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In a shocking trade on Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers completed a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in which they sent Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and three future first-round picks (including their #4 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft) in return for Anthony Davis.
With this deal being completed, it’s an obvious attempt to end the franchise’s playoff drought. With an elite player like LeBron James at the helm, the front office has their eyes on more talent in the free agency pool.
Kyrie Irving will always be in this conversation after playing in Cleveland alongside James, where the two won an NBA Championship together. While he was a leader with the Boston Celtics, he’d be a far more efficient player in Los Angeles.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite talent when he can remain healthy. After signing a one-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, Cousins failed in his attempt to chase an easy ring. Cousins has experience playing with Davis in New Orleans, and could be a valuable piece to the team’s front court.
Jimmy Butler has been an amazing asset for any team he has been part of. With his time on the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers, Butler has been one of the better two-way players in the league. After an early playoff exit this past season, it could be enough motive for Butler to look for a new home. The team has genuine interest in looking at Butler in free agency, but is that interest mutual?
Kemba Walker is an underrated and often overlooked star that could exceed expectations if given the chance. The 29-year old has spent his entire career with the Charlotte Hornets, but has yet to see success in the playoffs. While it would be difficult to see Walker in a different uniform moving forward, it would benefit his career immensely.
Despite the injury, Kevin Durant will be one of the most intriguing free agents this summer. Winning 2 NBA titles and Finals MVP, the only downside to Durant involves his ruptured Achilles. Missing the entire 2019-20 will task teams to decide whether he is worth the payday, but Los Angeles would guarantee themselves as the newest ‘super team’ in the league with Durant on their roster.
After winning Toronto their first NBA title in franchise history, Kawhi Leonard could very well leave after just one season. Even before Toronto, Leonard found success with the San Antonio Spurs. Alongside Durant, Leonard will be the top free agent this summer.
The Lakers had an underwhelming 2018-19 season, as injuries and inconsistencies came back to haunt the roster. With the ability now to go after the top free agents the league has to offer, this will become an essential time for Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle, Mass Lives, Bleacher Report, New York Times, Zimbio, The Hoop Doctors