Anthony Davis trade brings a new look to Lakers and NBA free agency

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

"Today, the basketball gods smiled upon the Nets."

In the summer of 2013, Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets' billionaire owner, took a victory lap in the news release announcing his team's trade for a pair of future Hall of Famers. The cost to get Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn was extreme -- a grab bag of players and three first-round picks plus a fourth coming via a swap of picks.

Hindsight has shown us those weren't the basketball gods smiling that day as much as it was them laughing. The Nets' trade was a franchise-crippling disaster resulting in zero trips to the conference finals and zero 50-win seasons. Pierce left after one season. Garnett barely made an impact and was soon out of the NBA.

Brooklyn was left with a miserable rebuild ahead of them, their draft picks all in the Boston Celtics' pockets.

The lesson in all of this is clear -- there are no shortcuts to building an NBA champion.

The basketball gods smiled Saturday upon the Los Angeles Lakers, the team agreeing to a deal for Anthony Davis that will shape the future of the franchise. The cost was even steeper than the one paid by Brooklyn -- two former No. 2 overall draft picks in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, another former first-rounder in Josh Hart and, essentially, control of the Lakers' first-round picks for almost the entirety of the next six years.


Like the Nets, who were trying to find footing in a new market by making a big splash, the Lakers essentially had to make this kind of deal. It was foolish to think the Lakers could continue to try to simultaneously build around two separate cores at once with a ready-made winner in LeBron James in one hand and a group of players in their very early 20s in the other.

It was also foolish to think the Lakers, who have struggled to attract free agents outside of James, would be able to change that this summer after their dysfunctions were made public in a series of exposes and in a very bizarre resignation speech by Magic Johnson.

A trade was the only route, and even though the cost was high, the Lakers are back where they want to be, a few shrewd moves away from serious contention in a suddenly brand new NBA.

The NBA is about to enter one of its most transforming offseasons in recent memory, with a new NBA champion (Toronto), superstars potentially on the move (Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and so on), and injuries reshaping the landscape of the Western Conference.


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