The New Orleans Pelicans agreed Saturday to trade Davis to the Lakers, according to people with knowledge of the deal. The Lakers will send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart and several draft picks to New Orleans to acquire Davis.
The Pelicans will get the No. 4 pick in this week’s draft, a top-eight protected pick in 2021 that becomes an unprotected first-rounder in 2022, an unprotected swap in 2023, an unprotected first-round pick in 2024 and an unprotected swap in 2025, making it the largest haul of picks sent out by the Lakers since they acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in 2012.
Davis is under contract through the 2020-21 season, although he holds a player option on the final year of his contract. He’s owed $27.1 million next season and $28.7 million in 2020-21 if he exercises his option.
The trade is not expected to be finalized until the new league year on July 6. The amount of salary cap space the Lakers have remaining will depend on how the trade is executed, but the Lakers could have enough cap space to sign another player to a maximum contract. Davis has a $4-million trade kicker in his contract that he can waive.
“Rob and I worked hard in February to try to make it happen,” said Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ former president of basketball operations. “Now that it’s happened here in the summer time, I’m just so proud of Jeanie Buss because she’s been taking a lot of flak. Now everybody can see who the leader, how great of a owner she really is.”
Davis’ acquisition comes a year after the Lakers signed LeBron James. At the time, their front office of Johnson and Rob Pelinka said James was the first part of a two-year process to rebuild the Lakers into a championship-caliber team.
The Lakers hoped to make progress last season. Hampered by injuries, particularly a five-week absence by James because of a strained groin, they missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. A roster without much shooting and with a hodgepodge of veterans who agreed to one-year deals couldn’t withstand that adversity.
Davis, 26, requested a trade in January and the Lakers aggressively pursued him before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. Though the Lakers were enthusiastic in trying to make a deal, then Pelicans general manager Dell Demps was less so. Demps refused to work with Pelinka, and while he took Johnson’s phone calls, he barely engaged with his offers.
Last week, Griffin put together the potential framework for a deal to open negotiations, encouraging interested teams to find a third team that could help New Orleans obtain a talented veteran. The Pelicans had initially hoped they could acquire three of the Lakers’ top young players and the fourth overall draft pick — one they could send to another team for a player. In particular, New Orleans coveted Kyle Kuzma, but the Lakers kept him at the cost of the first-round picks.
Davis is considered a franchise-changing type of player. The 6-foot-10 forward-center was limited to 56 games last season because of injuries and averaged 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 blocked shots and 1.6 steals. Although those statistics are at or above his career averages, his scoring was down more than two points per game from the previous two seasons.