The Los Angeles Lakers made the first big move of the 2019 NBA offseason when they pulled off the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Even though their designs on making it a Big 3 ultimately fell through, the Davis trade still makes the offseason an overall positive for them.
This trade had been a long time coming as Davis initially requested a trade from the Pelicans before the 2019 NBA trade deadline with the Lakers being his preferred destination. The two sides discussed a trade, but nothing came to fruition and there were some hard feelings coming out of it on both ends.
That didn’t stop a deal from getting done once the 2018-19 NBA season ended and Davis’ agent Rich Paul played a large role in getting him to where he wanted to be. In reflecting on the deal with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin spoke on how Paul essentially made it so that the Lakers would present the best offer:
“Rich had done such an effective job of smoking out all of the competition for the Lakers that we were left with the sense that the best deal is going to very likely come from them. And if we can get X-Y-Z, we have to execute the deal,” Griffin recalls.
By telling teams that Davis wouldn’t re-sign with them following this season, it caused any other teams to lessen what they were willing to offer for Davis. The Lakers were willing to give up so much young talent because it is believed he will re-sign long-term so they truly presented the best case scenario.
Paul also noted the 2019 NBA Draft lottery played a big role in shaping things as well:
“[Davis] wanted to go to two places: New York or L.A,” Paul reflects. “After the draft [lottery], I was able to see where everything lies. The fact that [the Pelicans] were going to get the first pick caused me to understand that it softened the blow of losing Anthony Davis because the organization could still have some momentum.
“Now, where he would go was up to who was going to step up and give the best offer.”
In addition to the Pelicans landing the No. 1 pick, the Lakers also moved up to the No. 4 pick, giving them another asset to offer the Pelicans in the deal.
Ultimately, everything came together for the Lakers and Pelicans to get things done. The Lakers have a championship contender while the Pelicans have one of the most exciting and promising young teams in the league. This could wind up being a deal that benefits both sides equally.