The Los Angeles Lakers seemingly went into the offseason with one primary objective: Get Anthony Davis out of New Orleans. To their credit, they were able to pull it off and now have two MVP-caliber players on their team, but it’s starting to sound like their plan wasn’t all that well-thought-out.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Wednesday, NBA insider Ramona Shelburne reported that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka didn’t fully understand the cap ramifications of the Davis trade until after their initial talks with the Pelicans, forcing them to find new, more costly ways to open up a max slot in free agency:
“It’s all so unnecessary, too. Like, the way this trade was constructed, this should have been first and foremost on their minds as they were talking to the Pelicans in a way where they set themselves up. If this was really their plan — that they want to have a third star — this should have been central to the conversations with the Pelicans and my understanding is that it was not. They went all the way down the road and it’s been described to me as a, ‘The Lakers called back,’ after everything had been discussed about this — the timing.”
While it’s possible that the Lakers didn’t feel the need to iron out these details because they never intended on pursuing a max-level free agent this summer, there’s no reason to believe that’s the case. Even if that were true, it’s Pelinka’s job to maximize the amount of spending power the Lakers will have this summer. Considering the topic of Davis’ trade kicker reportedly never came up during negotiations either, one could argue he hasn’t done the best job of doing that.
That’s not say Pelinka can’t get himself out of the hole he’s apparently dug himself into, but it will likely cost the Lakers everyone on their roster except for James, Davis and Kyle Kuzma. Combine that with everything else they gave up in the trade for Davis, and it closely resembles the trade package the Lakers offered Dell Demps at the trade deadline.
Will it ultimately pay off for them? Possibly, but it seems like they have a lot of learning to do before they get there.