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After all that, Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers anyway

A five-month drama played out just to end how we thought it would.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are really going to play on the same team in the 2019-20 season. It’s really happening. After five months of nonstop negotiating and drama through the media, the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to trade Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and a bevy of picks for Davis, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

New Orleans is getting quite a draft haul from the Lakers, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN, including three first-round picks:

  • 2019 first-rounder (No. 4 overall)
  • 2021 first-rounder (top-8 protected, unprotected in 2022)
  • 2023 unprotected pick swap
  • 2024 first-rounder (unprotected)
  • 2025 unprotected pick swap

Ironically, the drama that started with Davis wanting to play in Los Angeles ends with the solution that felt inevitable all along. The Pelicans held out on a mid-season trade in hopes for a stronger offer — possibly from the Boston Celtics — over the summer, but ended up with a very similar deal to what they were offered in February. Per the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Celtics refused to include Jayson Tatum in a deal. Any leverage the Pels had was lost because Davis, who has just one year left on his contract, had the ultimate say in where he would stay long-term.

Had this deal been accepted months ago, loads of drama could’ve been avoided. But that’s not how the NBA works. Instead, the basketball world watched on as Pelicans GM Dell Demps was fired after a Davis trade wasn’t made, LeBron James became the center of attention for publicly voicing his desire to play with AD, and Davis joined the circus himself sporting a “That’s All Folks” t-shirt in his last game with New Orleans. Don’t forget the mess that was the Pels’ compromise to play Davis limited minutes to appease both him and the league, and the team scrubbing Davis from their intro videos. This was all messy.

In the end, both sides were given what they wanted. Davis gets to team up with LeBron James in Los Angeles and the Pelicans get a fleet of prospects to quickly rebuild with around the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson and All-Star caliber guard Jrue Holiday. But it took a lot of energy, embarrassment and sacrifices to get to this point.