After a failed trade deadline deal between the Lakers and Pelicans, New Orleans finally agreed to send Anthony Davis to Los Angeles Saturday Afternoon.
Davis, Rich Paul, Lebron James, the Lakers, and even the Pelicans all walked away winners. While the Lakers now feature a top superstar duo in the league, the Pelicans brought in a good return for the all-star center.
The Lakers sent a healthy package of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three 1st round picks. This includes the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
A huge plus for the Lakers was their ability to keep forward Kyle Kuzma. Behind James and Davis, he’ll have a chance to become the legitimate third scoring option every title contender needs.
With those three players, the Lakers have the initial framework to move to the top of the Western Conference. Especially since many teams above them seem to be crumbling.
The Warriors have to make a free agency decision with both Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. Even if they are somehow able to keep both, they’re both projected to miss most of, if not the whole 2019-2020 season with an injury.
The Houston Rockets are facing turmoil with not only their top two players in Chris Paul and James Harden but coach Mike D’Antoni as well. Houston’s inability to reach a contract extension with D’Antoni creates a potential walk year for the offensive wizard coach.
In terms of Harden and Paul, multiple sources have reported growing tensions between the two stars. It has even gone as far as Chris Paul being mentioned in trade talks.
After the top two teams, things settle down. Teams such as Portland, Utah, Denver and Oklahoma City make up the remaining top competition in the West.
With the right pieces around James and Davis, the Lakers should be considered favorites to come out of the West. None of the above teams feature the star talent the Lakers do.
After all, come playoffs, stars matter.
So the pressure now shifts to Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss to fill out the roster. Another year of surrounding Lebron with a bunch of misfits simply won’t get the job done.
Los Angeles needs two things to start. Guard play and three-point shooting.
The team will enter free agency with a projected $23.7 million at worse, with the potential to have $32 million if a couple of pieces fall into place.
Nonetheless, names such as Danny Green, Patrick Beverly, Trevor Ariza, Nikola Mirotic, Darren Collison, J.J. Redick, and Terrence Ross immediately stand out.
All would be affordable role players for the Lakers. Rather than attempting to squeeze all of their money into a max free agent, spreading the money around is the Lakers top option.
The team will be squeezed to fill out all their roster needs with the remaining money. However with just James and Davis, not much more is needed.
Times have changed in the NBA. The Lakers Purple and Gold appears to be returning to prominence. Welcome to LA Mr. Anthony Davis.