The Los Angeles Lakers did what they needed to get a deal done for Anthony Davis.
That said, the New Orleans Pelicans are more than pleased with their haul given their lack of leverage. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Sunday that no team came close to offering the package the Lakers gave up.
“I don’t know that there’s any certainties in the NBA, but Anthony Davis has indicated all along that he wanted to be with the Lakers and that he would sign long-term there,” Wojnarowski said. “And that’s partly what made the deal so impressive from New Orleans’ point of view was that they didn’t have a lot of leverage out in the market place. Boston was interested, there was some other teams, but nobody willing to give up everything that the Lakers did.”
The Lakers traded Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s draft and two future first-round picks for Davis on Saturday. Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported the Pelicans also got pick-swap rights from the Lakers in 2023 and 2025.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Boston Celtics, considered the other main contender for Davis, refused to offer Jayson Tatum in trade talks with the Pelicans. That essentially left the Lakers as the only suitor, which is exactly how Rich Paul and Klutch Sports wanted the situation to play out.
That Pelicans president of basketball operations David Griffin got this much out of the Lakers is a credit to his basketball savvy. This is as much as any team has given up in terms of draft capital since the Brooklyn Nets mortgaged their future on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The difference in this case is that Davis is 26 while Garnett and Pierce were deep into their 30s, but the Lakers are taking a major risk.
LeBron James turns 35 in December. He’s coming off a season in which he suffered the first major injury of his career. There is no guarantee that a third star will join Davis and LeBron. Even assuming Davis re-signs with the Lakers long-term, there is a real possibility the Lakers are giving up picks that wind up being valuable.
By making this deal, the Lakers are essentially banking on being a playoff team for the next six seasons. That’s a huge bet, even on a star as bright as Davis.