The Los Angeles Lakers shocked just about everyone and moved all the way up into the top-five, landing the No. 4 overall pick in next month’s draft. In just as surprising a development, the New Orleans Pelicans jumped all the way up to the top spot, lining them up for Zion Williamson.
But before fans get carried away thinking about pairing Williamson with Anthony Davis in the front court for years to come, though, it would appear Davis hasn’t changed course despite the latest developments:
The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019
New Pelicans team president David Griffin has been steadfast in declaring their intentions of trying to keep Davis in New Orleans all the way up to the lottery, and as you would suspect, he says that stance has not changed after such an incredible shot to the arm to the franchise he’s been tasked with guiding forward:
Griffin won't talk about who he will select with the No. 1 pick, but he did say it should help with potentially recutting Anthony Davis:— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) May 15, 2019
"Elite talent likes to play with elite talent"
Following the lottery, Rob Pelinka made sure to keep all his options open for the various direction the Lakers might go in now with such a valuable asset at their disposal:
“We had scouting meetings with (Director of Scouting and Assistant GM) Jesse Buss and our scouts, and of course our focus was more around 11, because that’s where the huge probability was resting. But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvas the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise … I already talked to Jeanie Buss and she is just thrilled. I think it should really be exciting for our fans. It’s an unexpected event for the Lakers and we’re certainly really blessed.”
Given all their respective goals, though, this is just about the exact posturing you would expect to hear from Davis, Griffin and Pelinka (though on the latter, we still don’t know whether any of this is his call to make).
As promising a player as Williamson might be, the damage has probably done for Davis and thus he has to stick by his guns here with leaking his continued displeasure with the franchise, even given how much better off they are with Griffin at the helm and Williamson potentially on the roster.
Even if a Davis trade is inevitable, in order to give himself the most leverage in this situation, Griffin has to at least pretend to be operating from a position of strength.
Pelinka at least has to seem somewhat interested in the players he could draft at four, or else seem too desperate to acquire Davis and go through that entire debacle we saw at the trade deadline last season all over again.
This little bit of clarity is welcomed in and of itself, but the Lakers are inarguably in an exponentially better spot than they were heading into the lottery. Problem is: same goes for New Orleans. This is going to be a fascinating game of chicken to watch, for the second time in 2019, and this time with new decision makers.