The Los Angeles Lakers finally found a running partner for LeBron James. It comes in the form of six-time All-Star Anthony Davis, who is the single most skilled big man in the NBA.
This changes the entire dynamic of the NBA heading into what promises to be a busy summer. There’s so much to look at. Are the Lakers now legit title contenders? What does this mean for the Golden State Warriors out west?
It’s in this that we look at the biggest winners and losers from Saturday’s blockbuster four-player trade between the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
Winner: LeBron James
This goes without saying. King James signed with the Lakers last summer fully expecting them to be able to add a star player. One year later, and that’s come to fruition. James had his Lakers in playoff contention prior to going down to injury on Christmas Day. Now with Davis aboard, we can expect the Lakers to be much better next season. James now has his best running partner since Kyrie Irving.
Loser: Boston Celtics
We credit Celtics general manager Danny Ainge for not getting into a bidding war with the Lakers for Davis. Boston was not going to part with 21-year-old forward Jayson Tatum. Even then, this puts the Celtics in a less-than-ideal scenario. They are already facing lengthy odds in terms of retaining Kyrie Irving in free agency. Being unable to land Davis could expedite matters in that regard. Without Irving or Davis, would the Celtics even be considered contenders back east? We’re not entirely too sure. It all depends on the growth of Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Winner: New Orleans Pelicans
Everyone knew that the Pelicans had Davis on the block. They were going to lose him for nothing following the 2019-20 season. Getting three young players and three first-round picks back in return has to be seen as a win. Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart will likely start next season next to Jrue Holiday and Zion Williamson. Meanwhile, New Orleans could turn Lonzo Ball into more assets in a trade. That doesn’t even take into account the fourth overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft. General manager David Griffin is building something big.
Loser: Golden State Warriors
Following serious injuries to Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL), the Warriors are already facing a difficult road ahead to earn a sixth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. That’s now magnified with a division rival adding one of the game’s best players. Davis and LeBron teaming up with one another will relegate Golden State to second-tier status in the Pacific Division. That’s one of the biggest takeaways here.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
By adding Davis to the mix ahead of free agency, the Lakers have set themselves up well to sign a max-contract player once the calendar turns to July. Stars are going to be lining up to team up with King James and AD. How will the Lakers handle this new-found interest in them? Does the Davis trade make it more likely someone like Kyrie Irving heads to Los Angeles? Maybe Jimmy Butler makes sense. Either way, the options are now seemingly endless.
Loser: LaVar Ball
For all the talking over the past couple years, Mr. Ball has to be considered a loser. Lonzo was going to lead the Lakers to multiple championships. His other son was going to be better than LeBron James. The former UCLA standout was held back by former head coach Luke Walton. The list goes on and on. But now, Mr. Ball is going to have to eat his words. It’s not known if Lonzo will head to New Orleans or another city. But no matter what, the days of the older Ball getting away with what we saw in Southern California are over.