Anthony Davis injury: five great men the Lakers could sue in the trade market to replace absent star


There isn’t really a good time to lose your All-NBA great man, but the Los Angeles Lakers really couldn’t have asked for worse timing for Anthony Davis’ latest injury. The NBA’s recent COVID-19 outbreak has desperate teams nabbing all valid free agents, so it’s not as if the Lakers can easily turn to the free agent pool to find a replacement center during that Davis is recovering for the next month or so. Their own internal options aren’t particularly appealing either. DeAndre Jordan lost his spot in the rotation for good reason before desperation brought him back for a few minutes. Dwight Howard is currently out due to NBA health and safety protocols. Two-way rookie Jay Huff has only played 13 minutes this season.

The only saving grace for the Lakers is the date on the calendar. With December 15 now in the rearview mirror, the majority of NBA players are now eligible to trade. The Lakers don’t have the assets or the corresponding salary to rock a blockbuster for a new great man, but the Beggars can’t choose. Reliable 15 minutes a night in the front area would be extremely valuable at this time. So let’s explore what realistically exists in the commercial market right now for a set of second round picks and a minimum matching salary (say no more than two outgoing minimum wage Lakers, which would allow the Lakers to absorb around $ 4.3 million in a salary). Given the COVID situation the entire league is facing right now, teams could very well decide to hoard their players and avoid trades altogether until they can more comfortably count on the availability of their players. players. The Lakers might be out of luck if that’s the case, but these five players at least make some sense as hypothetical trading targets.

Here is the target of the pie in the sky. Mitchell Robinson is absolutely overqualified for commercial injury replacement target status, and the New York Knicks would almost certainly not pick up a second-round pick package for him, even given his disappointing season. Even if they would, it should be noted that Robinson recently fired Rich Paul as an agent, so whatever influence Klutch Sports has at the front office would likely be used against him, and he arguably knows his way. worst season as a pro after gaining 20 pounds in the offseason. It’s still worth a phone call, however, for the following reasons:

  • Robinson recently lost his first job in New York to Nerlens Noel. The Knicks also have Julius Randle, the defending All-NBA forward, recent draft picks Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims, and longtime Tom Thibodeau favorite Taj Gibson on the front row.
  • Robinson recently posted cryptic social media messages complaining about his role.
  • Robinson is going to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If he wants to get a big contract, it is in his best interest to make sure he ends the season in a team that is considering using his bird rights in order to hold him back as there is very little space. cap available around the league. It could be the Knicks, but if it isn’t, he might prefer a trade.
  • The Lakers were heavily linked with Robinson during the pre-draft process in 2018. It was even reported that they made him a pledge with the No. 25 overall pick. That pick comes with its own messy history, as there is would have had front-office disagreements between Mo Wagner, whom they actually chose, and Omari Spellman, whom the Lakers scouts would have preferred. Robinson fell to No.36.

So… there is smoke in here. It is worth making a call to find out if there is a fire. The Knicks could almost certainly get more than the Lakers could offer if they put Robinson there, and if Robinson wants a bigger attacking role, he likely won’t find it in Los Angeles. But the Lakers are in dire need of an athletic advantage in the frontcourt, and Robinson is providing a load of it. He’s also playing for a new contract, so any acquiring team should expect him to do their best to fit in. Robinson probably couldn’t play alongside Davis and Russell Westbrook given his very traditional offensive role as a non-shooting roller and rebounder, but if he returns to his old defensive form he could make all the difference on this side of the field.

This is where the most realistic targets come into play. The Lakers had Damian Jones briefly in the building last season, but let him go to make way for Andre Drummond in the buyout market. They almost immediately regretted this decision. Drummond disappointed. His presence alienated Marc Gasol. Jones flourished in an expanded role in Sacramento. This role has since diminished, however. He’s only appeared in 14 games for the Kings this season, and the Kings have a surprisingly crowded frontcourt now that Tristan Thompson is in town and Marvin Bagley III has reappeared as a rotating player. The Kings are so bogged down with COVID protocols they’re probably at least a week away from even considering a deal, but if they’re not using Jones, it makes perfect sense to grab a draft pick for him .

But after the Buddy Hield debacle this offseason, the Kings probably won’t be too keen to help the Lakers. Their decision to walk away from a deal that everyone believed was nearing completion would have left Kings’ management “on steam.” The NBA is a relationship business. Rob Pelinka knows this well as a former agent, and the Lakers have a number of successful relationships around the league. The Wizards, for example, helped them create maximum cap space in 2020, so the Lakers turned around and helped them land Spencer Dinwiddie in 2021 without getting anything in return. The Kings might not want to play ball here.

3. Mo Wagner

We’re staying here with the former Lakers, but otherwise we’re going in a very different direction. Wagner fell victim to a cap as the Lakers scrambled to create maximum cap space in 2020 and he’s struggled to win since. The Magic are his fourth NBA team, and while his role is minor, he’s been pretty consistent, and with his brother Franz in place as central to Orlando’s future, the Magic probably wouldn’t treat him for crumbs. . Still, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. (when healthy) are clearly ahead of him in the pecking order, and Robin Lopez is perfectly capable of playing more than he did for the Magic.

Wagner shares very little in common with Jones or Robinson. They are archetypal centers, but Wagner is more of an extended center. He’s struggled in that role for most of his NBA career, but he’s now 37% behind the arc this season. He has untapped mobility defensively, so while he might not really be a rim protector, surely Frank Vogel could find more creative schematic uses for him. With or without Davis, he’s the kind of big man the Lakers probably should have had on their bench from the start. Not only does he fit in more easily alongside Westbrook, but stylistically contrasts with Howard. The Lakers are sorely lacking in roster versatility, and Wagner could provide a bit of it.

The Hawks signed Gorgui Dieng mainly to keep them at the save center until Onyeka Okongwu returns. Well… Onyeka Okongwu is back, and it’s not like Dieng set the world on fire for him. His role has been steadily diminishing throughout the season, and now in his 30s, it’s unclear how much he actually has left to contribute to a winning team. At the bare minimum, the Hawks probably wouldn’t haggle too much for him. They would probably appreciate the salary savings of dealing with it.

But Dieng, on a limited scale, has in the past fulfilled that coveted role of the big man’s unicorn who blocks shots and can score 3 points. He’s made almost 38% of his long-distance attempts over the past three seasons, although the volume has been quite limited. His defense has slipped a bit during that time, and if it’s a priority, the Lakers will likely look elsewhere. But the best version of Dieng can play with Westbrook and Davis on the floor, and there just aren’t many bargain centers that can say that.

5. Whatever Dallas center is available

Jason Kidd may be using Kristaps Porzingis as a power forward more than Rick Carlisle, but that doesn’t mean he needs all of his crosses. Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber also use the center minutes, leaving Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban Marjanovic and Moses Brown very little. The three have barely combined to play as many minutes (350) as DeAndre Jordan (314).

The Lakers can’t really be picky here. Any of the three could play a role for them. Cauley-Stein’s mobility and verticality probably make him the most attractive of the three, but if they want to continue using small queues with James and Westbrook taking advantage of maximized spacing, Marjanovic could at least create a few hits in the minutes they need for rest. Brown, a double-double machine for the Desperate Thunder a year ago, probably has the most advantages.


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