Just like the Pacers drew it up – Rodney Stuckey air-balls and Solomon Hill beats every Hornet to the ball while facing the wrong direction.
LeBron James got exactly what he wanted — a young superstar to play with him, a guy who can be a force on both ends of the court. The kind of elite player the Lakers needed to not only make the playoffs next season but be a threat to win the West.
Anthony Davis got what he wanted — out of small market New Orleans to the brightest spotlight in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers. He will go unnoticed by casual fans no more.
A happy LeBron welcomed Davis to Los Angeles.
The Lakers gave up a lot to get Davis — some Lakers fans would argue too much — but they have landed two of the top seven players in the world (when healthy). Round out the roster wisely with veterans (and get some shooters this time) and the Laker can move into a crowded list of contenders next season (with the Warriors headed for a down year, teams are lining up to take their shot).
Lakers fans should be happy, what is in this Instagram post is going to win them a lot of games.
We have seen this before, the Lakers add a superstar player — Pau Gasol via trade, Shaquille O’Neal via free agency— and instantly vault up to being a title contender.
Of course, we have seen the Lakers add superstars in the offseason — say Dwight Howard and Steve Nash — and watch the whole thing blow up due to injuries and chemistry issues.
Neither of these scenarios is completely off the table with the LeBron James and Anthony Davis Lakers, which is going to be a reality now after the Lakers have agreed to a trade for Davis that sends Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first round picks (including the No. 4 pick in the 2019 Draft) to New Orleans.
The Lakers look like contenders on paper right now, but they have to round out the roster in a smart way.
Two key things will differentiate success and failure with these Lakers.
First is injuries. It’s obvious to state, but Davis has an injury history, and LeBron missed 18 games with a groin injury last season, the most time he has ever missed with an injury, but that’s what comes with age. If either or both miss significant time, this all comes apart.
Second is how the Lakers round out the roster. That is something the core of this Lakers’ front office did very poorly last season, we will see if lessons were learned.
Los Angeles going to try and add a third star.
The Lakers will have $27.7 million available in cap space on July 1 — that is not enough to sign Jimmy Butler or Kemba Walker to max deals. Both of them have been linked to the Lakers on various levels.
Sources have told me that after qualifying for a “supermax” contract extension (five years, $221 million), Walker is leaning heavily toward staying in Charlotte, a city he has grown to love (and his family enjoys). He could even give the Hornets a little hometown discount on the back end of that deal and make more than the max the Lakers or any other team could offer him. The question is, does this trade and the chance to chase a ring alter Walker’s thinking?
Butler, also, reportedly is leaning toward re-signing with the Sixers if they offer him a full five-year, $191 million max deal as expected (with Butler’s injury history, that fifth year only Philly can offer will matter to him). The same question about this deal changing his mindset applies to Butler as well.
The Lakers also could go after Kyrie Irving, although a number of people around the league view that as a longshot.
What the Lakers could do to max out Walker/Butler/Irving, as suggested by cap guru and consultant to NBA teams and agents Larry Coon, is to draft whoever the Pelicans want at No. 4, sign that player July 1, then trade him 30 days later (the first chance he is eligible) as part of the Davis deal where the salaries match up. It would delay the actual Davis trade but the Lakers would have the $32.5 needed for a max slot for a player with 7-9 years experience.
The Lakers also could go after guys who are not stars but are high level role players and may just be a better fit, such as J.J. Redick. The Lakers could use that $27 million to land three or more quality, solid NBA rotation players. That’s an internal discussion Los Angeles need to have.
Beyond that, the Lakers will have the room exception at $4.8 million and no other space.
Just like last year, the Lakers will need to bring in veterans on minimum contracts — and this time they may want to get some shooting in the mix. The challenge there is guys are taking minimum contracts for a reason, if they could secure longer and more lucrative deals they would. There are far fewer vets willing to take a lot less to chase a ring than fans realize.
These are first world problems for the Lakers, they have so enough elite stars its hard to round out the roster. The art is in doing it right because there are other contenders out there who have done just that.
The Toronto Raptors got to have the basketball world to themselves for 43 hours…
There was plenty of bad chemistry with the Lakers after the trade deadline and how an attempt to trade for Davis went down, so maybe we shouldn’t be shocked Ingram and Hart seem just fine with this deal.
LaVar Ball was at the Drew League in Los Angeles, watching his son LaMelo play when the news came down.
Of course, social media blew up around the NBA when the trade was announced.
And this is just awkward…
LeBron James has his second star next to him.
Anthony Davis has landed exactly where he wanted.
Things had been building toward this for more than a week. Boston was holding back — meaning they would not put Jayson Tatum in an offer. The Clippers and Nets couldn’t get any traction. And there were the Lakers with a quality package that was as good as it was likely going to get.
In the end, that deal — one the Pelicans did not take at the trade deadline — got it done.
Here are the details on the first round picks in the deal (and this makes it look even better for New Orleans).
The trade will not be formally consummated until after July 1 for salary cap reasons, but it’s done.
Pelicans’ new president David Griffin came in with an open mind and clean slate. At the trade deadline there was a “we’re not going to send Davis where he wants” mentality from New Orleans. Pelicans management felt put on the spot by the timing and public nature of the trade request by Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, and they didn’t want to feel rushed into a trade they didn’t want.
Griffin, however, saw the big picture — take the best offer, the trade isn’t about where Davis lands, it’s what’s best for New Orleans. That could have been Boston, but with Kyrie Irving having one foot out the door and almost certainly not re-signing with the team, the Celtics couldn’t go all-in on an offer and give the Pelicans what they wanted — Jayson Tatum.
No Tatum offer meant Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had leverage, so he was able to keep Kyle Kuzma out of any trade, something that mattered to Los Angeles. However, this may have been the Lakers only viable path to a star this summer. The top of the free agent market was not — and may still not not — lining up well for the Lakers. Even with this trade. Which is why there was also pressure on Pelinka to get this done, so he threw a lot in the trade. Maybe too much, but he had to get it done.
How the Lakers round out their roster will matter — they may want to add some shooting this time — but this trade vaults them into contender status, especially in a West with an injury-riddled Golden State squad.
This is a big win for a Lakers’ front office that has been maligned and called dysfunctional around the sudden stepping down of Magic Johnson.
Davis will play out his contract and become a free agent, something reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, but also obvious under the current salary cap rules. Davis’ max extension is two-years, $67 million in addition to his current deal (and it could be less than that if he gave up some of his trade kicker in this deal), his free agent contract will be five-years pushing $200 million. That is a no brainer. He will re-sign with the Lakers.
The Pelicans got a serious haul here that jumpstarts a rebuild: Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram as the forwards, whoever they take with the No. 4 pick (or trade that pick for, a real possibility), Lonzo Ball will play alongside Jrue Holiday, who is primarily a two-guard now (and Ball should thrive in Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo system, it plays to his strengths), Josh Hart is a solid role player. That is a team that could hang around and compete for a playoff spot in the West if things break right for them. Or, the Pelicans could flip those players for guys that they really want.
Just picture Lonzo throwing lobs to Zion. This team is going to be fun.
Beyond that, if Williamson develops into who many think he can be — a top-five kind of player in the league — the Pelicans may be a force in about 2023, right as the LeBron era in Los Angeles winds down.