Questions, wild cards and bottom lines after the enormous AD trade

When Kyrie Irving declared a week before the trade deadline that he didn’t “owe anybody s—,” he inadvertently provided the Los Angeles Lakers leverage in their trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans surrounding Anthony Davis.

Due to an arcane cap rule, the Boston Celtics, who had been hoarding the mother lode for Davis for years, could not trade for him until after July 1. The Pelicans expected Boston’s godfather offer, presumably built around Jayson Tatum, would be there July 1. The May draft lottery also could create a new suitor if the No. 1 pick landed right. Waiting was smart.

But if Irving was leaning toward bolting Boston, the Lakers could plausibly argue Boston’s mega-offer would vanish with him; the Celtics could not risk losing Irving, Tatum, other prime assets and then Davis, in the event Davis also walked in free agency in the summer of 2020. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka could tell Dell Demps, then the Pelicans general manager: Take our offer today, because it might not be as good in July if Boston is in cheap jerseys nike

The Lakers, through multiple avenues, absolutely tried to use the leverage Irving had given them in precisely this way. The Pelicans ignored them. Incredibly, everything the Lakers postured about then has come to pass, and the Pelicans somehow still pocketed a better deal than the one Los Angeles dangled four-plus months ago.1

The Lakers’ reported deadline offer oscillated, but according to most reliable reports, it coalesced around L.A.’s entire young core — including Kyle Kuzma, still a Laker today — and two first-round picks, plus salary relief in the form of the Lakers absorbing Solomon nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

In Saturday’s reported deal, the Pelicans basically swapped out Kuzma and that cap relief in favor of extracting a third first-round pick and unprotected swap rights on the Lakers’ 2023 first-rounder. The final tally: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart; the No. 4 pick in this draft; the Lakers’ 2021 pick only if it falls within the top eight, otherwise converting into the Lakers’ unprotected 2022 first-round pick; swap rights on first-rounders in 2023; and the Lakers’ unprotected first-round pick in 2024, with New Orleans holding the option (at some agreed-upon date) to pass on that 2024 pick in favor of the Lakers’ unprotected 2025 selection. The protections protect the Pelicans, not the Lakers.

Events since February helped New Orleans in the aggregate. The bounty in draft assets is still a little surprising. They got damn near everything possible. The little extras that don’t seem important in the rush to completion — Wait, you want a pick swap in this Joe Johnson deal? Sure, whatever, can we just do this thing? — can come back to haunt you. There are things you can say no to without killing the deal.

New Orleans was smart to push the Lakers’ draft obligations almost as far out as possible under league rules. It is so easy to argue now that the Lakers’ draft assets will be worth little in 2023, 2024 and 2025. The Lakers bet everything on that. They are right that this isn’t the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics heist of 2013. The Nets opened the vault for over-the-hill veterans. The prime-aged stars who were supposed to carry those veterans proved woefully inadequate.