The Anthony Davis fiasco brought up a curious situation with young NBA players.
An early report suggested that Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, at the least, would have to be in the deal for the Pelicans to make the trade. Kuzma has become a young stud for the Lakers, and Ball is still growing into a true point guard that will facilitate any squad.
But both, like a lot of others among their generation, are now just toys in the game of chess that is NBA transactions.
One of the long-standing ideals of sport is to get guys and keep them forever and train them into the best possible athletes. But since LeBron James went to Miami, with his ‘Big 3,’ teams want to just buy their success.
It could be argued that the Lakers could have been a force for years to come. Brandon Ingram is a good scorer, Kuzma is a great all-around player and Ball is a good, true point guard. Then they have Moritz Wagner, who could have been developed into a good inside player.
That is a future four-man starting group that could dominate down the line for awhile.
Add some pieces around them and that is what the Celtics are right now.
Speaking of the Celtics, they are a perfect example of this Just look at Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics have made them into guys who looked James in the eye in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Look at a guy like Victor Oladipo. He had a decent year with the Thunder a couple years ago. Then he is traded to the Pacers so Russell Westbrook can team up with Paul George.
Oladipo found himself being used as trade bait, yet turns into an all-around good player and All-Star, taking a pretty young Indiana team to 30 wins in the first half of this season.
Now, teams are buying their way to a championship, because they have to have success right now.
It is also easy when star friends want to play together at the same place and teams have millions to give them. And, quite frankly, teams have to have at least two/three stars to get anywhere in the playoffs.
This era of buying hit men to play for you for a few years will go fast.
Teams in smaller markets are suffering right now, but they will be threats soon if they keep their teams together.
The Pacers are building a good team right now and hopefully can keep it together for awhile.
The Kings have a very underrated group of young, budding stars. De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and Bogdan Bogdanovic are doing wonders for a forgotten team. Willie Cauley-Stein is also having his best career year, averaging 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The Kings have a young team that, with a few more years of experience, could be a starting five of stars.
But, odds are, if they free up enough cap space eventually, they will trade some of them for a superstar.
It has happened more and more recently. Imagine if the Thunder kept Oladipo and had him with Westbrook and George. That would be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
But, for now, teams like the Pacers and Kings, and even the Nuggets, are seeing their current rosters paying off.
All are having good seasons (the Kings compared to their recent history), and it is through developing these young, budding stars.
But even then, it is not their turn for higher success because NBA teams want hit-men-for-hire.
And they are just expendable trade bait.
Featured image courtesy of Lakers Nation.