Back when I was working full-time in The Garden Island office, a staple of my experience became my conversations with Yukie De Silva. Our desks were about 12 feet apart and any discussions tended to gravitate towards the Lakers. Yukie was a huge Laker fan and maybe an even bigger Kobe fan. Being an east coaster, I would always play devil’s advocate and try to downplay how good they were or why they wouldn’t be successful in the postseason, but her belief rarely wavered.
This was back in 2009 and 2010, so I had my work cut out for me. Those were some 57-win Laker seasons that included an NBA Championship. That’s a tough opponent to attempt to poke holes in on a daily basis. I may not have even been behind my own arguments 100 percent of the time, but it was mostly to keep our smirky bickering going.
With any of Yukie’s sports-related thoughts or questions — which were quite frequent — I’d hear her voice calling from her cubicle to mine and immediately perk up. There may have even been some wagering taking place here or there. I seem to remember the Nuggets’ continuous inability to beat the Lakers costing me a few lunches.
Over this past weekend, I received the incredibly sad news that Yukie had passed away. It caught me very much off guard. I was sad that I hadn’t seen her in so long, hadn’t stuck my head in to say hello, hadn’t gotten to engage in a full conversation about LeBron (who she did NOT like one bit) putting on the purple and gold.
So right now, it feels only right to talk about the Lakers. It’s apropos because with Anthony Davis making it known that he won’t be signing an extension with the Pelicans, the entire league is currently scrambling to design a tactful approach. Davis is a transformative superstar who can instantly take a team from good to great. Anyone on the cusp of being a title contender should be doing whatever it takes to acquire his services, even without the guarantee that he’ll stick around for the long haul.
The rumors have always been that Davis would like to wind up with the Lakers, either as a free agent after next season, or perhaps sooner. Those are no longer rumors, but essentially confirmed facts. It’s hard to blame him. Huge market, great city, iconic franchise and a fantastic opportunity to establish a legacy with some success. Other teams will need to provide a unique alternative to sway him from an attractive destination like that.
But what should the Lakers do at this very moment? Should they go all out and empty the war chest to make a deal for him now? Or should they keep those assets in place and bank on Davis choosing to come to town on his own for the 2020-21 season?
Back in 2011, the Knicks were in a similar predicament. Carmelo Anthony made it clear that he wanted to end up in New York. But the Knicks decided not to leave anything to chance and dealt four players and two draft picks to get Anthony mid-season. That decisions was, well, kind of disastrous. They mortgaged the future instead of keeping their assets and hoping that Anthony would come on his own.
This situation is a little different because Davis is a much better player than Anthony, and the Lakers may have some other moves to make. If they clear some space, they could land another superstar this summer in free agency. A trade for Davis could cost them all of their young players, including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, along with some draft picks. But making that deal with some more pieces, then getting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contract off the books following the season could create enough room to bring in Kawhi Leonard or maybe even Kyrie Irving.
The possibility of having LeBron, Davis and either Leonard or Irving on the same team in five months could very well be tempting enough to try to pull the trigger right now. Otherwise they do run the risk of Davis ultimately opting to choose another franchise. Everyone assumed Paul George would wind up with the Lakers after getting dealt to Oklahoma City, but George liked the organization and the city enough to re-sign with the Thunder instead.
If Davis were to be dealt to another good franchise, like maybe Portland or Toronto, he could have a similar experience and ultimately choose to stay. That would be a disaster for the Lakers to lose out on another top-10 player who seemed like a sure thing.
If the Lakers do trade for Davis now, it will cost them just about all of their young players. But they can be certain that he will sign with them for the long term. Waiting another year and a half for the chance to get him will cost them another season of LeBron’s waning career and they have no idea what can happen in the interim.
As much as it may hurt to do so, they need to go get him now if the Pelicans think that offer is worthy of a deal.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.