While the initial discussions were intense, a combination of front office changes and 2019 NBA Draft Lottery luck completely changed the approach for both teams.
As the Lakers are looking to win now with Davis and LeBron James, the Pelicans have an extremely talented young core and also have the assets for a quick rebuilding process.
With 2019 NBA preseason officially underway now, general manager Rob Pelinka reflected on the ‘razor-thin’ Davis trade, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“Major NBA trades live on the edge of a dime,” Pelinka says. “I think maybe the everyday fan doesn’t know how the fulcrum is so razor-thin, and something’s close to being done and then it’s far from being done and then you think you have it done and you start over.
“The day that it was completed, I remember there were a number of hurdles that seemed insurmountable that came up where we thought this just is never going to happen.”
Pelinka also explained how James’ four-year commitment to the Lakers was a factor in their efforts to trade for Davis:
“When a player of LeBron’s stature puts his trust in the organization,” Pelinka says, “I think there’s an implicit bilateral trust going back, saying: ‘We’re going to do everything we can to put you in a position to win more championships, because that’s what you’re about.’”
Following a wasted Year 1 due to roster construction and injuries, it was important for the Lakers to maximize James’ window. Despite all of the drama, Pelinka showed he is more than capable of building a championship contender.
While the Lakers had an opportunity to form a Big 3 with Kawhi Leonard, Pelinka did a solid job of surrounding James and Davis with 3-and-D players and rim protectors under the circumstances. And more importantly, the Lakers were able to maintain flexibility for 2021 NBA free agency.
As Pelinka has given the Lakers a legitimate chance to win the 2020 NBA Finals, it is on head coach Frank Vogel and the players to deliver now. With James and Davis already showing great chemistry, there is optimism in Los Angeles.