David Griffin, you are a genius. The Los Angeles Lakers handed the New Orleans Pelicans three talented, young players and the fourth pick in this year’s draft in exchange for an injury-prone center in Anthony Davis. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Zion Williamson, and trade value for a top-five draft pick are headed to the “Big Easy” and will be playing for the Pelicans this October. All three of these players that the Lakers sent to New Orleans have high ceilings and were contributing when the Lakers looked like a playoff contender early last season. Injuries came about that shut down Ingram and Lonzo for the season but when they are healthy, both of these men are franchise-altering talents.
The additions of Zion Williamson and trade value for the fourth pick add another piece to the puzzle to rebuild the Pelican franchise. Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday become the leaders of this very young team that have set themselves up to be a better playoff contender than the Lakers, barring injuries or poor performance. If the talent on this New Orleans’ franchise can overcome the inexperience and develop chemistry where they all live up to their potential, then the Pelicans win the trade and have a better chance of making the postseason than their trade counterparts.
The Los Angeles Lakers have placed themselves in a predicament where they are placing all their eggs into one basket that incorporates a 17-year veteran in his mid-30s and a big man with an unfathomable injury history. Let’s also throw in that LeBron has suffered multiple injuries in recent years as well, which makes the situation even more of a risk for Rob Pelinka. While LeBron and Anthony Davis could be the scariest duo in NBA history, will the risk of these two getting injured at some point and sacrificing the future of the franchise be worth the hopes and prayers of a championship? If this duo fails to deliver what is being expected of them, this Laker franchise will fall hard as their only young talent comes in the form of Kyle Kuzma. After Kuzma, everyone else on the Laker roster is either old, injury-prone or a one-off contract.
There is little room for error in LA because the Western Conference is stacked with competitors. The Warriors will still be around. The Portland Trail Blazers got to the Conference Finals. The Denver Nuggets are potent with Nikola Jokic and the Los Angeles Clippers reached the playoffs without a star player and have two-max contracts to give out come June 30th. This is the swan song for LeBron. These final three years are his last hopes of bringing glory to a career that is currently tainted by six losses in the NBA Finals. This blockbuster trade is one of the biggest “Hail Marys” in sports history and will define LeBron’s legacy and prove that the Laker franchise has no direction in the future.