The Los Angeles Lakers are moving toward another disappointing fate of falling well short of NBA title contention. Much of this has seen the Lakers deal with star big man Anthony Davis missing extensive playing time due to injuries.
Davis’ health struggles have played a significant part in Los Angeles failing to contend for a championship. Despite that, the franchise has no interest in moving him as part of their expected massive roster overhaul.
Anthony Davis is limping through another injury-plagued season
After injuries derailed a push toward a second straight NBA title, Anthony Davis revamped his offseason approach.
The star big man changed his workout routine by hiring a new trainer. However, his third campaign in Los Angeles has fallen into an all-too-familiar pattern as he suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee that forced him to miss 17 straight games.
Davis returned but then shortly after suffered a right mid-foot injury against the Utah Jazz on Feb. 16 that has sidelined him for 16 consecutive contests. His absence has played a significant part in Los Angeles sitting on the brink of missing the play-in tournament.
As the Lakers barrel toward an offseason likely featuring a massive roster overhaul, it won’t include Davis’ departure.
The Lakers’ win-now philosophy Is forcing them to make a foolish mistake regarding Anthony Davis’ future
With the Lakers heading toward a disappointing fate, the franchise sits expected to undergo another offseason that features significant roster change.
Los Angeles wants to maximize LeBron James’ remaining window while he’s still performing at an elite level. However, Bleacher Reports’s Jake Fischer recently stated on New York Times‘ Marc Stein’s podcast that one of those scenarios would not feature any consideration toward moving star forward Anthony Davis,
“I don’t think they will [trade him] at all, from what I’ve been told and the fact that what they gave up to New Orleans to get him,” Fischer said. “I mean the Lakers went all-in on pairing Anthony Davis with the Bron for as long as that pairing could stand and I’d be shocked if it came to a close this offseason.”
The Lakers made the all-in move to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans by sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter, a pair of first-round picks, and the rights to a first-round selection swap. The franchise followed that two offseasons ago by inking him to a five-year, $189.9 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 season.
The frustration with Davis stems from his struggles with injuries, missing at least half of the last two consecutive seasons. His unavailability has hurt the Lakers more than anything, pushing forward the outside notion that the team should consider trading him.
When healthy, he remains one of the league’s most talented players, but his durability is drawing growing concern. Several teams would take a chance on him despite his health issues based on his talent alone. Any deal could fetch a significant trade package with draft pick assets and proven talent. However, moving Davis could push the Lakers away from the win-now approach which they can ill-afford with James aboard.
The franchise may have unloaded several prominent assets to acquire Davis, but his nagging health issues have not diminished. If anything, his unavailability has prevented the franchise from contending for an NBA title. It’s not to say that trading Davis is the answer, but the team should at least gauge the market to see what they can get in return.
He hasn’t shown that he can be the face of the franchise the team can fully trust once James retires. His injuries issues are simply becoming too difficult to ignore, leaving the franchise in tough spots without him.
The Lakers are not to the point where they believe they are better off by trading their star big man. All that points to the front office reconstructing the roster around James and Davis for at least another season.
Los Angeles still focused on playoff push
As bleak as the Lakers’ playoff hopes are, the team remains in control of their fate in the play-in game.
Los Angeles sits in the 10th spot, a game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and a half-game behind the ninth-seeded Pelicans. The remaining eight regular-season games ahead are daunting, featuring matchups against the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets (twice), Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns, and Golden State Warriors.
Anthony Davis is nearing his return after going through his first full practice since suffering his right mid-foot injury. Meanwhile, LeBron James’ status is up in the air after his ankle injury against New Orleans on Sunday. Both James and Davis are likely to miss Tuesday’s contest against the Mavericks.
All is not lost, but the deck remains stacked against the Lakers. The fate of their season will be determined over the final stretch.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.