The Los Angeles Lakers completely altered their team and arguably shifted the landscape of the NBA Saturday by reportedly trading for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Pelicans will receive Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart as well as three first-round picks, but the Lakers should have more than enough remaining on the roster to become a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.
In reality, simply pairing Davis with LeBron James makes the Lakers more dangerous than they have been since Kobe Bryant was in his prime.
Here is an early look at the Los Angeles lineup following the blockbuster trade featuring players currently under contract:
PG: Alex Caruso
SG: Isaac Bonga
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Anthony Davis
The backcourt is almost certainly going to change before the season starts in 2019-20.
Alex Caruso showed a lot toward the end of last season-he averaged 12.4 points and 4.2 assists per game in his final 18 appearances-enough to believe he will remain on the roster going forward and a key part of the rotation. Still, the team will likely want to upgrade the position, and there are quite a few top options available.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Kemba Walker will be a “top target” in free agency for the Lakers and could add yet another All-Star to the starting lineup.
The Lakers are also reportedly still in the running for Kyrie Irving, according to Ian Begley of SNY.
At the 2, Jimmy Butler remains an option after declining his player option with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers have “genuine interest” in the All-Star, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
These players could get a lot of opportunities from the perimeter and would be key in helping the squad compete with the other top teams in the NBA.
There is money to get another big-name player into the lineup:
Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42
The Lakers will have either $27.8M in room or $32.5M in room after this deal. All depends on the timing and if Davis waives his $4M trade bonus.
Still, the frontcourt is what people want to see, and it’s what will dominate the rest of the league.
LeBron was a forgotten man for most of last season while dealing with injuries and playing on a losing team, but he still averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists. If he’s not still the best player in the world, he is pretty close to it when healthy.
He also now gets to play with a bona fide star in Davis, who will arguably be the best player he has ever lined up with outside of the Olympics.
Dwyane Wade is a Hall of Famer and Kyrie Irving always made big shots, but Davis is a game-changer on both ends of the court. The big man can take over games on his own and get more open looks than he has ever seen, while also instantly improving the Lakers defense after some inconsistency on that end.
Adding in Kyle Kuzma, who averaged 18.7 points per game last season and can take some pressure off the two All-Stars in the frontcourt, there likely aren’t any teams in the NBA who can match up with this team down low.
If the Lakers get another star to run the show in the backcourt, they can be nearly unstoppable in what could be a wide-open Western Conference next season. However, they could be a real threat if they simply add players who can shoot and defend the perimeter.
Players like Danny Green or Patrick Beverley could be huge in helping Los Angeles get back to the postseason for the first time since 2013.