The New Orleans Pelicans traded Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason, significantly changing the direction of both franchises.
The Lakers were eager to pair the six-time All-Star with LeBron James and immediately make Los Angeles a championship contender after a six-season absence from the playoffs. So far so good as the Lakers (15-2) have the best record in the NBA.
The Pelicans on the other hand were looking to the future and building around the three players they got from the Lakers — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart — along with a slew of draft choices from L.A.
Throw in No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson (though he’s yet to play because of knee surgery) and a couple of other promising rookies and the future looks bright in New Orleans. But in the present, New Orleans is just 6-11 as it prepares to host Davis and the Lakers for the first time Wednesday night.
All three former Lakers have missed time because of injury, though each is expected to play Wednesday.
“It’s going to be me against the Pelicans and then the three guys, if they play, against the Lakers, so it’s going to be a great battle,” Davis said. “Those guys are going to try to take our heads off just to prove a point, and I don’t want to say I want to take their heads off. I just want to win it.”
L.A. has won eight games in a row as it completes a four-game road trip two nights after a 114-104 victory at San Antonio on Monday.
“It’s going to be different, obviously,” Davis said. “I think you’ve got to embrace it. I know what the reaction’s going to be. I try to look at all the guys who went and (returned to where they used to play), but it’s unique, and I’m excited to go there and play for the first time with an opposing team, so it’s going to be fun.”
The Pelicans have a lot of new faces, but Alvin Gentry was Davis’ coach for the final four of Davis’ seven seasons in New Orleans and guard Jrue Holiday was his teammate for all but Davis’ rookie season.
“I think seeing him in a different jersey will be cool,” Holiday said after practice Tuesday. “He seems happy, so I’m happy.”
The Pelicans have played better since a 1-7 start, winning four of their last seven games. They just finished a road trip that began in promising fashion with a victory at Phoenix, but then lost to the Jazz and the Clippers.
The Jazz jumped to a 28-9 lead and the Clippers led 40-27 at the end of the first quarter and built the lead to 62-37 during the second quarter.
A similar start would be even more difficult to overcome against James, Davis and the Lakers.
“AD is a great kid and a great player who plays on another team now,” Gentry said. “The bottom line is we’re getting ready to play against a really, really, really good basketball team. They have two great players and a lot of other guys who are very good, complementary players.”
–Field Level Media