We wrote extensively about the Anthony Davis trade last night but the more we hear about the franchise altering deal, the more we learn about the unprecedented suite of draft assets that will go from the Lakers to the Pelicans.
A clarification to the report that we initially covered in our AD story provides extra insight into New Orleans’ haul and, quite frankly, makes this an even more appealing deal for the rebuilding franchise.
As Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times reports, the trade comes with reverse protection on that 2021 first-rounder, there’s an additional sweetener attached to the 2024 pick and there’s no outright 2025 pick swap.
Here’s a complete list of what the Pels will acquire:
- 2019 1st Rd. (No. 4)
- 2021 1st (if top-8, otherwise unprotected in 2022)
- The right to swap 1sts in 2023
- Unprotected 1st in 2024, with right to defer to 2025
Given the complexities involved, it’s easy to see how some of these concepts were miscommunciated on the day of the deal. Let’s hammer down on some more details about these picks.
The 2019 1st Rounder (No. 4 Overall)
Draft experts have operated under the assumption that the Lakers would be making this pick, as such Darius Garland was the expected pick here. Now that this pick belongs to the Pels (or any number teams showing significant interest in it) all bets are off. We wrote about how this trade shakes up this week’s NBA draft.
The 2021 1st Rounder (Reverse Protected)
When we see protections on picks, it’s usually to protect the seller. This reverse protection mechanic protects the buyer. The only way New Orleans will receive this pick is if the Lakers struggle in 2020-21 and this pick ends up in the top eight. You can imagine that the mood in Los Angeles will be quite sour if their second season of the AD-LeBron James pairing ends in a high lottery pick.
More likely, this pick will become an unprotected 1st in 2022 and that’s more appealing than it sounds. It’s a very distinct reality that the 2022 NBA Draft would be the first draft without the One-and-Done Rule. That means teams drafting will have two batches of classes to pick from, the 2022 high school seniors and the 2022 NCAA freshmen.
Even if all goes well for 37-year-old James and the Lakers, a 20th overall pick would be the equivalent to a 10th overall pick in a typical draft class.
The 2023 Swap Rights
By now, four years beyond the date of the trade, it’s difficult to project what the NBA power landscape will look like. Will a 38-year-old James and 30-year-old Davis be terrorizing the Western Conference? It’s not hard to imagine. That said, this is the NBA and things can change quickly. This time four years ago, Finals MVP Andre Iguodala had just led the Warriors to the first title of their dynasty.
The 2024 1st Rounder (Unprotected)
The Pelicans will have the option to take this pick or defer it until 2025. These will be James Age 39 and Age 40 seasons, if you haven’t been doing the math at home.
Yes, if there’s any human on the planet capable of dominating a professional spot into their 40s, it’s presumably none other than James but that’s just such a daunting concept.
While any natural regression shown by an aging James may be cancelled out by a mid-to-late prime Davis and 28-year-old Kyle Kuzma, David Griffin and the Pelicans have to be immensely pleased with the constant stream of perennial draft gifts they’ll inherit from this franchise.
The pressure, now, is on the Lakers to win and win consistently, lest this turn into the second coming of Brooklyn’s shortsighted decision to surrender their draft assets to Boston in exchange for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Suffice it to say, even if this gets ugly toward the back half of the deal, there’s no denying that a 26-year-old Davis is exponentially more valuable than the 37-year-old Garnett and 35-year-old Pierce that Brooklyn gambled for.