Just a few weeks prior to the start of NBA free agency, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans pulled off what may be the biggest move of the offseason when the Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft.
However, that wasn't the final version of the deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Thursday that the Lakers have traded Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to the Washington Wizards as part of a reworked trade package with the Pelicans. The Lakers are also sending Washington a 2022 second-round pick as part of the deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. In addition, the Wizards will send the Pelicans $1.1 million as part of the reworked deal, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post.
"The Lakers are trading Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones to Wizards as part of the Anthony Davis deal with New Orleans, league sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me. Deal clears contracts and creates more cap space for free agency."
Making matters even better for the Lakers, they not only cleared the salaries of Wagner, Bonga and Jones, Anthony Davis is also waiving his $4 million trade kicker, which will give the Lakers $32 million in cap space and enable them to sign a free agent to a max deal.
Whether it had any impact on Davis' decision to waive his trade kicker or not, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that James has agreed to give up the No. 23 jersey he wore for the Purple and Gold this past season so that Davis can continue to wear the same number he has donned his entire professional career.
Los Angeles has been after Davis for months, ever since he first went public with his trade request back in January -- a move he was fined $50,000 for. The two teams were unable to complete a deal ahead of the trade deadline, though, and in the aftermath, both teams cratered amid what Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry called the most "toxic" situation he's seen in his three decades in the league.
Since then, rumors and reports have circulated pretty much nonstop. The Pelicans winning the Draft Lottery last month only made things more interesting, as did the Lakers moving up to grab the No. 4 overall pick. During the past week, things really started to pick up, with both the Lakers and Celtics -- despite concerns that Davis didn't want to play there -- making concerted efforts to complete a deal. According to a report from the New York Times' Marc Stein, the Celtics refused to include Jayson Tatum in the deal, which was a breaking point for the Pelicans.
Thus, the Lakers were able to get things done and secure the second star they've been after to pair with LeBron James. Shortly after the initial deal was agreed upon, LeBron welcomed his new teammate to Los Angeles with a message on Instagram.
Los Angeles gave up a number of talented young players in Ball, Ingram and Hart, as well as three first-round picks, but that's the price you have to pay to acquire one of the best players in the league. They have a number of roster spots to fill in free agency this summer, but they'll hope the star power of LeBron and Davis can get them back into title contention.
According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh's projections, however, they have just a 6.3 percent chance of winning the title next season. Oh projects the Lakers to earn the No. 3 seed in the West next season with 50.6 wins. However, it must be noted that their roster is far from a complete product, and that could change depending on what happens this summer.
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As for the Pelicans, they'll now begin their rebuild and will do so with all sorts of young talent. In addition to Ball, Ingram and Hart, they own a top-8 protected in 2021 which becomes unprotected in 2022. Also, the Pelicans also will receive the option to have an unprotected swap in 2023 as well as an unprotected first-round pick in 2024 and an unprotected swap in 2025.
An interesting note on the picks, is that according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the Pelicans "essentially have control of the Lakers draft for the next 7 years" due to various pick swap options.