The first blockbuster move of the NBA offseason is nearing completion, and frankly it’s no big surprise.
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The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to acquire superstar forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks, including the fourth selection in the 2019 draft, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday night , citing league sources.
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The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver confirmed that the Lakers had agreed to acquire Davis.
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The move shifts the tectonic plates of the Western Conference, vaulting the Lakers back into competitive standing and stocking the Pelicans with a slew of young players while freeing up salary cap space to jump-start a rebuild. New Orleans is widely expected to select Duke star Zion Williamson with the top pick of Thursday’s draft.
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Los Angeles also has $30 million worth of salary cap space to add another star once the free agent signing period officially begins June 30. League analysts have reported Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker is a main target
The Lakers pursued a similar deal at the trade deadline. Los Angeles at the time was struggling to keep up in the playoff race, and as word spread that then-president of basketball operations Magic Johnson offered up nearly every Lakers player in negotiations, the team faded
Johnson, who abruptly resigned in April , celebrated the trade on Twitter on Saturday night. The team, he wrote, was «back in a championship hunt!»
«Congratulations to the entire organization,» Johnson wrote. «I know LeBron James has a big smile on his face. I’m loving this!!»
Great job by Owner Jeanie Buss bringing Anthony Davis to the Lakers! Laker Nation, the Lakers are back in a championship hunt! Congratulations to the entire organization. I know LeBron James has a big smile on his face. I’m loving this!!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 15, 2019 Laker Nation, you wanted the great Jeanie Buss to step up and bring a championship team back to LA and she’s doing just that!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 15, 2019 Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, had made clear that Davis, 26, had no intention of playing out the final two years of his five-year, $127 million contract with New Orleans, forcing the team to trade him in the offseason or risk major beef with one of the NBA’s biggest stars
It still created a flap during the season. The Pelicans pleaded for the NBA to enforce its tampering rules to keep Paul from negotiating with other teams for Davis’s services. It removed Davis from some promotional videos, and Coach Alvin Gentry left Davis on the bench in the fourth quarter during close games
In seven years with the Pelicans after one season in college at Kentucky, Davis averaged 23.7 points per game, with 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 assists. In every season but his first, he averaged a double-double, and he has led the league in blocked shots per game three times
James signed with the Lakers in the 2018 offseason while aware that the team would need a season or two to rebuild and possibly sign more star players to compete in the talent-heavy West. But even some of the most experienced NBA analysts did not predict how much Los Angeles would struggle in James’s first season
James struggled, too. While dealing with a lingering groin injury, he played the fewest minutes per game in his 16-year career. His field goal percentage was the lowest it has been since 2014-15. Even his free throw shooting struggled; he converted only 66.5 percent of his foul shots
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Jacob Bogage Jacob Bogage writes about sports for The Post, where he has worked since 2015. He previously covered the automotive and manufacturing industries for the Business section. Follow
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