LeBron James finally has his second superstar.
Adrian Wojnawrowski of ESPN is reporting that the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to a trade that would send forward/center Anthony Davis to the Lake Show in exchange for point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Brandon Ingram, guard Josh Hart, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Pelicans.
The Lakers were able to keep forward Kyle Kuzma out of the trade, which cannot be finalized until July 6.
The trade is sure to shift the NBA landscape, and the future of both franchises for many years to come.
New Orleans Pelicans president of basketball operations David Griffin, a former general manager of LeBron James in Cleveland, will receive a haul of players, including two former top-five draft picks in Ball and Ingram, and the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. He will then pair those young players with presumptive first overall pick Zion Williamson of Duke University.
Davis requested a trade back in January, and the Lakers tried to acquire the All-Star forward at the February trade deadline. However, after details of the talks were leaked to the media, the deal fell apart and it had a ripple effect with both teams in the second half of the season.
The Pelicans have agreed to a deal to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks – including the No. 4 overall in 2019 Draft, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2019
The Lakers' young core never seemed to be the same after being included in the very public trade talks, and reports of distrust inside the locker room circled the conclusion of the season.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans benched Davis immediately and lowered his minutes for the second half of the season as they fell in the standings. Also, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps lost his job after the failed negotiations.
With the injuries to both Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn left ACL) in the 2019 NBA Finals, the Western Conference is suddenly wide-open, and the Lakers with Davis are now letting the basketball world know it's theirs for the taking.
Together, James and Davis will form one of the most formidable duos in NBA history. Despite Davis being a free agent at the end of the season, reports indicate that the man known as "The Brow," plans to sign a longterm contract to stay in Los Angeles.
As the Lakers appear to be the immediate winners of the trade, the Pelicans will surely be the longterm beneficiaries of one of the more substantial trades in NBA history.
In addition to building a young nucleus of Williamson, Ingram, Ball and Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans will have the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's draft to either trade for a veteran player, or keep.
They also will receive a protected first in 2021, and an unprotected first in 2024. The Pelicans will also have the right to swap firsts in 2023 and 2025, which could be after LeBron retires.
The Lakers might not be finished making major moves as well. As of today, the Lakers will have $27.8 million in cap space, and if the two teams wait until July 30, to complete the trade, then Los Angeles will have $32.5 million to lure a third superstar.
Reports already have the Lakers sights set on Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker who is set to become a free agent, and James' former running mate in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving. Free agent forward Jimmy Butler could also be in the running to join the Lakers.
Even if that third star doesn't arrive in L.A. in time for the start of the 2019-2020 season, the Lakers will have plenty of time (and room) to add veteran players around LeBron and Davis, the way the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers did when they had James on the roster.
Saturday's blockbuster trade doesn't guarantee the Lakers a championship, but it certainly changes the perception of a franchise that has been riddled with chaos and turmoil in recent years.