The Pelicans can keep cashing in on Lakers’ draft picks

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Davis #3 talk during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Davis #3 talk during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans will be in the only team in the lottery of the 2022 NBA Draft that made the playoffs this season.

They are in the rare position to add top-10 talent to a team that is already good and will be getting Zion Williamson back. Not a bad spot to be in.

The 8th pick came courtesy of the Anthony Davis trade and the fact that the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs this season. It seemed like a long shot that this pick would convey, but LA underachieved amidst a ton of injuries and some questionable roster decisions.

The Lakers are now in a tough spot, with a super top-heavy payroll, no cap space, no draft picks and no real assets to make a trade. They would likely have to pay handsomely to get rid of Russell Westbrook, and would still be relying on the injury-prone Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who will be entering his 20th season and has only played a combined 223 games in the last four years.

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The Lakers hired a new head coach, which could also come with some growing pains, so the immediate future of the Los Angeles Lakers is not looking great.

This is all good news for the New Orleans Pelicans.

New Orleans Pelicans draft: The Lakers pick swap and the future

The Anthony Davis trade has worked out for both teams, as the Pelicans have rebuilt their roster and the Lakers got their title.

But the trade isn’t over yet, and the Pelicans may cash in on another Lakers’ pick as soon as next season. They own a pick swap in 2023, and right now, the smart bet is that the Pelicans will use it to trade picks with the Lakers.

Of course, if everything goes well for the Lakers and they can stay healthy, they may prove the doubters wrong and be right back at the top of the Western Conference. New head coach Darvin Ham may be able to figure some things out and get more out of the Lakers’ roster next season.

But that is a lot of “ifs,” so this pick swap is suddenly looking very good for the Pelicans, especially if the Lakers don’t add any impact talent and can’t stay healthy again.

Even if the Lakers bounce back, the Pelicans own their pick in 2024 as well, and if it looks like the Lakers have returned to being a playoff team, the Pels can push it to 2025, when the Lakers’ roster will undoubtedly look a lot different and may not feature LeBron James, who can become a free agent after next season.

The AD trade could end up yielding several more lottery picks and potentially set the Pelicans up for the next decade or allow them to make a splashy trade for another star.

The Lakers got their ring, but by the end of all of this, the Pelicans may have set up the foundation of their franchise for the foreseeable future.

Next. Constructing the perfect offseason for the Pelicans. dark