The Lakers Agree a Deal to Acquire Anthony Davis

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

The saga is over! A short time ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the news that the Los Angeles Lakers have agreed a deal to acquire superstar Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.

Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks are reportedly included in the deal. One of those future first-round picks is this year’s #4 pick.

Whilst it may make Laker fans’ eyes water, the price paid to acquire Davis does not come as a surprise. The purple and gold look to have stayed firm on not including Kuzma in the deal, but a collection of future first-round picks are now New Orleans-bound.

From a salary perspective, the deal works. Lonzo Ball ($8.7 million), Brandon Ingram ($7.2 million), Josh Hart ($1.9 million), and the 2019 #4 pick (circa $7 million) all but cover Davis’ contract ($27 million). According to our brief calculations, the Lakers will be slightly off maintaining a mid-tier maximum salary slot for the upcoming free agency period.

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

However, Moritz Wagner ($2 million) and Isaac Bonga’s ($1.4 million) contracts can be shipped out to free up salary which can open up that maximum salary slot. This looks like the most likely scenario, which will certainly make free agency an interesting one as top talent will now be looking to link up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.

The deal does work for both parties. The Lakers have acquired arguably a top-5 player in the NBA as they look to win now, and the Pelicans have received a host of promising young players along with a wealth of draft picks, in an attempt to rebuild post-Anthony Davis.

Don’t relax just yet though, we’re just getting started. Let the free agency rumours commence!


UPDATE 16/06: Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report has provided some expert insight into the Lakers’ salary moving forward, along with an excellent podcast from Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation and Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports. The full details of the flexibility is unknown, but it appears that the timing of the deal being officially announced has a huge role to play.

Both teams will have to wait until July 6 to announce the trade, which means that the Lakers will pick on behalf of the Pelicans at Thursday’s NBA Draft. Anthony Davis does possess a 15% trade bonus of circa $4.1 million that will come off the Lakers’ books, if exercised.

Of course, Davis can waive his bonus to allow the purple and gold to acquire more talent alongside himself and LeBron James. If so, the Lakers will have an estimated $32.5 million in cap space moving forward.

Although, the above scenario does sit slightly short of the $32.7 million maximum that players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker, are expected to receive. As mentioned above, Wagner and Bonga can be moved to bump the salary available up, or the likes of Leonard, Irving, Butler, and Walker can accept a pay cut.

In addition, just to make things more puzzling, for the salary of this year’s #4 pick ($7.1 million) to be included in the trade, the Lakers will need to sign the player drafted, on July 1. From here, the deal would have to wait 30 days until it can be officially announced.

If the option is not taken to wait 30 days, the Lakers’ cap space drops to $27.7 million. Should Davis then choose to take his trade bonus, the space would shrink further to $23.6 million. Way off the maximum salary slot desired.

The 30 day wait would be the best situation, as it maintains available salary. Also, Davis can accept his trade bonus at that point without impacting the spending power of the Lakers. Leaving $32.5 million in available cap space, which opens up a path to sign a third star to the roster.

The question is now, do the Lakers star chase or do they use the salary to build a deep roster?


By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

As Ingram Suffers Injury, Opportunities Emerge for Others

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The Lakers announced yesterday that Brandon Ingram, who missed recent games against the Clippers and Nuggets, was to be shut down for the remainder of the season. Ingram received further testing which revealed a Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) in his arm.

DVT is a condition to take very seriously as it is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein. It is most common in the legs but can occur in the upper body too.

Ingram has been the shining light in a torrid period of the season since the All-Star break, which has seen the Lakers fall completely out of the playoff race. The 6-foot-9 forward has been red hot, averaging 27.8 points per game in that time, through 6 games.

With Ingram being ruled out for the season, and Lonzo Ball most likely following the same route, this gives opportunities to the likes of Moe Wagner to shine along with two-way players, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams. Wagner will most likely receive hefty minutes down the stretch, as the Lakers look to kick start his development.

