A giant “WojBomb” shook the NBA world as New Orleans sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. I talked with Ethan Krieger to get a perspective and opinion of the trade from the Pelicans’ point of view.
Ethan does great work for Pelican Debrief, a Fansided website that covers the New Orleans Pelicans and provides quality articles. He’s very familiar with the Pelicans and the situation that has transpired involving Anthony Davis wanting out.
Harrison Grimm (HG): While most people expected a trade to go down, nobody really knew the exact timing it would occur. What was your first reaction when you saw the news?
Ethan Krieger (EK): Even though there were plenty of rumors swirling around a day or two before the trade went down, it was still a surprise to see the Woj notification come across my phone. With the chatter dying down a bit, I expected we wouldn’t see a trade actually materialize until Draft Night. My first reaction was, “Oh man, I’ve gotta write about this ASAP.” The curse of a writer, I suppose. It’s always about that next article.
HG: The Pelicans got back quite the haul for Anthony Davis; Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and a number of first round draft picks. Out of all the assets acquired in this deal, which do you think has the most value for the Pelicans?
EK: In order, I’d rank the assets as:
- Brandon Ingram
- The Draft Assets
- Lonzo Ball
- Josh Hart
Pelican Debrief is high on all of these guys, but prolific wings are a must-have in the NBA these days, and Ingram has the best shot at becoming a transcendent star at this position if he keeps improving. The draft assets are incredibly compelling simply based on the fact that they extend from 2019-2025, so they’ll set the team up for a long time. Lonzo and Hart could absolutely thrive here too, but that’s how I’d rank everything.
HG: The Lakers were adament in keeping Kyle Kuzma. Is there any disappointment on your side in not acquiring him in this deal?
EK: Not really, no. That’s not to say Kyle Kuzma isn’t a good player, but everyone was kind of expecting the winning offer to be Kuzma, Ingram, Ball, and the #4 pick. Swapping out Kuzma for Hart and draft assets through 2025 was unexpected, and is a better deal anyway (in my opinion).
HG: Brandon Ingram’s season was cut short due to blood clots. Ingram has shown flashes of all-star potential, but there is obviously some risk that those issues may arise again. Is there any worry surrounding Ingram in terms of health? Do you view it as a big risk in any way?
EK: Given Chris Bosh’s situation that ultimately cut his career short, it’s tough to not always have Ingram’s health scare in the back of your mind. However, I trust that David Griffin did plenty of homework to make sure Ingram is expected to be totally fine. It’s still technically a risk because health issues and injuries are impossible to predict, but I have no reason to doubt Griffin’s judgment here.
HG: Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday have the skill sets to become a very special backcourt. Both have shown elite skills on the defensive side of the ball. In your eyes, do they mesh well offensively and do you think they can work together in the long term?
EK: I do see a lot of potential for this duo, and on both sides of the ball. There are no concerns at all defensively. These two guys are going to be able to lockdown most backcourts in the NBA, save the few powerhouse combos, such as Lillard and McCollum or Curry and Thompson. Offensively, Lonzo and Jrue will be just fine. Jrue prefers to play off the ball, so Lonzo will be the one handling the true “point guard” duties. He’s shown he can be a great distributor, and that’s all he really needs to be with Jrue and Zion on the court with him. It should work very well.
HG: The Pelicans managed to acquire the 4th overall pick in the draft to pair with their first selection. There have been rumors that they may shop the pick. Which direction do you think the Pelicans should go in: trade the pick or draft someone at 4?
EK: I understand the temptation to trade away the pick, but personally, I’d prefer the Pelicans to hang onto it. Getting an already established player would be exciting, sure. But I’m more into the idea of these young stud prospects growing together under Holiday’s watchful leadership. The other interesting option is potentially trading back with a team like the Atlanta Hawks, who own multiple first rounders. I’d be totally okay swapping our #4 in exchange for the #8 and #10 from Atlanta. It’s a risk because there are a couple players projected around #4 that I really like, but there’s still a lot of value to be had at #8 and #10.
HG: If the Pelicans end up keeping the pick at number 4, who should they draft?
EK: I’d definitely want New Orleans to take Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech at #4 if they decide to hang onto this pick. Culver can play the point, the 2, or the wing against the right matchups, so his versatility is extremely intriguing. He wouldn’t crack the starting rotation initially, since those first three positions will be filled by Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and Brandon Ingram, but that’s okay. Culver could be in charge of the second unit and have free reign to have the ball in his hands a ton in this situation. I think this is a great place for him to get a large amount of meaningful development minutes without the pressure of a starting role right off the bat. Darius Garland from Vanderbilt and De’Andre Hunter from Virginia would also be nice options here, but Jarrett Culver is absolutely my choice.
HG: The Pelicans managed to gain a good amount of assets for a star that has wanted out for the past few months. What do you think the Pelicans should look for in free agency/the draft to pair with their new core featuring Zion Williamson?
EK: It’s no secret that the one hole in Zion’s game (for the time being) is his shooting from long-range. Because of this, opposing defenses will feel comfortable sagging off of him on the perimeter in order to clog the paint, the area where he’s most dangerous. Think of how teams guarded Giannis before Coach Bud came in and surrounded him with shooters. The Pelicans would be smart to follow this model and add as many deep threats as possible to the roster in order to spread the floor. The position where this could make the biggest difference is the center, since a big man can clearly take up a ton of space down low if he isn’t able to stretch the floor. I’d love for the Pelicans to look to free agency to address this need. A center like Brook Lopez, who shot about 37% on six attempts from range this past season would be ideal. Using the #4 pick to trade for a guy like Myles Turner would be incredible as well. Good shooters across the board should be at the top of Griffin’s wishlist.
HG: Given a scale of 1-10, how well would you rate this trade for the Pelicans? Could they have done anything better or worse?
EK: I’d give it about an 8, maybe even a 9 with the extent of these draft assets and the fact that they stretch all the way through 2025. No all-stars came back in the deal, but there is a ton of value in these three young players and all of these first round picks and pick swaps. It sounds like Boston got cold feet on offering up Jayson Tatum, so you can’t fault David Griffin at all for taking a deal like this from the Lakers. Frankly, it’s a little surprising he was able to pull off a deal this good with it being common knowledge league-wide that AD wanted out of New Orleans. It’s hard to complain at all about this deal, and I’d say most Pelicans fans are happy with it. Now, we all get to move on and enjoy the future.
A massive thank you goes out to Ethan for taking the time to answer our questions and break down this massive trade. You can follow him and see his work @KreigerSports on Twitter.