Pelicans agree to trade Anthony Davis to Lakers

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Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis has been traded.

After 139 days of speculation, smokescreens, contradictions and plenty of predictions, the most decorated player in the history of the New Orleans Pelicans is gone.

According to a report by ESPN Senior Basketball Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Davis will he sent to the Los Angeles Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram, as well as three first round picks, including the fourth selection in this year’s draft.

By league rules, the deal cannot be made official until July 6.

Davis gets his wish by heading to Los Angeles to partner with LeBron James and the Pelicans now move on to the process of building around likely number one pick Zion Williamson.

The Lakers had been the most ardent pursuers of Davis since he first announced his trade demand in January.

While many Pelicans fans held out hope that Davis would be dealt to the Boston Celtics in exchange for a package centered around young forward Jayson Tatum, the Celtics were unwilling to part with a potential superstar, especially with reports circulating that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving plans to sign elsewhere once he becomes a free agent on July 1.

The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks never emerged as serious contenders during this process, with each lacking either the draft picks or collection of talent to sway Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin.

Even after the disastrous “negotiations” up until last season’s trade deadline, the Pelicans refused to rule out Los Angeles as a potential partner for a deal.

Apparently, today that partnership was consummated, producing a deal that could dramatically change the landscape of the entire NBA.

For the Lakers, it means they have that elusive second star that they had been trying to find since James signed on the dotted line last summer.

For the Pelicans, it means they have options. There is already interest in the fourth pick in this year’s draft from a number of teams, per Wojnarowski, indicating that Griffin probably isn’t done making moves.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has reported that the Pelicans will also have the ability, through pick swaps, to “control the Lakers draft for the next seven years.” Fellow World Wide Leader reporter Brain Windhorst

The young talent they received does have potential.

Lonzo Ball has been a favorite of Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s for some time. Over parts of two seasons, the 6-6 Ball has averaged 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. Entering his third season, Ball has shown flashes of greatness as a passer and defender.

He finished eighth among point guards in Defensive Real Plus Minus, third among those who averaged at least 30 minutes per game. With him at the head of the Lakers’ defense, Los Angeles ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive rating. After he was shut down for the season with an ankle injury, they fell to 22nd.

Of course, there are two large concerns with Ball, and neither is his father LaVar.

The first is his health. Due to knee and ankle injuries Lonzo Ball has suited up for just 99 of a possible 164 games in his career, missing nearly 40 percent of the last two seasons.

The second is his shooting. Cursed with an unorthodox release, Ball is one of the worst shooters in the NBA. Last season he was the only player in the league to play at least 40 games and shoot less than 41 percent overall, less than 35 percent from deep, and less than 45 percent at the free throw line.

He did improve from his rookie year numbers, lifting his field goal percentage from 36 percent to 40.6, and his three point percentage from 30.5 percent to 32.9. However, his free throw shooting cratered to 41.7 percent.

Brandon Ingram is another extremely talented player that comes with concerns. Two seasons ago, Ingram was deemed untouchable by then Lakers president Magic Johnson.

Ingram was on his way to justifying that level of confidence last season, posting a career-high 18.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists while shooting just under 50 percent from the floor. He had 20 games with 20 points or more. For comparison, the Pelicans got a combined 12 games of 20 points or more from the players who manned the position.

His season was brought to a premature end as he was playing his best basketball by a diagnosis of Deep Venous Thrombosis (blood clots) in his right arm that required surgery.

Recently, reports have surfaced that Ingram is on schedule for a complete recovery and that there is no underlying medical condition that should lead to a recurrence.

One would have to imagine that Griffin and his team thoroughly reviewed Ingram’s medical records before signing off on the deal.

Though Ingram has been very effective inside the arc, he has been less so beyond it. He’s a career 33 percent shooter on three-point attempts, but he’s yet to average one three per game in his career. Extending his range, especially considering his slight build will be a priority if he’s going to be a long-term solution to the Pels’ woes on the wing.

Ingram will enter the 2019-20 season in the final year of his rookie contract, meaning the Pelicans don’t have a lot of time to make a decision about his future.

Josh Hart is the least heralded of the trio, but he could become an immediate contributor as a bench scorer.

In two seasons, more than 56 percent of Hart’s field goal attempts have been three-pointers, and he has converted a solid 36 percent of those attempts. As a rookie he shot better than 51 percent from the corner, though he tailed off a bit last season.

His youth and ability make him an upgrade over Ian Clark and Dairis Bertans, and with a salary of just over $1.9 million this season and a team option for next, he is a low-risk and potentially high reward player.

Essentially, the Pelicans have received six first rounders for Davis. It’s hard to argue that they could have gotten much more in any other deal.

It’s also hard to argue that fans won’t be disappointed that Davis ultimately ended up with a team that they have grown to despise over the past five months.

But Davis is gone, and there’s no turning back. Davis is the biggest domino to fall in Griffin’s remaking of the Pelicans, but he won’t be the last.

Things are just getting started.

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David Grubb

David Grubb

Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter

David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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