The Anthony Davis era in New Orleans appears to be on life support. News broke recently that Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans, the team that selected him first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Davis instantly became the face of the franchise and later a five-time NBA All-Star and one of the most popular sports figures in New Orleans history. It will be a sad day when the breakup is made official, but let’s not act like we didn’t see this coming.
For one, it’s super rare in today’s NBA to see a player stick with one team for their entire career. They simply don’t make them like Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan anymore, and that’s ok. Like most of you, I didn’t like when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State, but he had every right to do so. The players deserve the opportunity to explore new options and leave for greener pastures. (pun intended)
In that regard, it hurts that the Pelicans are the least valuable franchise in the league, according to Forbes. It’s hard to hang on to superstars when in that position. Not so much when you’re a bigger market team like the Los Angeles Lakers, who are reportedly in the running to acquire Davis. That could very well be the best case scenario for the Pelicans.
The Lakers would likely have to fork over a combination of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma or Brandon Ingram. All four are 23-years-old or younger and have the potential to be great NBA players. I’d venture to say a few have All-Star potential like Davis, but that wouldn’t keep the Lakers from pulling the trigger. Number one, Davis is a superstar and arguably the best player on the planet when healthy. And number two, he’s under contract for two more years, so he’s not a rental.
So what happens if a deal is made? Let’s say the Lakers get Davis, and the Pelicans get Hart, Kuzma and Ingram in exchange. I’m leaving out Ball because a third team might need to get involved for the trade to be possible.
The Lakers would have a starting lineup that included Davis, LeBron James and a combination of other ancillary pieces. It instantly makes them a better team and probably the second best team in the Western Conference behind the Warriors.
And crazy as it sounds, the Pelicans have nothing to lose by making this trade. Anthony Davis is no doubt a great player who’s given a lot to this franchise and the city of New Orleans, but the Pelicans have no chance of winning an NBA title as currently constructed. If the season ended today, they wouldn’t even make the playoffs. It’s not crazy to think the Pelicans would be far better off in the long run by making this trade, especially if those youngsters develop into the players they’re capable of becoming.