The addition of David Griffin in New Orleans and the lottery fortunes of both teams enabled the Lakers and Pelicans to work out an Anthony Davis trade yesterday after negotiations failed in February, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Griffin, whom the Pelicans hired in April as executive vice president of basketball operations, was “the biggest difference” this time around, a source tells Shelburne, adding that he had the freedom to “negotiate fairly and frankly.”
Although they made a show of dealing with the Lakers before the deadline, the Pelicans weren’t willing to entrust a franchise-altering deal to former GM Dell Demps, whom they were about to fire. Ownership in New Orleans resented the way the Lakers tried to force them into a deal and never gave serious consideration to any offers from L.A., Shelburne adds. Demps would only talk to former Lakers president Magic Johnson, not GM Rob Pelinka, then would write down the names being offered and leak them to the press, which led to chemistry issues in the L.A. locker room.
In addition to bringing Griffin into the equation, the situation changed when the Lakers landed the No. 4 pick in the lottery, giving them another valuable asset to include in their offer. The Pelicans might use that selection to add another top rookie to team with Zion Williamson or they might deal it to increase a haul that already includes three picks and three talented young players.
There’s more this morning on the NBA’s first blockbuster trade of the offseason:
- Although the Lakers got the best player in the deal, they only receive a C-plus grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, while the Pelicans get an A-minus. With the Celtics refusing to part with Jayson Tatum because they weren’t sure of a long-term commitment from Davis, the return of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart plus the draft picks was the best they were going to do, Pelton contends. They already have better talent to surround Williamson with than there were able to amass around Davis. Pelton states that the Lakers had to move on Davis because they were in danger of striking out in free agency, but they gave up a lot of cost-controlled young talent and now have a top-heavy roster that will have to be filled with bargain signings.
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated sees the deal as a huge win for the Lakers, who now return to relevancy after six years of missing the playoffs. LeBron James is about to turn 35 in December and L.A. was running out of time to surround him with stars. Mannix calls the deal a “career-defining moment” for Pelinka.
- After the trade was announced, the Lakers became clear betting favorites to win next year’s title. BetOnline.ag lists them as +350, well ahead of the second-place Bucks at +700.