The Los Angeles Lakers may have just struck gold in a season where nothing seems to be going their way. With reports that the Lakers are shopping Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, another name has been added to the list. According to Bleacher Report, Larry Nance Jr. is now on the trade block. What does this mean? It means that the New Orleans Pelicans must make a decision on the future of Anthony Davis.
With the Pelicans releasing a statement that they are not taking calls regarding DeMarcus Cousins, that sort of leaves the door open for a Davis poach. Maybe Davis is in their long-term plans and maybe he isn’t, but the Los Angles Lakers won’t know for sure unless they try. Of all the teams who could offer a package, the Lakers may have the best pieces for New Orleans.
Initially, the rumors were the Boston Celtics and Davis, but with Nance Jr. now available, that changes everything. The Lakers don’t have a 2018 first rounder to offer like the Celtics, but what they do have is experienced players at three different positions. The Pelicans are short in one area: small forward. While Nance is listed as a power forward, he spent some of his rookie year at small forward. If the Pelicans were to consider moving Davis, that would leave a hole at the power forward position next to Cousins.
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This is where the services of Randle come into play. While Randle has spent much of this season engulfed in trade rumors, his play on the court has improved during that time. For the season, he’s averaging 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action. Pairing Randle next to Cousins is not the same as having Davis there but the additional players coming along will balance the trade out.
With Jordan Clarkson included, that will give the Pelicans the option of letting Rajon Rondo go, and moving Jrue Holiday back to the lead point guard. A backcourt of Holiday and Clarkson will be a high scoring one as defenders must respect both payers ability to hit from the perimeter and their ability to take their defender off the dribble. The Pelicans have suffered immensely from a gaping hole left at the small forward position, however, by adding the high-flying Nance, that will open the post for Randle and Cousins to operate one-on-one.
By moving Davis, the Pelicans will also knock off one of the largest contracts in the NBA while replacing him with two contracts that will total a little over $14 million (Randle will be an FA in 2018). With the money saved on the Davis deal, they could afford to pay Randle $10 million to $15 million per season and still come out better than keeping Davis.
For the Lakers, this will give them a four-headed monster in Davis, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. Adding Davis will give the Lakers brass the franchise face they have searched for since the retirement of Kobe Bryant. The departure of Clarkson will sting, and with the Lakers not having a first rounder in 2018, they will need to look at the trade market for a replacement unless they can resign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a cap-friendly deal or swing a trade involving Brook Lopez for a pick or a serviceable starter at shooting guard.
The Lakers have options now with Nance on the board. Paul George is a good player but Anthony Davis is a game changer. New Orleans may not want to part with him but a closed mouth never gets fed. It won’t hurt to ask. The Lakers have every piece the Pelicans need, and the Pelicans have the main piece the Lakers need. Let’s make a deal.