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After months of intrigue, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired star forward Anthony Davis and appear to be back in the championship mix.
On Saturday afternoon a blockbuster trade was agreed to, sending Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in the June 20 draft, league sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports.
Davis’ No. 1 preference was always to be traded to the Lakers to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.
And although it has been a rocky five-month journey since Davis went public with his trade request, the All-Star forward is getting what he desired.
David Griffin, the newly appointed president of basketball operations for the Pelicans, acquired young assets who will fit with Zion Williamson, whom the franchise is expected to select with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday.
It’s a win-win for both parties, although the deal will not be finalized until July 1.
Griffin and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka were seen having a lengthy, private conversation at the Chicago draft combine last month.
Davis is expected to sign a long-term extension with the Lakers and be the franchise’s anchor after James, league sources said.
Davis’ reputation with the New Orleans community never recovered when the franchise was forced to scale back his minutes after the All-Star break because a trade couldn’t be consummated.
It was important for Griffin to get a deal done before the draft to transition Williamson, the expected top selection, into a healthy environment free of discontent, sources said.
The Boston Celtics entertained pursuing Davis, but with agent Rich Paul recently stating that it would be a one-year rental if they acquired him, the Celtics were reluctant to include Jayson Tatum in any trade scenarios.
For the Lakers, they were able to hold on to coveted young forward Kyle Kuzma and now are positioned to be contenders.
With James and Davis as the cornerstones of the franchise, the Lakers still have room to add one more star in free agency.
Charlotte guard Kemba Walker and Philadelphia forward Jimmy Butler are top priorities, sources said.
Golden State might be forced to punt its championship aspirations for next season with pending free agents Kevin Durant (Achilles rupture) and Klay Thompson (ACL tear) expected to be lost for much or all of next season.
The Lakers were a laughingstock for much of the 2018-19 campaign, but after landing Davis and the possibility of adding more talent in the near future, the organization appears to be back.
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