Lakers Acquire Anthony Davis in Blockbuster Deal

The Lakers have landed a running mate for LeBron James.

After several back-and-forth discussions at multiple points over the course of the year, Los Angeles finally landed Anthony Davis from the Pelicans. The Lakers sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round selections back to New Orleans in the deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. One of those picks is the No. 4 selection in the 2019 NBA Draft. New Orleans holds the top overall selection and is expected to take Zion Williamson.

The Pelicans will receive a top-8 protected pick in 2021, an unprotected first-round pick in 2024 and unprotected first-round pick swaps in 2023 and 2025 in the deal, according to multiple media reports. If the Lakers are as successful as they anticipate being with Davis, the pick swaps will not make a difference. If LA falters or Davis leaves in free agency, New Orleans could be getting a series of strong assets to bolster its roster.

Davis, who requested a trade from the Pelicans Jan. 28, averaged 25.9 points and 12.0 rebounds per game in 2018-19. However, he played just 56 games and was unable to lead New Orleans to the playoffs for a second consecutive year. The Pelicans had failed to adequately surround their franchise star with a chamionship-caliber roster and Davis had finally seen enough.

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According to Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania, Davis was reportedly set on joining a team long-term in the New York and Los Angeles market from the beginning. His original demand featured the Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Knicks and Bucks as team he would sign a long-term deal with after a trade. That list had been trimmed down to the Lakers and Knicks specifically in recent days, according to Charania.

There are some concerns regarding Davis.

He’s never played a full season and despite being regarded as one of the best players in the league, the Pelicans have only made the playoffs twice in his seven seasons. New Orleans won one playoff series in those two appearances. Davis’ numbers might be near the top of the league on both ends of the floor, but it rarely showed up in the standings.

Those questions aside, this clearly gives the Lakers a chance to break through in the Western conference. Davis will be motivated to cement his place as one of the most dominant big men in the game and will have James alongside him. Kyle Kuzma, reportedly a player the Lakers did not want to part with at any cost, will continue his ascent. Los Angeles made a splash last offseason with James; it made another before the draft with Davis. The Lakers can still attempt to land a third star in free agency to form a potentially dangerous trio.

For the Pelicans, David Griffin gets a tremendous haul in return. Ball is a strong creator and can defend multiple positions on the perimeter, giving New Orleans a strong defensive backcourt. Ingram is still growing into his body as a wing scorer and has shown flashes of brilliance. Hart is a solid rotation player and 3-point shooter. New Orleans will add another talented player with the No. 4 overall selection. Those future first-round picks might not carry much weight given Los Angeles’ potential success, but the Pelicans will have something down the line to add talent.

A core of Ball, Ingram, Hart and the No. 4 selection is a strong foundation for Griffin to build on in New Orleans. He’ll have his pick of prospects at the top and will likely take Williamson, the superhuman forward from Duke. The Pelicans will have an exciting young group for head coach Alvin Gentry to work with.

The Lakers got their second superstar. The Pelicans got their young foundation. After a long, dragged out process with both front offices undergoing significant changes, a deal finally got done. Will Davis help deliver immediate results to Los Angeles? Can New Orleans’ young core grow into a championship-caliber team? The answer to those questions will determine which team “won” the blockbuster trade.

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