The German rookie has seen limited opportunities this season, appearing in 27 games. In them games he has started just 1 game. This was last time out against the Boston Celtics, where Wagner impressively dropped 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, on 7-13 shooting.

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With this season crashing and burning in front of us, fans have started peering over to the 2019 Draft Lottery, in the hopes that the Lakers poor form can at least reward them with a top-10 pick.

By Kwadwo ‘Kojo’ Larson (@kwadwo_l)

Brandon Ingram, Future All-Star?

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If there is a positive to spring from the Lakers’ post-All-Star performances, it is Brandon Ingram’s progress. The 21-year-old has stepped up many aspects of his game since the New Year, averaging 19.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists throughout January, and 21.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists through February.

On January 29th, Ingram recorded a monster 36-point game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He then broke the 30-point barrier again on February 25th and March 1st, with 32-points against the Memphis Grizzlies and 31-points against the Milwaukee Bucks. Between the February 21st and 25th, Ingram dropped three straight 25+ point games, placing him in elite company historically.

Ingram is in amongst an impressive stretch, playing the best basketball of his young career so far. The versatile wing has been a slow starter through his first three seasons in the NBA, usually improving as the season progresses. This campaign has been no different. Entering his third season, he was projected to take a huge step forward in being the number 2 option alongside the recently acquired LeBron James.

However, early on Ingram struggled to adapt to a James-led team, seeing less of the ball. A four-game suspension for his involvement in the Rajon Rondo-Chris Paul fracas didn’t help matters either. When LeBron James fell to injury for 17 games, Ingram and co were given free reigns to the Lakers’ offense. Ever since, and even upon James’ return, Ingram has elevated his game.

He looks much more comfortable on the offensive end, he seems to not be rushing his shot anymore as his form appears more natural. On the season, Ingram has a 49.3% completion rate with shots 5-9 ft from the hoop. With a 57.7% rate from fadeaway jump shots. He is also utilising his length when crashing the boards. In the first three months of the season he was averaging circa 4 rebounds, this has bumped up to 5.9 throughout January/February.

When driving to the rim and attempting fadeaway jumpers, Ingram has been attracting more fouls. This has been at a consistent rate since the end of November. This being said, he is a poor career shooter from the line but has improved as of late, converting 75% in February. Developing the ability to get to the free-throw line and converting (the important part), will be huge for Ingram’s game moving forward.

On the defensive end, Ingram shows heart, he always has done since entering the professional ranks. His long, wiry wing-span makes it difficult for the opposition. Yes, he has difficulties coming off the pick-and-roll, however if he is kept to the wings (which he should be, are you listening Luke Walton?), he has more than enough potential to be a solid two-way player in this league for a long time to come.

Furthermore, Ingram is not one to point fingers, he comes across as being very humble. An extremely important trait to possess. Even having posted huge stat-lines lately, after the recent loss to the Memphis Grizzlies he downplayed his performance, emphasising the importance of winning as a team.

“I don’t think my game matters at all if it’s not a win.”

“Just put it away. Put it away. We have another game on Wednesday. That’s the good thing about NBA basketball: We always have a chance to go out and redeem ourselves the next night (if) we just come in with another sense of urgency on the offensive and defensive end and be better.”

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Rounding up, there has been a fair amount of criticism surrounding Brandon Ingram this season. From his productivity in the team alongside LeBron James, to being included in pretty much every trade rumour. Even though his performances have not necessarily resulted in Laker victories, he has improved dramatically in multiple facets of the game.

Let’s remember that Ingram is still only 21-years of age. The Lakers have already moved on two young assets due to impatience, in Julius Randle and
D’Angelo Russell, of whom are balling out with their respective teams, with the latter having become an All-Star this season.

Would Randle and Russell have had such success in Los Angeles? It’s difficult to say. Will the Lakers provide an environment for Ingram to flourish long-term? We’ll have to wait and see with that one too. One thing is for sure, Brandon Ingram is a huge talent that will continue to get better and better. If the Lakers continue his development, the sky is the limit.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)