On June 15 at approximately 3:27 p.m., Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN dropped the tweet heard around world. The Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans agreed to a trade that will send six-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick in this Thursday’s draft along with future picks.
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was not included in the trade and will remain as a vital piece for the Lakers moving forward. Acquiring Davis may have come at a steep price to some. Over the past several years, the Lakers have had such a lack of success. That along with a disappointing season in LeBron James’ first season under contract, the Lakers making this move is completely understandable.
More so, we don’t definitively know when the trade is going to be finalized, which is huge. Tania Ganguli, a very trusted Lakers source reported that “the plan is to execute the trade on July 6, right after the moratorium ends on the start of free agency – and its unlikely to change.”
If the Lakers and Pelicans make the trade official on July 6 instead of July 30, that may take away the Lakers potential cap space to sign another max free agent this off season. Davis can also waive his trade kicker which would give the Lakers an additional $4M in cap space for this summer.
Many small details and nuances of the trade (When it’ll be official. Whether Davis will waive his trade kicker) have yet to be officially released. With the NBA draft set to take place this Thursday, additional details surrounding the trade will be released due to the No. 4 pick being involved. When all of that information is official, we then can truly gauge how well the Lakers did. We can also see how well they can do in the future surrounding this trade.
What this means for the franchise:
Davis is a six-time All-Star, three-time All NBA First-Team, led the league in blocked shots in three times (2014, 2015, and 2018) and made the all-rookie first team. He has been a clear top-3 NBA talent when healthy. During the 2018-19 NBA season, per-36 minutes, Davis averaged 28.3 points per game, 13.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.6 blocks on 54 percent shooting and 33 percent from behind the 3-point line. Davis has shown his ability to dominate the floor on both ends, consistently, and willingly, more importantly. Pairing Davis with an aging superstar like James should (that’s a big should) be the perfect formula to form a successful powerhouse contender in the Western Conference.
The Golden State Warriors are going through their tragic injuries and the Houston Rockets are in disarray. Also, we know the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers don’t have the star power to come out of the West. Many see this as the window to push for their 17th banner. Think about that for a second. When is the last time you’ve been able to say that, truthfully, while also having the players to back it up?
The Lakers can and should seriously be in contention to come out of the West this up and coming season. Why, you may ask? Not because we believe Ball, Ingram and Hart will take the next step in their game and help LeBron, but because the Lakers now have Anthony freaking Davis in the same uniform as LeBron, both playing for that one common goal: the Larry O’Brien trophy.
What LeBron has always done
James is three-time NBA champion, 15-time All-Star, four-time NBA MVP, two-time Finals MVP and 12-time NBA. Should I continue?
The 2018-19 was the first time he missed the playoffs since the 2004-05 NBA season, his sophomore year in the NBA. The 2018-19 NBA season was the first season where an injury sidelined James for 10+ games. It reached a point where the team decided to shut him down for the final six games of the season. He was in uncomfortable, unfamiliar, frustrating territory this season for the first time in a very long time. Despite the media, fellow general managers (unnamed of course) and NBA fans claiming LeBron was now “washed” and underperforming, the numbers say otherwise. A 34-year-old LeBron James averaged a steady 28 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.3 steals on 58 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from behind the arc per 36 minutes. Now, if that’s washed, then I’ll gladly take that paired alongside Davis for at least the next two years.
What it all means for Los Angeles
When Davis requested his trade from the Pelicans initially, he stated that all he wanted to do is win. He has the opportunity and be in a better position to “win now” at this point in his career. He gave New Orleans seven years of consistent, dominating, franchise-changing basketball. The front office failed over and over to surround Davis with the proper talent to compete for a championship. He never competed for something bigger than trying to squeak out a first round series win. In his seven years with the Pelicans, Davis appeared in only 13 playoff games, total.
People will (and already have) try to spin this. Most will claim Rich Paul was talking for Davis and he forced his client to push his way to Los Angeles. That is the furthest from the truth and insulting to a guy like Anthony Davis. Pairing with LeBron James, wearing that Lakers jersey and reviving the franchise was enough for Davis. Bringing them back to the promise land will produce great results for Davis both on the court like he desperately desires, and off the court as well. Davis has taken on the challenge in Los Angeles as the new face and future of this franchise. The fans expect he and LeBron to be raising that Larry O’Brien trophy sooner than later. They expect the Lakers to be a powerhouse in the Western Conference for years to come. The fans expect deep playoffs runs. They expect to be playing games going into April and May.
The fans expected a change, a new direction and a new vision. The fans wanted a reason to have optimism and look forward to what the future has in store. Signing James last summer gave those expectations some true validity. They are now hungry, eager to win and to make a statement in the league. Now, with James and Davis both in Los Angeles, the expectations are now through the roof, and rightfully so.
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