After months of hardball negotiations, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired Anthony Davis to play alongside LeBron James.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported details of the move sending the 26-year-old to the Lakers, noting the Pelicans will receive Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.
Teams are already expressing significant interest in the No. 4 overall pick belonging now to the Pelicans, league sources tell ESPN. Talks are expected to continue over the next few days. This deal could get even bigger for the Pelicans.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2019
Ironically, the drama that started with Davis wanting to play in Los Angeles ends with the solution that felt inevitable all along. The Pelicans held out on a mid-season trade in hopes for a stronger offer — possibly from the Boston Celtics — over the summer, but ended up with a very similar deal to what they were offered in February. Per the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Celtics refused to include Jayson Tatum in a deal. Any leverage the Pels had was lost because Davis, who has just one year left on his contract, had the ultimate say in where he would stay long-term.
The Boston Celtics refused to make Jayson Tatum available in trade talks with New Orleans, league sources say, putting the Lakers in prime position to strike the deal that teams Anthony Davis with LeBron James
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 15, 2019
With the Warriors likely not contending for a title in 2019-20 because of the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Lakers sensed their chance to pounce — and pounce they did. Adding Davis to LeBron makes the Lakers instant NBA title contenders.
The updated NBA championship winner odds from @SuperBookUSA.
GS, Phi 12/1
Bos, Den 16/1
Utah, Por 30/1
SA, Ind, NO 60/1
Orl, Atl 80/1
Mem, Chi, Sac, Phx 100/1
Det, Cha, Mia, Wsh, Cle, Min 200/1
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 15, 2019
Next up for the Lakers is finding a replacement for Ball, and all signs point to the team targeting free agent Kemba Walker. A better solution would be to use the remaining cap space to surround James and Anthony with shooters.