Who Won The Trade...Pelicans or Lakers?

On its face, the blockbuster Anthony Davis-to-the-Lakers trade that went down over the weekend appears to be a good deal for both teams.

We probably won't know the true winner of this trade for 3-5 years, but for now it looks like both organizations are moving forward with optimism.

The Lakers are in a win-now mode and added one of the best players in the NBA to a 34-year-old LeBron James, whose window on winning more NBA titles is closing.

After the trade, the Lakers were immediately installed as 3/1 favorites to win the NBA title in 2020, via Caesars. LaVar Ball, meantime, "guaranteed" the Lakers would "never win another championship".

The Warriors dynasty appears to be over and they are not among the top five favorites after both Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (ACL) suffered season-ending injuries during the NBA Finals. Both players are also free agents, although Thompson is expected to re-sign in Golden State.

That leaves room atop the Western Conference for LeBron, AD and the rest of the Lakers to supplant Golden State. Still, Houston, Denver, Portland, San Antonio and the rest of the Western powers will have something to say about that. And don't forget about the L.A. Clippers, especially if Kawhi Leonard signs there in free agency.

Kentucky coach John Calipari, who coached Davis in college, says the big man is hungry to win an NBA title and that's what motivated him to get out of New Orleans and join the Lakers.

"He's a generational player," Calipari said Monday on ESPN's "Get Up." "He wants to win."

He added: "He wants to win a championship. That's all the great ones in the NBA. He's at that stage. The players in that league only have a small window, their window to do something special. And it's not just about money. Yeah, they all want to be paid...but winning a championship is how they're validated within their grouping. I think with him it's all it came down with."

The Lakers will feature James, Davis and Kyle Kuzma, but they also surrendered Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram plus three first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft, to the Pelicans.

They also only have about $23.7 million in cap space, via ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, so they don't have the ability to sign a big-time free agent like Leonard, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker. They could go after D'Angelo Russell if he parts ways with the Nets, but Russell will also be looking for big money.

The Lakers for sure need a play-making guard and some shooters alongside James, Davis Kuzma. And depth figures to be a major issue for them. A serious injury to one of their key players could derail their championship dreams.

But Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss deserve credit for striking while the iron was hot and making the trade even after it failed the first time earlier in the season (with Magic Johnson for the Lakers and Dell Demps for the Pelicans running the show). They also deserve credit for keeping Kuzma.

Pelicans executive VP David Griffin also deserves credit for making the best of a tough situation and adding quality young players like Ball, Hart and Ingram plus the three draft picks to build around Zion Williamson, who now becomes the face of the Pelicans in the post-AD Era.

Ball and Ingram ended last year dealing with injuries but could benefit from a fresh situation where they know they can grow and where they know the best player on the team doesn't want them traded.

New Orleans could now feature a trio of former Duke stars in its starting lineup with Williamson, Ingram and Jahlil Okafor.

They also will add a nice piece in Thursday's Draft, with ESPN projecting they will take Texas Tech wing Jarrett Culver, who has drawn comparisons to a young Paul George.

For now, it looks like both franchises did well in this trade. If LeBron and the Lakers go on to win an NBA title or two in the coming years, they'll certainly be the big winners.


Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who runs ZAGSBLOG.com and contributes to The New York Times. Follow Adam on Twitter.

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