Wild 3-Team Proposed Trade Sends Lakers a $176 Million Playmaker for 2 Stars

Rob Pelinka

Getty Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers are at a crossroads as they find ways to improve. It seems that trading Anthony Davis could be their only option if they were to make major changes to their current roster for the 2022-23 season. During the March 7 episode of “The Lowe Post” podcast, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and ESPN’s Zach Lowe discussed “fake trades” the Lakers could explore with Davis.

Perhaps the wildest fake trade was a three-team blockbuster featuring the Lakers, Blazers and Thunder. The deal has the Lakers landing superstar Damian Lillard in exchange for Davis, Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker.

“Here’s my favorite one: It’s a three-teamer. The Lakers get Dame, Portland gets Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker in their C.J. McCollum trade exception, Kendrick Nunn and Derrick Favors,” Simmons said. “And OKC gets Russ [Westbrook], and they get a Portland first and a swap.

“So, Portland’s basically giving up Dame, taking a bunch of contracts back to get Davis. And the Lakers get Dame, but they clear out a bunch of contracts. So, basically next year they just have Dame and LeBron and then they can add around that. That was my favorite one because it involves Russ going home to OKC, the only place that would probably take Russ.”

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Davis Has Played in a Combined 73 Games the Last 2 Seasons

The most preferable option for the Lakers would be to trade Russell Westbrook this offseason, but Los Angeles would likely have to add assets to a potential deal. Davis still has trade value at 29 years old.

The question is whether LeBron James would sign off on the Lakers dealing the fellow Klutch Sports client. The harsh reality is that Davis has played in just a total of 73 games because of a number of significant injuries.

Lillard Is Dealing With a Season-Ending Abdominal Injury

Lillard, who has missed the majority of this season, would bring with him his own injury woes. He played in just 29 games before being ruled out for the rest of the year with an abdominal injury. Before he shut it down for the season, Lillard averaged 24 points, 7.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds while shooting a dismal 32.4% from long range, well below his career average of 37.3%.

Lillard, 31, could be one of the few players whom James would approve trading Davis for. The Blazers guard has an additional three seasons remaining on his four-year, $176 million contract. Lillard is set to earn a $42.4 million salary for the 2022-23 season.

Davis also has three seasons remaining on his five-year, $189 million deal. He will earn a $37.9 million salary next season.

Lillard Met With James & Davis in L.A. Last Offseason

We do know James has an interest in playing with Lillard. Lillard revealed he met with James and Davis in Los Angeles last offseason amid trade rumors.

“’Bron asked what I was thinking with my situation, and I told him what I’m telling you: That I just want to be in a position to win it all,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes for a November 3, 2021, story. “He painted the picture to me that if I were to leave, the situation could look like this. He didn’t tell me to come to L.A., and he didn’t say anything to me that I didn’t already know other than what it could look like. I told him, ‘I know if I were to play with y’all, I know it would work out because of my skill set,’ and who I am and who they are.”

The deal makes a lot of sense for the Lakers, but would the Blazers want to rebuild their roster around Davis? The Thunder would likely be willing to be involved in the trade as long as they could continue accumulating draft picks.