Proposed Trade With Rival Sends Lakers a Former Top-3 Pick

anthony davis lebron james

Getty Anthony Davis LeBron James.

Barring a late-season turnaround, the Los Angeles Lakers are likely headed towards a challenging offseason with pressure mounting to keep LeBron James happy. Russell Westbrook’s trade value has proved to be minimal, which means the Lakers may need to explore trading his co-pilot Anthony Davis to have any chance of once again becoming a championship contender.

One team that has plenty of talent to offer the Lakers in exchange for Davis is their longtime rivals in Boston. A potential blockbuster deal has its challenges as the Celtics previously pursued adding Davis, but the big man has shown no interest in playing in Boston.

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During an interview with NBA editor Sean Deveney, one league executive floated a Lakers-Celtics trade proposal that would give James a new star teammate. The Lakers would receive swingman Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith in exchange for Davis along with Talen Horton-Tucker.

“It was no secret Danny wanted him (in 2019),” the NBA executive told Heavy. “He would have given up Tatum in a heartbeat for AD, they wanted to offer Brown but it would have come down to Tatum. And he would have done it in the end, I think. Now the Lakers would want Tatum back but there is no way the Celtics do that.

“But put AD in a deal with Horton-Tucker, for Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Aaron Nesmith? The Lakers would have to consider that. I’d take it. But they made such an effort to bring AD to that team and if they are going to deal him, they would only send him where he wants to be. And I just don’t think Boston would ever be a team on his list.”

Brown Was Named an All-Star During the 2020-21 Season

One year removed from his first All-Star appearance, Brown is putting up gaudy numbers in Boston. The talented wing is averaging 23.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists while shooting 35% from the three-point line. It is worth noting that Brown’s long-range shooting is down from his 37.3% career average. Brown was the subject of trade rumors earlier this season, but Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens emphasized the team had no plans to deal the former All-Star.

“I just walked up to Jaylen and said, ‘Hey, your name’s all over the place, as you know,'” Stevens told Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub in November 2021. “Obviously, from our standpoint, you’re a Celtic and a guy that we obviously we think exceptionally high of, and, you know, nothin’ doin’.’ I just wanted to make sure he had that peace of mind.”

Davis Sr. in 2019: ‘I Would Never Want My Son to Play for Boston’

Davis may be one player that would intrigue the Celtics enough to breakup the Brown and Jayson Tatum duo. As the league exec pointed out, it is unlikely that the Celtics would be on Davis’ list of preferred destinations.

Davis does not have a no-trade clause. but the Lakers would likely want to work with Klutch Sports to keep their relationship going with one of the most powerful agencies in the NBA. At the height of the Pelicans-Celtics trade rumors in 2019, Davis’ father Anthony Davis Sr. spoke out against the Boston franchise.

“I would never want my son to play for Boston after what they done to Isaiah Thomas,” Davis Sr. told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne in February 1, 2019. “No loyalty. Guy gives his heart and soul and they traded him. …This is just my opinion, not Anthony’s. I’ve just seen things over the years with Boston, and there’s no loyalty.”

Would LeBron Sign off on a Potential AD Trade?

Davis represents the Lakers best trade asset to upgrade their roster this offseason, but it is unclear if James is willing to push the panic button. The Lakers are unlikely to trade Davis without first getting James’ approval, especially given the superstar’s current displeasure with the front office.

James pushed for the Lakers to acquire the fellow Klutch Sports player in 2019. The combo initially worked as the Lakers went on to win the championship during the 2019-20 season.

Since then, Davis has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons. Heading into the All-Star break, Davis has already missed 21 games this season with more to come as the big man deals with an ankle injury. This comes after Davis missed 36 games during the 2020-21 season, half of the Lakers contests.

James has continued to back Davis despite the injuries, but it will be interesting to see if the star would give the Lakers his blessing on a potential deal. If not, there is little hope the Lakers will be able to make significant upgrades to the current roster heading into next season.