Josh Peter USA TODAY
Published 8:32 PM EDT Jun 15, 2019
The Los Angeles Lakers did more than rock the NBA on Saturday with a deal to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks. They also created winners and losers.
Let’s get the losers out of the way first.
Ball family: Oh, well. So much for LaVar Ball’s grand plans to create a new Lakers dynasty with his three sons. As absurd as the notion always was, it was hard to ignore LaVar’s proclamations and predictions after the Lakers’ took Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick of the 2017 draft. But the Lakers never expressed a hint of interest in LiAngelo Ball after he left UCLA during his freshman season, and LaMelo’s future as a pro remains in question. The only thing for sure is the Ball brothers won’t be teaming up with the Lakers. Not after the team agreed to ship Lonzo to the Pelicans as part of the trade to secure Davis.
The Big Baller Brand, already on the decline, might have suffered a death blow as a result of this trade. It’ll be hard to justify the same old hype for overpriced sneakers and apparel anymore.
Boston Celtics: Losing out on Davis hurts. But losing Davis to your hated rival? Excruciating. The Lakers have failed to reach the playoffs for six seasons, and yet still they out-manuevered the Celtics, who reached the Eastern Conference finals a year ago. There’s nothing Celtics fans can tolerate less than the Lakers getting better — at the Celtics’ expense. Two years ago, the Celtics appeared to have what they needed to make a run at the NBA title. But last season exposed those hopes as ill-founded. Davis could have certified the Celtics is as title contenders again. Now they must look for alternate solutions and curse the Lakers’ good luck.
Golden State Warriors: As if the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson weren’t bad enough. With this monster deal, the Lakers are but a a step away from overtaking the Warriors as the most powerful team in the Western Conference. Apologies to the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets. If the Lakers acquire an All-Star point guard, and there’s a good chance they will, the West will be ruled by purple-and-gold again. Losing the NBA championship to the Toronto Raptors hurts, but this trade could have a more profound impact on the Warriors’ ability to maintain their status as top dogs of the Western Conference.
Anthony Davis: Even the crawfish étouffée, jambalaya and Jazz Fest get old after seven years in New Orleans — especially if your goal is to win an NBA title. The stage in New Orleans was too small for Davis and his massive gifts. He’s a big-market talent who’s been languishing in a small-market town. LeBron James will show Davis how to market himself off the court and serve as the ideal on-court business partner Davis needs to win an NBA title. In New Orleans, he was expected to do it all. In Los Angeles, James will be able to show Davis the way.
LeBron James: What, you thought he was going to win an NBA title with Ball, Ingram and Hart? Please. Davis is the type of player James needed. Not only does Davis possess the talent, but he has the temperament that will lend itself to a leader like James.
Lakers fans: For those worried that Davis might test free agency after next season, embrace the reality. That’s the type of pressure the Lakers should feel to get this right and get it right now. James has three years left on his contract with the Lakers, the Lakers have failed to make the playoffs for the past six seasons and failed to win a title since 2010. No more time to wait. So here’s hoping Davis helps ramp up the pressure on the front office to get things right. Lakers fans deserve no less.