Despite having the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, on their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers still suffered a huge disappointment in the 2018-19 NBA season. After being hit by multiple injuries, James missed the postseason for the first time since 2005, while the Lakers extended their playoff drought to six years. However, the Lakers have somewhat received some benefits from being one of the worst NBA teams in the league this season.
The Lakers may have failed to earn a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference, but they landed the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft in the recent NBA draft lottery. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka will keep their options open regarding their top selection. They could use it to add another young and promising talent on their roster or as an “extremely valuable asset in trade.”
“This is a powerful asset for us,” an ecstatic Pelinka said on a conference call. “We owe a commitment to our fans to have an outstanding season next year. What this does is it gives us the ability to either select an impact player at [No.] 4 or possibly use this as an extremely valuable asset in trade.”
Here’s a full transcription of LAL GM Rob Pelinka’s phone call with a few of us after the Lakers jumped 7 spots to nab the 4th pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft: https://t.co/vusztIpqlA
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 15, 2019
With their goal to maximize LeBron James’ years in Los Angeles, the Lakers are expected to use the No. 4 overall pick as the main trade chip to acquire a superstar next summer. When it comes to a potential trade target for the Lakers next summer, there’s one name that will immediately come to people’s mind — Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans may have obtained the No. 1 overall pick that they could use to select Zion Williamson, but Davis is still expected to leave New Orleans in the summer of 2019.
As of now, the Lakers’ top competition in their pursuit of Anthony Davis is the Boston Celtics, who are believed to be the team that can offer the best trade package to the Pelicans. However, if Kyrie Irving leaves in the 2019 NBA free agency, it is highly unlikely that Celtics President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge will still consider going all-in for Davis, giving the Lakers a strong chance of pairing the All-Star center with LeBron James.
Aside from trading the No. 4 overall pick and some of their young players, the Lakers could also acquire a superstar on the free agency market. Last summer, the Laker purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2019 where the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker will become unrestricted free agents.