The Los Angeles Lakers were pretty sure that they could continue their great season, even as LeBron James went out with a groin injury. That was seven games ago, and the Lakers have gone 2-5 during this stretch -- and concern is starting to set in. As of now, James is expected to return to the line-up against the Golden State Warriors on January 11, but his injury may have caused a lot more damage than anyone might realize.
In all reality, it may have hurt the Lakers' chance of landing Anthony Davis, should the New Orleans Pelicans ever decide to trade him away.
For months and even years, there have been rumors that Davis would eventually end up signing with -- or be traded to -- the Lakers. The New Orleans Pelicans have continuously stated that they would not trade away their All-Star, but experts believe differently -- and that such a trade is only a matter of time.
If Davis turns down the Supermax contract the Pelicans are sure to offer him this summer, they'll have no choice but to trade him. At that point, the Boston Celtics can join in, and they have a lot more assets to make an attractive trade offer to New Orleans. It's unlikely that the Lakers will just give in, however.
The problem that has come up for the Lakers is that during James' absence, the team has faltered -- and other players haven't stepped up. If New Orleans is watching with any idea of a future trade of Anthony Davis, they may not see a lot that Los Angeles can offer.
On a recent episode of the Lakers Talk podcast, ESPN's Allen Sliwa talked about the injuries to both LeBron James and Rajon Rondo. Without their veterans on the floor, the Lakers have obviously struggled. Sliwa and other suggest that down deep, this is bothering James -- as he thinks about the future of the franchise.
James knows that other teams, such as the Pelicans, are watching the other players on the Lakers roster to see how they perform. While the veterans have been out with injuries, players such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have not stepped up to keep the team winning.
Sliwa knows that the longer James and Rondo are off of the floor, the worse things look for the younger players -- and he said as much.
"I think the value of these two players will be at the highest when everybody is back. If you make a deep playoff run and these guys are contributing, that's when their value is going to be at its highest."