The Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to the blockbuster trade on Saturday evening. Once the deal is made official (expected for that to happen on either July 6th or 30th), Anthony Davis will be a Laker while Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, Pelicans. Also, don’t forget that David Griffin will have three future Laker first-round picks (including the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft) at his disposal, a pick swap and a pick deferment.
If this deal doesn’t fall apart, what grade would assign this trade and why?
Jason Albert: B
I’d say that the Pelicans got two decent young players who have some potential but don’t overlook the injury histories of Ball and Ingram. The real saving grace of this trade is the picks, and more importantly, the protection on said picks. By the time the Pellies cash them all in, LeBron James Jr. will probably be in the league and the Lakers will be in a full blown rebuild. Plus, it’s always fun to have two top 5 picks in the draft.
Kevin Barrios: A/Incomplete
Griffin pretended to be so infatuated with Kyle Kuzma — playing off of Jeannie Buss’ rumored real infatuation — that he now controls the fate of Laker drafts over the next 5-7 years, including the 4th overall pick this year. It’s the Herschel Walker meets the Nets/Celtics/meets the Ricky Williams trade in terms of draft compensation. He essentially pulled a Max Fischer and stuck his gum on the wall as he exited the elevator
Or perhaps Trajan Langdon was his JB Smoove coaching Griffin in how to, “get in that ass and let them know you were there” for he was there are snickers wrappers are on the ground and, “David was here is painted somewhere in Rob Pelinka’s small intestine.”
As far as players go, I do like Lonzo Ball a lot, but Griff fell short of his goal (thus far) of obtaining an All-Star player. Lonzo isn’t that yet, and he may never be. However, he is an extremely gifted passer and a highly regarded perimeter defender that should give opposing backcourts LeBron’s hairline flanking Jrue Holiday with an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course to a bucket.
Brandon Ingram also has potential to be an All-Star snub candidate if he finds a consistent jumper and his health issues are not long term problems, but having only a year for the Pelicans’ brain trust to decide whether he’s worth a relatively large contract and medical risk is a bit troubling.
Josh Hart is a nice throw in that also aids the perimeter defense, and if his shot returns to form, could fill the 6th man role. Also, he seems like he’s a non-profit owning Trustafarian transplant from Brooklyn in his excitement to be here — so much so that I can already read his trope-filled break-up letter with the city that those people always write when he eventually moves on.
The players in this deal are nice, but they aren’t Tatum/Smart, or SGA/Shamet, and this is why I think that it’s hard to grade this deal as it stands because I’m positive that the 4th pick is in trade plans and maybe so is Ingram. So much of the wealth of the haul is tied into the draft and what can be flipped that I find it hard to definitively grade it as of yet. I will say the armory is full and I have a ton of faith in Griffin, Langdon and Swin Cash so I expect this deal to be a home run — but right now we are still waiting to be pitched to.
Chris Connor: B
The Pelicans were patient, got it done before the draft, and completed the most creative draft pick haul the NBA has seen since the KG and Paul Pierce to BRK trade. I’m also higher on what the Lakers had to offer than most.
The tempo Alvin wants to play should suit Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart just fine. Getting away from the circus/incompetence that is the current Lakers and into a rebuilt Pelicans hierarchy should equate to a perfect fresh start. Playing in New Orleans versus Los Angeles will also provide it’s benefits. You can go from shit to sugar real quick.
The reason I didn’t give the trade an A is because of the spacing concerns a projected lineup may manifest going forward. Coupled with the shooting concerns is the uncertainty of what the 4th pick will add as we’ll discuss this in our next roundtable. In the end, though, New Orleans acquired a lot for a team that was said to not have leverage. They’ll be exciting, young and seemingly on their way to not just being competitive three years from now, but as soon as October.
Michael Delayo: A-
It will be a while until we come to know just how valuable some of the future picks and swaps will be, but the wide timeline bodes well for Griffin’s goal of building a sustainable run of success both now and later.
When the Lakers selected Ingram and Ball near the top of their respective drafts, they were hoping for a franchise cornerstone, a star whom they could build their next decade of success around. Neither player was able to live up to that billing in purple and gold, but they will not have to in New Orleans. Griffin and company surely hope that the pair (and, to a lesser extent, Hart) will elevate their games to another level, but with Zion Williamson as the likely prize of this week’s draft, they do not need to be as transcendent. They are both 21 years old (Hart, 24) and bring legitimate and unique strengths to the table. They have time and room to grow into bigger roles, and in a perfect world, stars. In a return for a superstar, that is really all you can ask for.
Jamile Dunn: B+
Right now I would give David Griffin a B+ for his work on the Anthony Davis trade. While the trade did return some high level prospects, none of them are of the can’t miss variety. They all have significant holes in their games. However, the draft compensation is what could make this trade one of the best of all time.
