The LeBron James era with the LA Lakers may have spawned a new era for the New Orleans Pelicans. After James joined the Lakers prior to the start of the 2018-19 season, he and the team's young core had a difficult season. The team finished the year with a 37-45 record that saw them finish in 10th place in the Western Conference.
To make matters worse, James only played in 55 games that season, a career low at the time. Following the team's Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors, it was reported that James had sustained a groin injury. For the first time in his career, he missed 17 straight games as the team's young core struggled to stay afloat. After returning to the floor, James was unable to steady the ship.
The following offseason, James and the front office went to work trading away their young core for 'win now' players. The first major move the team made was trading away Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks to acquire Anthony Davis.
When the Lakers won the NBA championship during the 2019-20 season, it seemed as though they had won the trade. With James and Davis looking dominant en route to a Finals win, it seemed the team had a dynamic duo for years to come. Needless to say, that hasn't been the case.
Meanwhile, on the flip side of things, the Pelicans are currently one of the most promising teams in the West.
With a dominant young duo of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram to go along with veteran CJ McCollum, the team has continued to develop. As the Lakers continued to fall in the Western Conference standings, the Pelicans will have the opportunity to swap picks with them. With all eyes on Victor Wembanyama in the upcoming draft, it looks as though the Pelicans could be leading the race.
The Lakers, Pelicans, and the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes
As the Lakers continue to fall in the Western Conference standings, their chances of winning the draft lottery continue to go up. Given that, the opportunity for the Pelicans to swap picks is continuing to become more and more likely.
Early on in the season, NBA Commissioner Adam Siler implored teams to avoid tanking for Wembanyama. He explained that even though the possibility of acquiring a generational talent like the 7-foot-2 French star is appealing, teams shouldn't tank.
Should the Pelicans secure Wembanyama via pick swap, the Lakers' trade for Anthony Davis could go down as one of the worst in NBA history. Of course, there is still plenty of time for the LA franchise to turn things around this season. With Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant both still sidelined with injuries, the team has continued to hold out hope that they can go on a tear.
Whether or not they're able to do so in time to make the playoffs, of course, remains to be seen.
Check out the video below breaking down how the Lakers trade could make the Pelicans unstoppable for years to come.