A more stable choice with the Lakers' cap space, should they want to use most of it on one player, would be Kemba Walker. He is also an All-Star, and he'd come with far less baggage. But Walker is not the shooter and playmaker Irving is, and playing with stars like James and Davis in Los Angeles would be a huge adjustment for someone used to carrying the scoring load in Charlotte.
Jimmy Butler, another max-level player who would eat up all the cap room, proved his value in the postseason with Philadelphia, even if he's not a traditional shooter that you'd want to add. He's proven he can make winning plays on a team with plenty of other scorers and ball handlers, and that's a critical skill in a next-tier star when assembling a "Big Three." Philadelphia knows all of this and can offer more money and years in free agency than the Lakers. Like Irving, Butler comes with baggage after bad exits from Chicago and Minnesota.
If the Lakers don't view Kyle Kuzma as the ideal starter next to James and Davis, a guy like Milwaukee's Khris Middleton would help them on both sides of the ball, particularly behind the three-point line. Could they welcome back D'Angelo Russell if Irving ends up in Brooklyn?
Those could be options. The Lakers, though, might have to look at others if the trade is so structured that they end up without the space for another max contract..
The Lakers could veer from another superstar hunt -- and if there was ever a time to argue for that, it would be on the heels of the Raptors beating a "super team" with a star and a team of role players -- and they could spread their money around to a couple of free agents who best fit around James, Davis and Kuzma.
A player like J.J. Redick, who had some interest in signing with the Lakers last summer before the team elected to spend money on players like Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Beasley, would be an incredible fit -- the kind of three-point sniper the Lakers desperately needed last season. Brook Lopez, whom the Lakers let walk last year, would be a perfect fit, although he'd be coming back a lot more expensive.
Bojan Bogdanovic is coming off a career year in Indiana during which he scored more than 18 points per game while shooting better than 40% from three-point range for the second consecutive season. Speaking of the champion Raptors, Danny Green is almost a perfect fifth starter in any lineup looking for shooting and defense.
Patrick Beverley would help the Lakers' defense while giving them a guard comfortable playing off the ball. So would Ricky Rubio, though he hasn't shown that he's been able to force defenses to stretch.
Getting Davis wasn't the big challenge -- his representation did everything in its power to get him to the Lakers. The Lakers had to give up a lot, but Davis is the star.
The challenge for general manager Rob Pelinka and the rest of the front office will be what comes next. That's where the Lakers can cement themselves as the favorite in 2020.
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