Since January, the Los Angeles Lakers desperately were in pursuit of pulling off a blockbuster trade that would pair LeBron James with 26-year-old superstar Anthony Davis.
The New Orleans Pelicans did everything in their power to keep its prized possession in Davis to stay with the team, but newly named executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin knew he must maximize on trade value for the three-time All-NBA forward.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Saturday that the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans had agreed to a deal to send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks — including this year’s No. 4 overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft in exchange for Davis.
The deal can’t be officially completed until July 6 due to salary cap reasons, according to Wojnarowski.
Davis will join elite big men in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, and Pau Gasol to sport the legendary purple and gold for Los Angeles.
James’s and Davis’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports group, perfectly maneuvered its January trade request to move on from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
The former Rookie of The Year and No. 1 overall pick by the Pelicans in 2012, played seven seasons for New Orleans, averaging 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.
ESPN NBA Analyst and Los Angeles Sparks Forward Chiney Ogwumike shared her thoughts on the blockbuster deal and the impact it will have throughout the league.
“They’re officially a cheat code, LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis, problems [for the league],” said Ogwumike.
“I think they are the front runners to win an NBA championship and will get another free agent with the money they still have available.”
The New York Times, Marc Stein reported that the Lakers, who are well short of max cap space in the $23.8 million range, will now set their sights on signing unrestricted free agent Kemba Walker, who warrants closer to $30 million a year.
After six years of acquiring young talent through the draft, the Lakers signed James last summer and traded for Davis this summer, immediately positioning themselves as Western Conference contenders.
According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Lakers are 7-2 to win the title next year, leaping out to be heavy favorites ahead of 2019-20 season.
The Bucks and Clippers are tied at 6-1 behind Los Angeles, while the Raptors and Rockets come in with 8-1 odds.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk spoke to Lavar Ball, father of recently traded Laker guard, Lonzo Ball, while at the Drew League on Saturday.
“I guarantee: Like I say again, it will be the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life and they will never win another championship,” Ball said to ESPN, also mentioning how Los Angeles made a mistake in not drafting Lonzo’s younger brother, LiAngelo in the 2018 NBA draft.
“They’re going to regret it. I’m going to have fun with it. Because I told you all, it was crashing down. Now [the Lakers] completely crashed, but at least my son got off the boat before the thing exploded. I gave them a chance. You can rewind it and go back. I said if you get the three Ball brothers, you can survive this. You let him go, oh, it’s going to be a cold day in hell. Trust and believe that.”
The Lakers know they must capitalize on its timeline to win an NBA Championship while the Golden State Warriors are not at full strength.
Kevin Durant suffered a devastating ruptured Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and Klay Thompson tore his ACL late in the third quarter of Game 6. Both players for the Warriors are headed for unrestricted free-agency, as Golden State will be heavily dependent on having at least one of them resign and be healthy around playoff time, most likely being Thompson.
James, 34 years old, a four-time NBA most valuable player and three-time NBA champion will look to take over the league with his new All-NBA big man in Davis.
With the trade, the Lakers undoubtedly should be able to make a long postseason run for the first time in six seasons, with Anthony Davis, LeBron James and a third possible star still to be determined for the 2019-20 season.