He apparently wasn’t ready to hit the ground running in Charlotte’s preseason win over Miami yesterday.
The New Orleans Pelicans just became must-watch television. They are early contenders for League Pass favorites next season.
Teams never get equal value back when trading a superstar, but the Pelicans did as well as could be hoped in the Anthony Davis trade agreed to on Saturday (it can’t be executed until July for salary cap reasons). You can make an argument the Pelicans won that trade in the long term. New Orleans landed Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, three first round picks (including this year’s No. 4) and a series of pick swaps. The Pelicans are not committed to that group, they could flip those players and the picks for something they want more, but one thing remains clear:
The Pelicans are going to be fun to watch.
Zion Williamson was already the kind of player that makes you stop and watch, the kind of player you can’t take your eyes off of. Thunderous dunks in transition are coming.
Coach Alvin Gentry likes to play fast — New Orleans played at the second-fastest pace in the NBA last season. That is the style where Lonzo Ball thrives. Ball plays an instinctual style of game suited to the open court, where his court vision and passing can take advantage of a scrambling defense. It’s kind of a playground style. It worked well with the Lakers when they ran two seasons ago (they played fast this season, but when LeBron was on the court it was different). Brandon Ingram can finish in transition, plus he will become a go-to shot creator in the half court for New Orleans. He’s going to get the kind of touches he wants.
Jrue Holiday with Ball will form an outstanding defensive backcourt.
And the Pelicans have the No. 4 pick in this draft, which means Jarrett Culver could join them on the wing, a shooter and finisher with a great feel for the game.
Make no mistake, Pelicans president David Griffin rolled the dice here, he chose to go young rather than get an established All-Star back. Ball has an injury history already and Ingram has not lived up to the hype. The picks (including Williamson) may not pan out as hoped, and if the Lakers are as good as they think they will be those could be some late round picks.
Still, the haul from this trade is the kind that transforms franchises. New Orleans has a real chance to be good fast.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be must-watch television.
These Pelicans are going to be entertaining.
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…