Anthony Davis trade: LeBron James wins again

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) after an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 31, 2019. The Lakers won 130-102. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
It's no secret anymore, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on the same side. (AP)

Write it in stone: The center of the NBA will rest in Southern California next spring after the Los Angeles Lakers did what they do best.

Well, drama is what they do best, but in acquiring Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, they've poached the best two available players in the last 11 months to thrust themselves into the championship conversation. While the rest of the NBA believed the era of clustering stars was over – the movement started by LeBron James – it has another thing coming.

LeBron wins again, no matter what the rest of the league is doing. Before Kevin Durant's Achilles injury and Klay Thompson's ACL tear ended things in the Bay Area as we know it, James was always lurking, and like it or not, he'll always be linked to Rich Paul doing a bidding that seems to serve his wishes for winning and control.

Paul, who represents both LeBron and Davis, was audacious in his wants to get Davis to Los Angeles when everyone else had his bags packed for Boston. But Danny Ainge's inability to handle Kyrie Irving and a group of young players wanting more has resulted in Irving likely headed out, thus preventing Ainge from putting forth his best offer.

And the Lakers pounced.

And Rich Paul won.

Being the most irresistible force in the NBA has its benefits and playing in the league's marquee market will always attract stars, even when relevance has obscured the Lakers for the longest period in modern history.

Not even ownership dysfunction, a legend airing out dirty laundry and a botched coaching search could stop what we all saw coming, or at least the opportunity of it: the top of the West had an opening as much of the balance shifted East.

Not even the reported indecision of Jeanie Buss or the apparent influence of the Rambis duo could stop the tidal wave headed toward Staples Center.

It means Frank Vogel is on the clock and there will be very little room for error. It means James' remaining prime will be maximized as he aligns himself with a player better known for his "that's all folks" T-shirt and a mess of an exit from New Orleans than his outstanding play.

Not since Charles Barkley being stuck in Philadelphia, rarely getting out of the first round, has there been a generational player go so long without playing in a meaningful playoff game. Davis is worth all the fuss and will prove to be as impactful as James or Durant. Being part of this ugly drama has obscured that.

We'll be reminded very quickly of James' greatness, as one can imagine how amused he was of the conversation surrounding the game's best player as if he fell off or retired.

And despite the mess, it must be said Davis was surrounded by instability and mismanagement in New Orleans. It was smart of him to want out and what smarter play is there than going to the franchise that handles stardom, attention and yes, drama, better than the rest?

This trade does jump start the rebuild for the Pelicans, who can draft Zion Williamson without the specter of more uncertainty while also giving him a promising point guard in Lonzo Ball and a developing wing in Brandon Ingram, just to start.

The stakes are also raised for the other remaining franchises that had dreams of unseating Golden State before the past week changed the path of the NBA forever.

Durant's signing with the Warriors three years ago challenged everyone to either load up or sit down. His unfortunate injury has created a similar sentiment, and if his arrival in Golden State temporarily closed James' title window, his left-to-right dribble move that went awry opened it right back up.

How glorious would it have been to see these two franchises do battle next spring, a series we may never see at its zenith.

But the Lakers and LeBron have put everybody on notice with one big swing – and there's likely many more to come.

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