The long-delayed trade sending National Basketball Association superstar Anthony Davis out of New Orleans finally pushed through at the weekend, with the Pelicans agreeing with a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
As per reports, Davis will move to the Lakers and joining forces with LeBron James at La-La Land in exchange for young guns Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, the number four pick in this year’s rookie draft and two future draft picks.
Undoubtedly the deal instantly made the Lakers a title contender with generational players James and Davis in their fold. It is now up to the team how it would surround the “Bron-Brow” connection to achieve its championship aspirations.
Over at New Orleans, while the deal saw the team lose a bona fide superstar in Davis, it affords the Pelicans the opportunity to move on from a situation that obviously was not going anywhere since Davis made his desire to leave the Big Easy midway last season that all but ended their campaign en route to finishing joint 12th place in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record.
And in moving on, the Pelicans did get some quality pieces for the now and the future.
Ingram and Ball, while not All-Star caliber yet, have shown flashes of game-changer qualities that could help any franchise that will have them. Health issues (blood clot) surround Ingram at the moment but it has been reportedly being addressed and prognosis has been good.
Hart is a steady player on both ends and a solid addition as well.
These three, in addition to collegiate standout Zion Williamson, the projected first pick in this year’s rookie draft where the Pelicans will select number one, and All-Star guard Jrue Holiday should form a solid core.
Then there is the fourth pick in this year’s rookie draft that New Orleans got from Los Angeles which it could use to acquire another blue-chip player in the likes of shooting guard Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech and small forward De’Andre Hunter of Virginia.
Or they could use it to dangle and get a proven veteran in return, maybe in the form of Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic or Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls, who was part of trade talks prior to the Pelicans and Lakers agreeing on a deal.
Julius Randle, who had a steady campaign last season, had expressed his intention to test free agency in the offseason but if the Pelicans get to keep him the better for their reboot thrust.
The team also has young turks Kenrich Williams, Christian Wood and Frank Johnson and veterans Solomon Hill and Darius Miller on tap as possible auxiliaries.
Losing a player in Davis’s caliber is huge for a team like the Pelicans but considering where the team was prior to his departure and the not-so-rosy scenario had he stayed after everything that had happened, New Orleans is better off with the situation it is currently in and the players and assets it got.
Sure there could have been better packages for Davis somewhere out there. At the end of the day though, the Pelicans needed to move on. And move on they will, in the right direction at that.
Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.