ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the long awaited, “Woj Bomb”, announcing that the Los Angeles Lakers reached an agreement to acquire 3x All-Star Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the 4th Overall pick, and two additional future 1st round draft picks.
The blockbuster trade was finalized Saturday evening, and sent Twitter into a frenzy. Pelicans fans seem happy with the massive haul of players and picks, LeBron fans are ecstatic, and Lakers fans are loving the fact they got Anthony Davis in the purple and gold, but need some time to mourn the losses of their young core. All parties involved are happy, but who actually won the trade?
Los Angeles Lakers Perspective
The narrative surrounding the Lakers post Magic Johnson quitting was that the front office has no idea of how to run a team, there is no structure, not a single big time free agent wants to join the team this offseason. So Jeannie Buss and Rob Pelinka had to quickly change the narrative themselves and landing Anthony Davis via trade was the best available option. In my eyes, the move was expedited by the recent events that took place in the NBA Finals. Once Kevin Durant went down with a torn Achilles, and Klay Thompson went down with the Torn ACL, the NBA landscape changed. For the first time in years, the NBA championship is up for grabs. As teams jockey for position for the 2020 season, the Lakers with Lebron James and cap space were in prime position to make a move. After 5 months of speculation and back and forth between the Lakers and Pelicans, the two teams finally pulled the trigger.
Landing Davis is massive, however for the Lakers season to be a slam dunk, Pelinka must lure a big time free agent this Summer to balance out the lack of depth on the current roster. There are currently six Lakers under contract for next season, with only LeBron, Davis and Kyle Kuzma as the real rotation players. Replacing the production and minutes of Ball, Ingram and Hart, can be done in two ways. Sign an all star (Butler, Walker, Irving) and fill out the roster with crafty veterans who can space the floor and defend, or they can go the path of signing good players who are less than max contract guys, to build a “strength in numbers” kind of team. If I’m Pelinka, I continue the big game hunting and go for that 3rd max guy. 2020 is the window for the Lakers to win a NBA Championship, so you have to go all in and get the best players you can.
As for the current roster, the Lakers feature the best front court in the NBA with LeBron, Davis, and Kuzma. Take a look at their 2018-19 regular season stats.
2018-19 NBA regular season stats for the Lakers’ new front court:
Easily the best front court in the NBA moving forward.
— Trea (@InMyDurag) June 16, 2019
That is tremendous production that no other front court in the league could match.
New Orleans Pelicans Perspective
After the “break up brunch” GM David Griffin had with Anthony Davis a few weeks ago, the Pelicans hand was forced; they had to move on from the Anthony Davis era. Griffin said he wanted young players and draft picks, and that’s exactly what he got, leaving the Pelicans in arguably the best position in the entire NBA going forward.
Lonzo Ball running the show for the next decade plus, Brandon Ingram on the wing scoring 18 a night, a good 3 and D player in Josh Hart, plus the 4th pick in the NBA Draft that could land another building block is a massive haul for a single. Pair that with veteran combo guard Jrue Holiday and Forward Julius Randle who had good seasons with the Pelicans last season and the Pelicans have a legit starting 5 that can compete night in and night out for years to come. Oh and have you heard of Zion Williamson? He will be the face of the rebuild in NOLA, and find himself on HouseofHighlights Instagram for the lobs he receive from Lonzo Ball.
Anthony Davis Is Out of The Dark And Can Shine In the Bright Lights of Los Angeles
For his first seven seasons, Anthony Davis played in obscurity. That is no shot at New Orleans. It is great town, a lot of culture, but in terms of basketball, it may as well be Siberia. New Orleans has no historic relevance to the game, very little success as a franchise, and poor management for the majority of Davis’ time with the team.
For the first time in his career, Anthony Davis will be on the big stage with the bright lights to truly showcase his ability. A lot of Davis’ accomplishments and feats went un noticed in New Orleans, just take a look at his statistics from this season. 25.9 points, 12 rebounds, 3.9 assists, on 51.7% shooting. He did all that in limited playing time considering he often only played half the game.
Arriving in Los Angeles, in particular the Purple and Gold, Davis will have hefty expectations to live up to. Wilt Chamberlin, Kareem Abdul-Jabrr, Shaq, and most recently Pau Gasol, all produced a championship while dawning the iconic purple and gold Lakers jersey. Anthony Davis is next up. Just think of how much Davis’ name and legacy could elevate in Los Angeles considering the bright lights of L.A. made Gasol a house hold name after years of putting up numbers in Memphis. Davis has much more talent, and is now entering the prime of his career. If he continues to post the numbers he has been, and brings a titles to Los Angeles, he will go down as a legend in this game.
Winner of the Trade?
It might sound like a copout answer but in this situation it was a win win for both teams. The Lakers get a second star to pair with Lebron James and save face after the whole dumpster fire of Magic Johnson quitting. The Pelicans get a fresh start with a young core of Zion, Lonzo and Ingram, sexing up for future success. And Anthony Davis got to his preferred destination of Los Angeles. It is rare that each party succeeds in a trade, but on paper and in theory, that is exactly what happened here.