Anthony Davis gave up $4 million of his own money to get Kawhi Leonard. But no one told Davis that Kawhi Leonard had no intention of coming to the Lakers. He used them as a stall tactic so the Clippers could have extra time to work on a Paul George trade. That $4 million that Davis surrendered can’t be recovered in an official NBA capacity. It’s gone from Davis bank account. While it demonstrates how much a team player Davis is, it was a bad investment on his part and will be a cautionary tale for players in the future. Never give up money for something that probably will not happen.
Instead of Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers are bringing the gang back from last year: JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell Pope. They are adding Danny Green. He was their free agent get. Though not as sexy as a superteam third maestro, Danny Green fills a need.
The Lakers have shooting guard issues. Green is a multi-champion, a good defender, and he stretches the floor with his 3-ball. He’ll get more open shots than last year in Toronto. With James and Davis on the floor, defenders are going to pack the paint. The perimeter is going to be wide open. Green was a good signing and so was Troy Daniels. Both space the floor.
The Lakers feelings are hurt after the Kawhi fiasco. Their little brother neighbor punked them by signing Leonard. But the Lakers are still the most popular NBA team in the city. The Lakers will always be the Lakers. 26 Hall of Famers, 16 championships keeps you relevant. Of the three new Los Angeles players, the Lakers got the youngest one. Anthony Davis is 26 years old. Basketball prime begins at 28 which is Paul George’s age. Kawhi Leonard is 29.
As far as matchups of the stars, the Lakers have the edge. Kawhi and LeBron can guard one another to a stalemate. Paul George cannot guard Anthony Davis. Kawhi Leonard cannot guard Anthony Davis.
Davis was the most important trade for the Lakers since Pau Gasol in 2008. More importantly, Davis fits into the Hollywood culture the Lakers are tied to more than Paul George and Kawhi Leonard who are reserved personalities not interested in a lot of bling.
Now that the Lakers roster is set, we can evaluate Rob Pelinka. He gets credit for getting Anthony Davis to Los Angeles, even though he had to give up a lot. Not only did he set the Lakers up for postseason runs, he anchored Davis to the organization for the next decade and they can pick up a free agent in 3 years.
Davis is an easy guy to play with and owns incredible skills. He rebounds, blocks shots, defends 4’s and 5’s, drains jumpers from a variety of spaces on the floor. He is unguardable with the only caveat his injury history.
Pelinka had no other choice but to sign some of last year’s riff-raff. Waiting on Kawhi, everyone else was gone. Pelinka’s hands were tied. But he gets credit for risk taking on the Davis deal. He has yet to prove he can build around supersars. Troy Daniels and Jared Dudley filled a need on the perimeter and Danny Green clearly wanted to come to Los Angeles.
Green was the unheralded Spurs piece of yesteryear. He had a great season with Toronto, thrown in as he was in the Kawhi trade to make it work. Green was a key reason the Raptors acquired the 2nd seed. He shot 45% from three during the regular season playing 28 minutes a game. He’s a complimentary piece who doesn’t need plays run for him and is the prototypical LeBron James get. He gets open and he drains shots. Although it feels like he’s been around for a while, Danny Green is younger than LeBron James.
A 10 year vet, Green played at UNC and won a title. He was drafted by the Cavs in the second round of the 2009 draft and has outperformed in his career lottery picks in that draft, even after he was waived after his rookie year: Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Hill, Brandon Jennings, Terrence Williams, Gerald Henderson, Tyler Hansborough, Earl Clark.
Danny Green has a solid identity that he sticks to. He knows who he is. Defend. Make open threes. He has two rings, was second team All-Defensive (2017), and understands how to play with superstars. Nurtured by the Spurs system, it’s second nature for Green to move the ball and he can still get to the rim on open opportunities. Plus, he has mental toughness honed by having Gregg Popovich as his coach.
If you need a consolation prize for being used by Kawhi Leonard, and you had to give up $4 million to learn a hard lesson, Danny Green was worth it. He guards his position. He puts the ball in the hole. He’s a champion.