NBA execs ‘skeptical’ Lakers can build contender after Anthony Davis trade

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers shocked the NBA world this past weekend by acquiring star big man Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.

In teaming AD up with LeBron James, Los Angeles also paid one of the highest bounties in a trade in NBA history. That’s at least according to one unnamed executive around the Association.

“Lakers overpaid by a significant margin, given the conditions,” one executive told Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.

The bounty included four first-round picks, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. New Orleans also has the right to swap first-round picks in 2023.

This handcuffs the Lakers in a big way. As of right now, they don’t have room for another max-contract player. Sure general manager Rob Pelinka and Co. are looking to rectify that. But it’s not going to be easy.

Speaking of Pelinka, suggestions are that he didn’t know how the NBA salary cap worked before pulling off the Davis trade. This is real life.

This has led others around the NBA to suggest that the Lakers’ recent drama coupled with this trade does not inspire confidence that they’ll be building a championship contender any time soon.

“The coaching search does not inspire confidence,” one rival GM told Beck. “The way they’ve handled the timing of the trade has not inspired confidence. The dysfunction does not inspire confidence.”

As of right now, the only core pieces in Los Angeles are LeBron, Davis and Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers might be forced to fill out the rest of their lineup with guys signing at between $7 and $10 million annually. In today’s over-saturated market, those pieces might not be enough for Los Angeles to get over the top.

It’s also important to note that King James turns 35 in December. Prior to an injury-plagued 2018-19 campaign, he had played deep into June for eight consecutive seasons. Is James in the latter end of his prime or the twilight of his career? That’s an honest question.

Given that the Lakers have pretty much enabled New Orleans to control their draft over the next several years, there’s not a lot of wriggle room to add more core pieces.

This is also a concern.

“The Lakers totally screwed up the timing of this, clearly,” the rival GM said. Whether this is hopeful thinking remains to be seen. But we can’t simply conclude that Los Angeles is a top-end title contender because it added Davis to the mix.

There’s a whole lot more work to be done within an organization that has stumbled countless times over the past several years. That’s at least the feeling from some around the NBA.