Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram

USA Today

AD's Value

The Lakers need to do better.

February 05, 2019 - 9:46 am

It’s Tuesday. We have just over 48 hours to the NBA trade deadline. In fact, the deadline will be the end of the show on Thursday, so when you hear the Boomtown Rats bumping in on Thursday, you know that teams only have a few minutes left to make a deal.

And if you’re a Laker fan, that is either going to be the greatest moment of the season or the worst. Because you’re either going to get Anthony Davis right now, for the stretch run to the playoffs, or wait until the summer, or maybe not at all. 

For Laker fans, trade season is the new postseason. And getting Davis would be like throwing another banner in the rafters. Laker fans have been photoshopping AD into the purple and gold for weeks. 

And that story has pivoted and changed about fifteen different times since I got off the air yesterday. There was the report that AD’s reps have given the Pelicans a list of teams that he would sign an extension with. And that list is: Los Angeles, New York, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles again. Lakers, Knicks, Bucks, and Clippers. 

The Lakers makes sense. Obviously that’s the place he wants to go. The Knicks I guess makes sense, because it’s New York, but they’ve reportedly tried to talk to New Orleans about a Porzingis deal and got shut down. And nothing since. 

Pretty cool to include the Bucks on that list, considering they can’t really make a deal for him. But hey, Milwaukee, it’s just an honor to be nominated. And the Clippers are keeping their powder dry until the summer, so they haven’t made an offer.  

So, really, that list of four teams is a list of one. AD’s should’ve just given the Pelicans a list of four teams that said: He will sign an extension with The Lakers, The Lake Show, the Purple and Gold, or The Team Kobe Played for.

Then, Brad Turner of the LA Times reported an actual offer from the Lakers to the Pelicans: “Lakers willing to give Pelicans cap relief for Anthony Davis by taking Solomon Hill for Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ingram, Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Beasley, 2 1st round picks.”

The Lakers are selling that as a number of future stars, salary cap relief, and two first round picks. And if you’re wondering why the Pelicans aren’t falling all over themselves to make that deal, here’s an idea. They already have Julius Randle, so the Lakers are essentially offering is chance to reunite the 2017-2018 Lakers. The team that won 35 games and finished in 11th place. 

The Pelicans have to be like, really? You’d do that for us? We could have the 2017-18 Lakers plus our existing Jrue Holiday? Wow, that’s a dream team. And on top of that, you’ll throw in a few vets on expiring deals and a couple first round picks that will probably be in the 20s? And all we have to do is give you Anthony Davis? Where do we sign?

No wonder Woj tweeted yesterday: ‘Pels are waiting on Lakers to overwhelm them w/ an historic haul of picks. To Nola, that means Lakers offering 4 first-round and second-round picks as part of a Davis package. Pels want to be compensated - perhaps even overcompensated - to even consider a deal with LA now.’

Let me repeat that last part louder for the people in the back: Pels want to be compensated - perhaps even overcompensated – TO EVEN CONSIDER A DEAL WITH LA NOW.

And no wonder Woj reported that the Pelicans didn’t even bother countering that offer. Instead, they countered it through the media, letting everyone know that they want four first and second round picks. That they want to be blown away with picks or a future all-NBA player, not weighed down with a bunch of good, not great players.  

Because you know the Pelicans are pissed at the Lakers for this. You know the last thing they want to do right now is give in and trade Davis to the place that he wants to go and do it in the same conference. So of course they want to be overcompensated. Especially since they don’t have to make a deal right now. Especially since Boston can’t even jump into the bidding until summer. Especially since Boston potentially may have more to offer.  So, of course, they’re saying the Lakers can do better. They’re offering a future hall of famer and a perennial MVP candidate. And I agree with them.   

And if they’re saying that last year’s Lakers and a couple picks isn’t fair compensation for a future Hall of Famer and perennial MVP candidate, and they’re right.

When Magic called Pelicans GM Dell Demps with that offer, Demps had to be covering up his phone and laughing. I know Demps is in a tough position, but come on, it’s not that tough. It’s not so tough that he’d be excited to form a 35-win team. Especially when he knows a couple of things: Boston can enter the Davis sweepstakes this summer and they really want Davis. And they’re dangling the possibility of Jayson Tatum to make that happen. 

And here’s the other thing. Someone is going to get the first pick in this year’s draft. And that first pick is going to be Zion Williamson. And if I’m Demps, and I’ve seen Zion play, I might want to know if I can get him in a trade for A.D., before I trade A.D. 

Because with all due respect to Lonzo, Kuzma, and Ingram, Zion will put asses in seats. He will sell tickets a lot faster than they will. Doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be a better pro, it just means that he’s new, he’s fresh, he’s transcendent, people will pay to see him a lot faster than they’ll pay to see Laker leftovers.  

And through all of this, Laker fans have been drooling over Davis like a dog looking at a steak. They would love nothing better than to have him on their bench, even if it’s in a suit, for Thursday night’s game in Boston. What better moment and what better place to unveil him, than in the Garden, and rub it in Boston’s face. But I doubt that’s going to happen.

Don’t print up those Davis jerseys for Thursday night or Sunday afternoon. You can close out of Photoshop for a while, because while this isn’t over, the Lakers have a ton of work to do to make your dream a reality. And I think you can go ahead and assume I will not be interrupting the boomtown rats to announce the Lakers have pulled the trigger. 

And as proof that this story is constantly changing, here's another twist from this morning. Chris Haynes reports that "The New Orleans Pelicans’ front office prevented a healthy Anthony Davis from making his return from a finger injury on Monday night, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Davis, 25, eagerly wanted to suit up at home against the Indiana Pacers after recovering from a left finger avulsion that sidelined him for a little more than two weeks, sources said, but the organization elected to keep him inactive." You know what that means, Laker fans? A deal is imminent, right? Wrong. It just means that the team has nothing to gain from playing him before the trade deadline. 

It means that Team AD wants everyone to know that he's healthy and that the team blocked him from playing, to make the Pelicans look bad. Of course they blocked him from playing. What do they gain from having him play before the deadline and bust that finger again? They'll sit him until after the deadline and if he doesn't get moved, the expectation is that he'll suit up for New Orleans again. And if he doesn't, if the Pelicans don't allow him to play again, an ugly situation will get even uglier. Stay tuned.

If the Lakers really want this guy they’re going to have to do better than that. Because they Pelicans know THEY can do better than that. And they’re probably right. I get the Lakers not wanting to give up all those picks because it will tie their hands for the future, but what are they saving them for? Two players as good as Anthony Davis. That’s not happening. I know it’s a negotiation, and that’s not the Lakers last and best, but if they want this guy now, they’re going to have to do a helluva lot better. Because as awkward as it all is between Davis and the Pelicans now, they don’t have to deal this guy right now. And in order to do so, the Lakers are going to have to blow them away; and they haven’t. And if I were Dell Demps, I wouldn’t take that package either. He’s not giving up Anthony Davis for the 2017-18 Lakers reunion team. Hell no, he’s not. And I wouldn’t either.

The Lakers need to do better.