis, namely his ties to Klutch Sports, the sports agency that also represents Davis’ teammate LeBron James. During his conversations with league executives, Heavy.com NBA insider Sean Deveney concluded that Davis’ trade value is still high despite the big man’s playing in only 76 games over the last two seasons. One Western Conference exec noted that the Lakers could probably fetch a deal similar to what the Jazz landed for Rudy Gobert, netting as many as five future first-round draft picks.
“If they put Anthony Davis on the market now, at age 29, they’d be looking at something around what the Jazz got [for Rudy Gobert], probably a better up-front player if that is what they want,” the executive said. “If they want the four or five first-rounders, they’d get that.
“Now, it is not going to be what they gave up for him, all the picks and Brandon Ingram and Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, all of that. But it would be one of the 10 biggest packages you get. I know Davis has been hurt and that is going to turn down his value but everyone is going to look at him and think, ‘OK, we can keep him healthy, he’ll play for us.’ That’s what is going to matter.”
Butler Recently Signed a $146 Million Contract Extension With the Heat
The Lakers would have plenty of reasons to make the hypothetical trade. For one, Butler would give LA a legitimate scoring threat and James a consistent co-pilot. Butler averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game during his 57 appearances in 2021-22. The All-Star is a poor three-point shooter (32.1% over his career) but can be an elite defender.
Butler recently signed a three-year, $146 million contract extension that runs through the 2025-26 season. The star forward has a $37.6 million salary this season in the final year of his old contract.
Butler would be slightly more affordable than Davis’ five-year, $189.9 million deal. Davis is slated to have a $37.9 million salary next season and still has three years remaining on his contract with the Lakers.