The long-awaited Anthony Davis trade is a done deal. The Lakers are acquiring the star forward in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Davis and his agent Rich Paul first requested out of New Orleans before the trade deadline, and now Los Angeles has paired up AD with fellow Klutch client LeBron James. Let’s grade the deal for each side.
This is a home run for the Lakers. For all of Rob Pelinka’s bungling antics over the last two seasons, he is making a franchise-altering deal here. Los Angeles was entering a huge summer, and with James clearly on the downside of his prime, the Lakers could not afford to miss out on any stars for another offseason. Davis and James immediately become the most talented frontcourt pairing in the NBA. Davis, only 26, also figures to be a franchise centerpiece well after James’s contract ends. Los Angeles is giving up a big haul—but still hangs on to the talented Kyle Kuzma. The first-round picks will be forgotten if the Lakers are successful. Ingram and Ball are promising prospects, but neither has shown the potential to be as big of a star as Davis. The icing on the cake is that the Lakers will still have some cap space to work with come July 1, so their big summer could just be starting. (Kemba Walker is already a rumored target.)
Pelinka simply had to get this move done, and with the Celtics and god knows how many other teams circling like sharks, he pulled it off. This is the kind of move that can immediately make L.A. title favorites. There are no downsides here for the Lakers, who have made a year’s worth of embarrassing moments worth it.
It hurts to lose Davis, and some may accuse Pelicans president David Griffin of doing his former star James a favor. But Griffin may not have had the most appealing offers on the table after Paul made clear his client was dead-set on heading to LA—or at the very least entering free agency. It will be hard to judge this deal until the inevitable leaks emerge from the Celtics' offer, but for now, it’s a very solid haul for New Orleans (it's already rumored that the Celtics wouldn't include Jayson Tatum). The Pelicans don’t get a bona fide star, but Ingram, Ball, Zion Williamson and the No. 4 pick project to be an exciting core. The pick could still be packaged for a more established player, with Jrue Holiday looming as a potential trade chip as well.
The Pelicans won’t necessarily jump into the playoffs next season, but as far as reboots go, they could do a lot worse than the current core. Remember—the Lakers’ young core looked to be turning the corner before James’s arrival changed the timeline. If Ball and Ingram can get healthy, at the very least, they should be incredibly fun to watch running alongside Zion. I also would not be surprised if this team is not done dealing with the draft soon approaching.