Just days after the Toronto Raptors were declared NBA champions and top potential free agent Kevin Durant was likely lost for all of next season with a torn Achilles tendon, the NBA world was further turned upside down with All-NBA forward Anthony Davis reportedly being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis demanded a trade last season and the Pelicans were patient, but talks with Los Angeles accelerated in the past week, as New Orleans' newly named executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin reportedly wanted to get the deal done before Thursday's NBA Draft.
With Golden State potentially taking a step back due to injuries to Durant and Klay Thompson, the Lakers, led by Davis and LeBron James, are now poised to make a serious run at next season's NBA title. Here's a recap of the reported trade and grades for each team.
- Three first-round draft picks, including No. 4 overall in 2019
Lakers trade grade: B+
After elaborate planning from LeBron, Davis, Rich Paul and the Klutch Sports group, they finally got their wish. Anthony Davis has joined LeBron James -- and that's the reason why this deal, while a steep price to pay, is a win for the Lakers. Did they give up a lot of assets? Sure. But really, what choice did they have? Barring drastic improvement from Ball, Ingram, Hart and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers likely weren't going to contend for a title next season. And don't forget the team's chemistry issues that stemmed from the Davis trade talks last season, the team's front-office disarray and the fallout from Magic Johnson's departure, which may have dissuaded potential free agents from signing with them. Now the arrival of Davis gives them the luster to add a third star, and the Lakers are already reportedly eyeing Kemba Walker to fill that spot.
The grade for this deal is tough, because it's almost an incomplete. LeBron and Davis by themselves likely won't be enough to win the title, so a lot of the Lakers' potential for next season depends on the subsequent months. General manager Rob Pelinka has pressure to not only bring in a third star, but also surround them with the right complementary pieces -- something he failed to do last summer. If all of that goes right, this deal becomes an A-plus and the Lakers become title favorites. If it doesn't, at the very least they brought in one of the best players in the NBA to maximize LeBron's remaining years.
Pelicans trade grade: A+
If the NBA is a business of asset acquisition and management, Griffin just put on a master class. All three players New Orleans acquired are legitimate NBA starters and two of them, Ball and Ingram, have All-Star potential. The No. 4 pick in Thursday's draft is already reportedly drawing interest from several teams if the Pelicans aren't in love with any of the prospects expected to still be on the board by then, and the other two future first-round picks are a hot commodity in any deal. When teams trade a star player, this is the type of haul they desire, but rarely get.
If the Pelicans decide to keep the incoming players, they're looking at a potential starting lineup of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and possibly Julius Randle (he can opt out of his $9 million contract for next season). That's not a bad start for a rebuild, and trading any of those players and/or the first-round picks could bring them even closer to immediate contention. The biggest thing this deal does for the Pelicans is give them options, and that's a great thing to have with the current state of uncertainty throughout the NBA.