The New Orleans Pelicans pulled off a huge heist this summer with the trade of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pelicans receive Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and three first-round picks. Wow!
While Lakers’ fans are jumping for joy as Davis is now paired with LeBron James, the Pelicans’ have a REAL reason to celebrate.
Never mind what a tandem of Davis and James could do. What the Pelicans were thinking, was the future. The Lakers, although a successful franchise over their existence has always been about the now. And for that reason, they have managed to miss the playoffs for six straight seasons.
Lakers’ fans will argue just because they received Davis they won the trade. Sounds and looks good on paper but haven’t they been here before? Remember the Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Dwight Howard pairing? No team in the NBA was equipped to deal with that 2012 team. On paper, they were contenders. But on the floor, it was a total disaster. Not saying this new- look Lakers’ team will resemble that, but there is a slight chance it could happen.
For the New Orleans Pelicans, they rid themselves of a player who no longer wanted to be there and replaced him with younger and cheaper pieces. Gone are Anthony and now the Pelicans have their starting PG in Lonzo Ball, a SF who can score and defend in Brandon Ingram and instant offense off the bench in Josh Hart.
Let’s not forget they also grabbed the No. 4 pick from Los Angeles in which they flipped to the Atlanta Hawks for the 8th and 17th, and 35th pick in the 2019NBA Draft. So in all, they snagged three players who would be starters, three first round picks this year and still have $31M in cap space this summer.
How did they lose this trade?
Now, you add that young core with the No.1 pick, Zion Williamson, and this will be a young and dangerous team in 2019. There will be growing pains along the way but their future is bright. The Los Angeles Lakers are thinking championship today but even their plans took a big hit as mistakes were made by jumping the gun. The thought was that the Lakers would have enough space to sign two max players but by not waiting, cap restrictions were in place. Oops!
Once again, this is not about the Davis and James pairing. The Lakers were able to unload and add a star but how has that gone for teams like the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder or the Houston Rockets? Counting the Lakers out for next season would be a mistake but not respecting the Pelicans would be just as huge.
In the Western Conference, there are at least 3-4 teams, inked as a playoff contender. Last season, the Pelicans finished 33-49 (13th) but that was with Davis involved trade rumors and his absence due to minutes restrictions as a sort of punishment. Looking forward to 2019 and a core of Jrue Holiday, Ball, Ingram, Hart, and Williamson, who says a playoff berth is not out of the question?
The Lakers may have received one of the best players in the NBA in Davis but it also cost them their future. In a few years, LeBron will call it a career and with the Lakers handing out draft picks as if they grow on trees, how are they supposed to regroup?
The other thing to factor in is the salary cap. It doesn’t matter if the NBA decides to increase it every year, adding max players will still devalue their chances. How long can they continue to go after a Davis and Kyrie Irving in hopes that second and third-tier players will continue to take salary cuts while other teams are doing the same with a better supporting cast?
As happy as the Lakers are to see Davis in Purple & Gold, he still has yet to sign a contract extension. Meaning, if things fall apart this year, he could bolt the Lakers for a new team. Then what?
This is why the New Orleans Pelicans made off like bandits. Fans and analysts are looking at the names on the back of the jersey instead of the big picture. This is the same thing that happened with the supposedly lopsided trade between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. It appeared at the time that the Celtics got away with highway robbery. But a closer look would reveal the Nets may have come out better.
In hindsight, it’s a little difficult to determine who won. But if the Los Angeles Lakers fail to win a championship with Davis and LeBron, the victory goes to the Pelicans for sure.