It’s heartening to know that in his three seasons since arriving from New Orleans, Anthony Davis’ Lakers have won 86-52 in one of the NBA’s biggest trades of all time, for a win ratio of .628. The problem is that LA has gone 87 games without him in the last three years and has a .472 win ratio.
That’s not encouraging when you take an honest look at the future of the team. In fact, Heavy Sports NBA insider Steve Bulpett says this is really nothing new for Davis.
Back when Bulpett was covering the Celtics for the Boston Herald, he spoke to a Pelicans official about Davis’ consistency (the Celtics were keen to trade for him), and there were plenty of red flags. First on the list: Davis was a little soft.
“Someone from New Orleans told me that when the Celtics were going strong chasing Anthony Davis, he said you’d better make sure Marcus Smart isn’t included in this deal because you’re going to need someone tough, next to him to stand by Anthony Davis,” Bulpet said in a video interview. “No. 2,” he told me, “he’s never seen a player go into the coach’s room that much. Now we’re not talking about a serious injury and a guy who’s stupid and hurts himself more, just, “That people around him will tell you that the slightest problem will bring him to the coach’s room. A hangnail, that can be a problem.”
Lakers sent a mega package for Davis
Davis helped the Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship in the Orlando bubble and has been outstanding this season, averaging 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds. The Lakers had given up a number of players to get him and worked out a deal with New Orleans that would see star forward Brandon Ingram and guard Lonzo Ball join Josh Hart and recently drafted De’Andre Hunter.
The Lakers also gave up a first-round pick this year and in 2024 or 2025, as well as a pick swap in 2023.
It can be argued that the championship made the trade worth it, but it was a lot of assets the Lakers gave up. Davis is only 29 years old, but he has seen his numbers drop over the past two seasons, averaging 23.2 points this season after averaging 21.8 points last year. In 2020, he signed a $190 million contract with the Lakers.
Can the Lakers count on Anthony Davis?
What seems clear is that the Lakers may not necessarily be counting on Davis as a future cornerstone like they thought when they signed the deal in 2019 – he was set to succeed LeBron James as the franchise went from superstar to onward passed the next. However, his health has made that increasingly unlikely and there is some dismay within the Lakers organization over how the franchise is expected to move forward if Davis continues to struggle with bumps and bruises.
As a Western Conference executive recently told Heavy, “There are some in this organization who wouldn’t mind seeing what they can bring back for AD, but they wouldn’t do it with LeBron there. However, they are coming to 2024, and maybe things will change. …Davis can then also be a free agent, so he could try to sign elsewhere, or he could opt for 2024-25 and be traded. Many players want to postpone their free agency to 2025, because that’s when the new television should come.
“The Lakers certainly have two more years of AD and they can only hope he stays healthy. But after that they have to consider, is this guy really our future? He can’t stay on the ground. And he has to think do I want to be here without LeBron? That’s why the Lakers don’t want to give up those future picks (in a trade).
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