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Lakers set to team Anthony Davis with LeBron as West gets more interesting

Remember how the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title was the NBA’s big story?

Well, that lasted for less than two days, thanks to a mega-trade on Saturday afternoon. While the Raptors partied in Las Vegas, Sin City’s betting lines for 2019-20 got all shook up thanks to the pending acquisition of superstar Anthony Davis by the Los Angeles Lakers.

ESPN reported a deal has been reached that will see New Orleans send Davis, its disgruntled three-time All-NBA First Team big man, to LeBron James and the Lakers.

The Pelicans will get back former No. 2 overall selections Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three future first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s draft. The deal cannot be finalized until July 6.

The Lakers were the first choice for Davis, who asked to be dealt there back in January, but new Pelicans general manager David Griffin was still able to get massive value, far more than San Antonio got from Toronto for Kawhi Leonard, who arguably had an even more impressive resume than Davis, just a year ago, though Leonard was coming off of a significant injury.

New Orleans can now team sure-fire No. 1 pick Zion Williams, standout two-way guard Jrue Holiday, and whoever the team takes fourth overall, with Ball and Ingram. Ex-Laker big man Julius Randle has a team option with the Pelicans. Both teams could have cap space to sign another major piece, depending on when the trade is officially completed.

Though James will turn 35 in late-December, playing alongside another superstar like Davis should ease his load and perhaps extend his run of dominance, if the Lakers can add enough shooting around them.

Davis, 26, averaged 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his bizarre final season in New Orleans. He was the top pick of the 2012 draft. He averaged 28.0 and 28.1 points per game in the previous two seasons and was third in MVP voting just two years ago (James finished second that year and both were also in the top five in 2014-15).

With Golden State likely missing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson for all or most of the season, the West is suddenly extremely interesting. James will be looking for some redemption after the most frustrating season of his career, assuming he can get back to 100% for an entire season. Health is always an issue with Davis, too, but Los Angeles is expected to add another star via free agency, with Kemba Walker emerging as the nom de jour on Saturday.

Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, D’Angelo Russell, (restricted) Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic, Malcolm Brogdon (restricted) and J.J. Redick are among the more interesting names on the market.

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