The Los Angeles Lakers finally got the star that they needed to pair with LeBron James.
Acquiring Anthony Davis for the New Orleans Pelicans wasn’t cheap. The Lakers sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first round picks to New Orleans for the 26 year old superstar. On paper that seems like a lot for one player. But never forget, there’s a difference between “a lot” and “too much”.
Getting a true superstar in the NBA isn’t easy. And even when you get one, it’s very hard to keep them if you don’t win. The Pelicans had seven years to build a winner around Davis and failed to do so. They never got enough complimentary pieces to be a serious threat in the west. Unlike the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant, the Pelicans were able to get something in return for Davis. While most were upset with how Rich Paul navigated this situation, at least, he gave the Pelicans a chance to do something. That’s more than what Durant did for the Thunder.
For the Lakers, they’ll need to find a point guard and more perimeter shooting to go around James and Davis. There are several reports that say the Lakers are interested in Kemba Walker. The timing couldn’t come worse for Walker as he had indicated that he would sign with the Charlotte Hornets for less than the supermax. He doesn’t have to comply with what he said but still. It just looks a little messy. There’s also the possibility of convincing Kyrie Irving to come and team back up with James. Signing either one would solve the point guard issue.
The Lakers also need perimeter shooting. The two biggest perimeter solutions are Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. Allegedly, Leonard doesn’t have interest in teaming up with James. Butler might be a good fit on the court but what would that locker room be like? Butler and James in the same locker room means, everyone else on that roster better fall in line. Some players don’t do well in environments that are championship or bust. It’s always that way when you’re on James’ team but can you imagine the pressure of having James, Davis, and Butler?
For the Pelicans, David Griffin can’t make the same mistake Danny Ainge continuously makes. It’s great to have assets but you must cash them in. For all the bluster about was the Boston Celtics got from the Brooklyn Nets, it hasn’t gotten them to the NBA Finals. Plus, by overvaluing the assets, the Celtics have yet to pull off a trade for a major piece besides Irving. The problem with that was the Celtics were only guaranteed two seasons with Irving. After being hurt the first season, the Celtics underachieved this season and now Irving might leave without the Celtics ever capitalizing on having him.
New Orleans could use the Laker assets to get better pieces. If Griffin is interested in a veteran, he could package Ball and the 4th pick for more picks or a high level veteran. They could also move a valued asset like Ingram for additional picks or a series of young players. Griffin has to be creative beyond just sitting on a bunch of assets. Ainge did it and it cost him a chance at Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Windows aren’t open forever so the Pelicans must strike when the iron is hot.
So with all the excitement over trade both teams still have plenty of questions that need to be answered. Nothing in the NBA is cut and dry.