The Los Angeles Lakers got it done.
Yet even with the apparent deal for Anthony Davis wrapped up, reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers have a ton of work to do.
After all, the Lakers coughed up not only draft assets, but also Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. Between cap finessing and filling out the roster, the Lakers still have a long summer ahead. And when it comes to the latter, the front office didn’t exactly inspire confidence last year after landing LeBron James.
Still, the early post-trade rumors are encouraging.
Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler pursuit?
The Lakers are naturally far from done.
While simply rounding out the roster around LeBron and Davis would make plenty of sense-why stop there? The Golden State Warriors might be hurting right now, but the Western Conference isn’t a simple beast regardless. And the more the Lakers can add now, the better positioned the franchise might be once LeBron retires.
The next step? According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, two star players are targets: “Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler are top priorities, sources said.”
Kemba Walker would be a huge win for the Lakers, because superstar, 29-year-old point guards don’t walk through the door every day. If the Charlotte Hornets can’t convince him a contending core will arrive-almost any team would offer massive money either way-he might find the Lakers more appealing. Grabbing a prime point who shoots 41.8 percent from the floor with averages of 19.8 points and 5.5 assists for his career would be a boon, to say the least.
Then there is Jimmy Butler, who plans to opt out with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Haynes. He’s another ideal scoring option, but he will be costly a season removed from averaging 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists over 55 games in a new locale.
With LeBron and Davis on the same roster, these two might be more realistic than they were even a week ago.
Given the feel-good vibes surrounding the Toronto Raptors right now, it is almost easy to forget Kawhi Leonard is a free agent.
The Lakers didn’t forget.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Leonard is a target: “If it were to go through before July 6, the Lakers wouldn’t be able to create the $32.7 million necessary to sign Walker or another max free agent, such as Kawhi Leonard, who league sources say the Lakers will pursue.”
Gunning for Leonard is an obvious move for the Lakers, if not a potentially unrealistic one. He’s only 27 years old and is coming out of a championship win in which he averaged 36.6 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from deep-not to mention the stellar two-way play on the other end of the court.
Obviously, Leonard has his choice of whatever amount of years and money he wants on his next deal if he chooses to stick with the Raptors. But he’s always been a sort of mystery ever since the split from San Antonio, so he’s arguably free agency’s biggest question mark.
Should Leonard choose to make his way to another contender, it’s hard to imagine the currently-constructed Lakers are unappealing. If that’s the case, the front office there will clearly be ready.
Even despite everything in the rearview mirror, don’t forget Kyrie Irving.
Irving is clearly on the outs with the Boston Celtics, though his next destination doesn’t seem clear. Rumors and whispers surround the next move, though it would be wise to keep the Lakers in mind.
So says a cautionary line from The Athletic’s Sam Amick: “Just days before the Davis deal was done, a source close to James indicated some optimism that- Nets noise be darned-Irving was still in play for the Lakers.”
Within that report, Amick noted Irving and LeBron smoothed over past grievances at the start of this year. If true, one can see why this is starting to gain some momentum.
Given the quantity of basketball drama in his past, not to mention accomplishments, it might be easy to forget Irving is only 27 years old. Feel free to tack on the fact he’s worked magic with LeBron before, and despite a not-so-great situation in Boston, Irving still averaged 23.8 points and 6.9 assists last year while shooting 48.7 and 40.1 from the floor and deep, respectively.
Throwing a max at Irving now would perhaps achieve more for the Lakers in current contender status and for the future given his pairing with Davis, too.