The Los Angeles Lakers are keen on improving their roster around Lebron James now that the 2019 NBA Finals is coming to a close. Armed with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a max-contract slot, the Lakers have options but all of the attention is on Anthony Davis' future with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported earlier in the week that Davis would only commit long-term to the Lakers or Knicks. Suddenly, a bidding war turns into a minor skirmish as teams contemplate the advantage of the far less costly (from an asset standpoint) landscape that is the NBA Draft and free agency.
How has the latest news helped the Lakers? We can only guess as negotiations are being kept relatively secret, but according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin is reportedly seeking a certain trade package for Davis.
"Griffin is pursuing a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks," Woj said. "Those wants are on a sliding scale. For example, the better the player, the softer the asks on the draft picks - and vice versa."
Since it will likely have to be a multi-team trade to fulfill Griffin's current demands, it appears the Lakers have made progress,
According to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, the sticking point could be Kyle Kuzma. The newspaper cited people familiar with the trade discussions in reporting that while New Orleans "covets Kuzma the most" out of the players on offer, Los Angeles "does not want to trade" the young forward, who has "ingratiated himself with the organization both on the court and off."
ESPN also reported that the Lakers are "trying to hold on" to Kuzma, while proposing a package "centered on" forward Brandon Ingram and guard Lonzo Ball.
New Orleans could be motivated to make a deal before next week's draft, particularly if it ends up accepting the No. 4 pick as part of a trade or a different pick in a trade with another team. ESPN reported that the Boston Celtics are also in negotiations for Davis, despite comments from his agent that they would only be sure of having him for one season before Davis hit the open market.
"They can trade for him, but it'll be for one year," Rich Paul said in remarks published Wednesday by Sports Illustrated. "I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020."