Anthony Davis has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers by the New Orleans Pelicans. While the Lakers gave up a ton to acquire Davis, this is the kind of franchise-changing move that could lead them back to serious contention. LeBron James finally has a true sidekick worthy of the name.
The Lakers will send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart the New Orleans along with three first-round draft picks. That’s a big haul. But for the Lakers, this was about maximizing the three years left on James’ contract while also acquiring a superstar who could be around long after James retires.
While it seems like he’s been in the NBA forever, Davis just turned 26 in March. He’s incredibly young, and is really scratching the surface of his prime. He’s a six-time All-Star and a three-time First Team All-NBA guy, who also made the All-Defensive First Team in 2018.
The Lakers desperately needed three things this offseason. First, they needed to find a star to run on James’ level. Check. They also needed to find a true rim protector (Davis has led the NBA in blocks three times). Check. Lastly they need to find at least one — and likely two or three — big time shooters. They remains undone.
The one issue here is Davis’ injury history. He’s battled them throughout his career and has never played more than 75 games in a season. During the 2018-19 season he played in just 56 games, though some of that was due to the Pelicans holding him out.
Still, Davis performed when he was on the floor. He finished the year averaging 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks in 33.0 minutes per game. He also upped his PER from 28.98 in 2017-18 to 30.32 in 2018-19. He’s nowhere close to falling off either.
The Kentucky product is a true star. He’ll be the Lakers’ next great big man in a long line that stretches from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain through the latest dynasties with Shaquille O'Neal and Pau Gasol.
Davis is an MVP caliber player every season and now he gets to play with James, who has wanted to team up with him for years. Considering the Lakers have another max contract slot open, the NBA could look very different when the season opens next season. The balance of power in the Western Conference could shift dramatically if James and Davis can convince another star to suit up in LA. With Kyle Kuzma still on board, the Lakers do have the makings of an excellent core already. A “Big 2.5” at this point.
This trade will shake the league to its core, and both parties got exactly what they wanted. David Griffin and the Pelicans got a ton of young, inexpensive assets to develop and the Lakers got a star worthy of playing next to LeBron James.
Now we’ll see if the Lakers can finally move out of their dumpster fire phase and back into the spotlight in the league.