The Raptors can not even have a few days to celebrate a championship and organize a parade without the NBA being completely transformed. After months of rumors, public postures and symbolic shirts, the Lakers finally agreed to an exchange that will entice Anthony Davis to Los Angeles to play with LeBron James. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported On Saturday, Los Angeles will send a selection of young talent and a selection of Pelicans nominees: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, as well as several first-round picks. A league source told me Saturday that selections to New Orleans are no. 4 selection in the 2019 project, a first protected in 2021 and a first unprotected in 2024. The pelicans will also have the right to exchange their first in 2023.
LeBron had his wish. Like Davis. And the pelicans? They suddenly went from a desperately average team to the franchise with the brightest future in the league.
It's strange that some people act as if the Lakers had abandoned too much. Have not we just watched this team miss the playoffs? Did not people spend months mocking LeBron and the Lakers for failing? Have not we spent months speculating on what they would do if they missed Davis? There was no alternative that would realistically lead to a championship, and it is the front office's responsibility to maximize his years with LeBron. Klay Thompson being away for most of the season, the Western Conference is as open as it has been in five years. Kyle Kuzma, Moe Wagner and Magic Johnson, 59, will line up the Lakers at the start. Did the Lakers give up a lot? Yes. Should they have done the business? Duh, they just matched two of the top 10 players in the NBA and have certainly made the favorites to win the title.
The Lakers have a lot more work to do, of course. according to the New York TimesMarc Stein, Kemba Walker will be their main target in free agents. (Do not count on Kyrie Irving's meeting with LeBron, League sources expect him to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.) Kemba is expected to surrender $ 80.7 million guaranteed, not counting taxes, to leave Charlotte in Los Angeles. Walker has two choices: he can sign up again with the Hornets for $ 221.3 million over five years and spend the next five years fighting for the eight-seeded seed in the East, or he can sign with the Lakers for $ 140.6 million over four years and compete. for the championships.
Even to try their luck against Walker – or any other expensive free agent – the Lakers will have to wait to officially finalize this deal. If it were to pass before July 6, the Lakers could not create the $ 32.7 million needed to sign Walker or another free agent, such as Kawhi Leonard, who, according to sources from the league, will continue. It is likely that the AD deal will drop in the same way as the trade between Kevin Love and Cleveland. The two exchanges will have been orchestrated by David Griffin, then head of Cleveland, and is currently executive vice president of basketball operations in New Orleans. In 2014, the Cavs were to sign Andrew Wiggins on his rookie contract and then wait for 30 days until he was eligible to be traded to meet the NBA's contract requirements. Chances are, that's exactly what will happen with the Lakers and Pelicans.
Davis will never have life easier on the field than when he will play alongside LeBron. After years of dealing with double teams in New Orleans, The Brow will benefit from greater individual coverage in post-ups and singles. Many of these individual chances will come after a pick-and-roll with LeBron. The defenses will change and Davis or LeBron may have a mismatch advantage. If Kemba is thrown into the equation, he will become even more deadly. Walker has earned a reputation as a dominant star, but the truth is that he is one of the most dynamic shooters in the league. He scored an excellent 41.3% on points 3 in four over the past four seasons, many of which came from screens and transfers. Walker could space LeBron and AD, or create and feast mismatches. In other words, unless Kemba decides to stay in Charlotte, Bismack Biyombo and Nicolas Batum do nothing.
Can you say I'm excited about a Walker-Davis-James trio? I am excited about the Walker-Davis-James trio.
Davis is the last of a rich line of great Lakers, from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, and many others. It does not matter that Davis is one of the best defenders of the NBA; he is like a sentinel around the edge, using his limbs and eyebrow to shoot and avoid opponents testing him. Davis can trade for guards and wings. LeBron had a better defense season than he deserved, with his support team missing Lonzo (one of the NBA's top defensemen) for a good part of the season. But having two good defenders is not enough for a team to have excellent defense, just like having two or three stars is not enough to have a good attack. The teams need a support cast and the Lakers still have some work to do.
If the Lakers sign Kemba or another star to a maximum contract using a space limit, there will only be the mid-level exception of the room, worth $ 4.76 million, and the minimum of the league. Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade have not retired yet! Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Matthews, Jeff Green, and Joakim Noah are some other veterans who come to mind as candidates for alliance hunting. With the rest of their salary cap dedicated to LeBron, AD, a third star and Kuzma, as well as the rights of all their choices belonging to the Pelicans, the Lakers will have to be built by free will. General Manager Rob Pelinka needs to develop the lineup, but his starting point is a good start.
If the Lakers are present, pelicans are the future. Zion Williamson, who will almost certainly be selected for the first time at the NBA on Thursday, will be surrounded by young players able to play at a steady pace. Lonzo lobs at Zion will be the best moments of the evening. Like lions from Zion to Lonzo! Ingram will have more freedom than ever to push the tempo in transition and create for others. All their young players also play selfless basketball and good to big. Head Coach Alvin Gentry dropped the F bombs after the Pelicans won the lottery. He should swear a little more while he dreams of exciting pieces to be executed by this team.
Pelicans could also be very good at defense. They can all trade, Lonzo is already an excellent perimeter defender and Ingram is good. Zion presents himself as an explosive blocker for a rookie, and Jrue Holiday is a defensive first player. Despite the loss of a rim protector like Davis, New Orleans could improve in general. That's saying a little bit: they finished 20th last season. Their big problem will not be the defense, it will be the offensive spacing in the half-court. Opponents will not be exactly intimidated by an alignment featuring one of the aforementioned youths, Holiday, or anyone else they could sign, such as Julius Randle. But who cares?
Pelicans should want to be a young and fun team that develops youth and loses a lot of basketball games to get another best choice in 2020. Some of these young guys will be goalies. Some will be commercial baits. What Griffin has assembled is a set of assets that will allow him to build the team of his choice over the next four or five years. Griff plays essentially NBA 2K in real life. All that's missing is the simulation button to go beyond losing and winning years.
And this team could really, really win a day. They will probably be able to create a capital space to sign a maximum free agent, and they will receive incoming Lakers selections.
Remember that LeBron will be a free agent aged 38 in 2022. These choices could be incredibly valuable. Maybe Los Angeles will still be good after 2022, while Davis and LeBron, 29, will be close to 40 years old. But who knows? This transaction has the same nuances as the Celtics-Nets blockbuster in 2013 in that the Lakers are relinquishing almost all of their assets to build their chance for the title. Davis is obviously better than the old Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but the flexibility that the Celtics have enjoyed in recent years to pursue guys like Kevin Durant, or sign agents like Al Horford and Gordon Hayward and exchange stars like Kyrie Irving everything happened as a result of this Nets trade.
Pelicans now have the flexibility to perform the types of moves that only teams with championship aspirations can perform. They have a group of talented young players who improve every season – in an unstable situation in Los Angeles – and they will write their new face of the franchise at Zion Williamson on June 20th. The Lakers are today 's winners, but pelicans could be the winners of tomorrow.