Of course, we have to wait and see how everything plays out before anointing it as Boston-robs-Nets 2.0, but this trade has the potential to set the Pelicans up for a long, long...long time to come. David Griffin is essentially betting on continued dysfunction in Laker land and LeBron James aging soon. Rob Pelinka likely retained his position with the Lakers with the sole mandate of bringing another star to Los Angles. Now with that promised superstar in tow, Pelinka has solidified his position as head of Lakers basketball operations and Griffin may be betting Pelinka fails in building a championship contender via free agency. After all, New Orleans has robbed the Lakers of any chance of building through the draft as they essentially control the Laker picks for the next 5-7 years.
Even with the addition of LeBron and a ton of flexibility last off-season, the Lakers failed to put a coherent roster on the floor. Now they’ll have even less flexibility, less quality players, and zero draft capital to trade or add cheap talent. No trade can be judged until it fully plays out, but the this trade could very well turn into one for the history books, especially if Lebron James decline comes quickly or injuries strike L.A. again.
Charlie Gonzalez: B+
I would give this deal a B+. It’s good, not great, but has the potential to become excellent. The players coming back aren’t all-star caliber currently so that’s disappointing, but the wheeling and dealing is likely not done. This trade could be followed by a subsequent deal that morphs these pieces into a more impactful or attractive long term fit soon enough.
David Grubb: A-
Right now, I’d have to give it an A- considering the health questions for Ingram and Ball and not knowing what moves are to follow. Other than that, I think it was an unqualified success. The Pelicans got so much flexibility for the future, which allows them to have patience in building a team around Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday. Even if Ball, Ingram, and Hart don’t become long-term contributors, to me the Pelicans won the deal. If Ball or Ingram become the players that they were expected to be, this is an A+.
Zachary Junda: B+
I’m giving the trade a B+ and it could turn into an A depending on how Ingram, Ball and Hart pan out. Fit and health are my two hesitations with Ingram. Through two years Lonzo’s more known for his name than his game and he too has had some health issues. If they both live up to their No. 2 overall pick billings, however, it will look like an even better deal. The trade though, is buoyed by the picks New Orleans received from Los Angeles. For years New Orleans has never had draft capital and flexibility. Now they have assets and they have them in excess.
Oleh Kosel: A
While Jayson Tatum and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were individually valued higher than any single piece of the Lakers young core, this Davis trade is still considered an impressive haul for one player — especially because rumors indicate other teams like the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets were not willing to package away their top assets.
Obviously, Ingram and Ball are no lock to become All-Stars and it’s conceivable none of the picks bring another star to New Orleans, but Griffin took the best offer out there and was still able to squeeze additional value out of it despite Rob Pelinka not being in direct competition with another team. Sure, we’ll grade this trade in hindsight some day, but this type of negotiating where only one team made an offer Griffin liked hearing — which at least opened the door to a potential windfall — deserves an A every time.
Travis Tate: A
This trade is so hard to distill into a simple grade, but for one main reason, I’ll give David Griffin an A. That reason: everybody in the world knew Anthony Davis wanted out, and yet he still got six pieces in return for a guy who wanted to play in Los Angeles.
The injuries to the Warriors completely changed the outlook of the West next season and the Lakers — now Vegas favorites to WIN THE TITLE — felt they had to make the move, regardless of the price paid in future picks. Griff had to strike as soon as he found out the Celtics were unwilling to include Jayson Tatum, but there were other offers floated, rumored, and whispered that seemed interesting from the Clippers and Knicks, among other teams.
Another reason this trade might be super valuable: Brandon Ingram. Of all the young pieces offered by the NBA suitors, he may have the greatest upside — long-limbed scoring wings are must-haves in this league. Ingram drew plenty of KD comparisons upon his arrival to the league - and that’s way too optimistic - but he also won’t need to carry the load of KD by joining Jrue, Zion, Ball and draft picks coming from now until TWO more presidential elections.
David Fisher: A
The deal is more than just what Griffin got out of the Lakers. It is what he convinced the Lakers to give up in relation to the market that existed. Boston may have been willing to discuss Jayson Tatum, but not Tatum and the Memphis pick according to The Lowe Post posted later in the afternoon on Monday. The Knicks were not really players in the deal and had cold feet due to the Kevin Durant injury.
In the context of the other reported offers, or actually the lack of offers, this haul is incredible. Brandon Ingram is running on an accelerate time line where you really need to make a decision on him by this coming trade deadline or risk him walking for nothing. Lonzo Ball forgot how to shoot free throws after he left UCLA. Josh Hart is a solid role player but not inspiring. David Griffin is already shopping the fourth pick in a three player draft. It’s the future draft compensation that’s excited, but not because I expect the Pelicans to use all of it to actually draft players. Future picks are the currency of acquiring stars, and the Pelicans now have the ammunition to trade some of their draft capital and not be stuck in a salary cap hell without young players of their own developing. If Boston had put their best offer on the table this grade would be lower, but circumstances like that do matter in context.