The Los Angeles Lakers must now add shooting and defense to their roster to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis, says NBA analyst Dennis Scott.
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The Lakers agreed a deal to acquire Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. The trade, which will become official in the coming weeks, sends Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks (including the No 4 pick in this week's Draft) to New Orleans.
The deal leaves the Lakers with just five players under contract for the 2019-20 season. If the Davis trade is officially completed on July 6, general manager Rob Pelinka will have $23.7m in salary cap room with which to fill out his roster, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks.
If Pelicans and Lakers waited until July 30 to complete trade, Lakers could’ve had $32.5M in cap space --- enough to pursue a max level free agent. By waiting 30 days, Lakers would be acting like a team over the cap and thus allowed to use 4th overall pick in draft as salary. https://t.co/BdKtxFtvai— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 16, 2019
That figure could increase to $32.5m - enough to pursue a max-level free agent - if the teams wait until July 30 to officially complete the deal.
NBA analyst Dennis Scott says Pelinka has much to ponder as he considers how best to surround LeBron and Davis with complementary talent that will enable them to make a deep playoff run next season.
"As Rob Pelinka sits and thinks about how to build out this roster, we have to realise that this is an older LeBron James," he said. "Does [Pelinka look to add] a guy like Jimmy Butler or Khris Middleton, another 'max guy' or 'close to max guy'? Will they buy into the [idea] of coming to play with LeBron and AD and try to win now?
"On the flip side, [the Lakers] need shooting. If your point guard and off-guard are players who can't knock down shots and play defense on the perimeter… LeBron James is going to play more [at the] forward [position] at this time in his career, he's not that run-down, block shot guy we saw earlier in his career. He needs more athletic guys on the perimeter to play good defense.
"Same thing with Anthony Davis. Look at the Western Conference, there aren't a lot of big guys for him to bang up against. How do you have enough floor space for LeBron to operate, for 'AD' to operate and do what they do best?
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"Make sure you have defenders, and make sure you have guys who can knock down shots."
The summer free agency market features several players Scott believes can provide the Lakers with the help they need, with Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard JJ Redick among them.
"JJ Redick works," Scott said. "He has proven over the last couple of years he can play the defense the Lakers will need on the perimeter. And of course we know JJ means 'Just Jumpers'!"
Should the Lakers choose to pursue a big-name, big-money star to complete a 'Big Three' with James and Davis, point guards Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker are available.
"Kyrie 'rings the bell' right away because he is proven," said Scott. "He has already been with LeBron James and they won a championship together in Cleveland. My question with Kyrie? Is he ready to come in an play second or third fiddle?
"Kemba Walker would fit in nicely because you could put the ball in his hands and allow LeBron to have his four-or-five minutes rest off the floor. Walker and Davis in pick-and-roll situations, that sounds pretty good because if you trap it, Davis will get the ball one-on-one of the weak side and he's attacking the defense.
"All those names fit, but you still need to think about building a deeper roster because, if injuries happen, is the bench going to be deep enough as you build towards a playoff push?
"The bottom line is any move that the Lakers make is all about going as deep as possible in the playoffs next season. We know about the Warriors being injured, LeBron James is getting older. What pieces make sense to win now?"
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