The draft lottery rewarded New Orleans and upended the race for Anthony Davis

Davis might not be onboard with that blueprint, though. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported shortly after the lottery that AD’s “stance on a trade has not changed.” If true, that means he remains uninterested in signing a long-term extension in New Orleans, and wants to be shipped to a new home as soon as possible. But if Griffin can construct a roster good enough to win and enticing enough to convince AD to give it a chance—which sure sounds like his plan—then maybe the Pelicans find themselves vaulting right back into the Western Conference playoff picture next season, and maybe a 180-degree change in the franchise’s fortunes can convince Davis to change his mind about the future. If Davis is unmoved, Griffin can throw open the bidding process as anticipated, inviting the best offers from every team still salivating at the chance to import an MVP-caliber modern big man in his prime—and he doesn’t have to leap at the first passable offer to cross his desk. He can ask for the moon, weigh his options, and wait—maybe, if ownership’s got the stomach for it, even until next season’s trade deadline. He’ll deal from a position of strength, with a new cornerstone already on the way to take Davis’s place in the Pelicans frontcourt and in the hearts and minds of New Orleanians.

The Celtics have been waiting years for their chance to bid for Davis, but the uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving’s future looms large. If the All-Star point guard pulls up stakes after a disappointing end to a disappointing season, Davis could take a dimmer view of Boston’s prospects for long-term title contention, thus making him the kind of one-year rental for whom Celtics president Danny Ainge might not want to sacrifice potential cornerstones like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. Even after the still-unbelievable exit of Magic Johnson and the month of internal chaos that has ensued in Los Angeles, LeBron’s Lakers surely still have interest in adding another marquee star to spark the return to prominence that was supposed to come this season. But given how testy negotiations got back in February, will Pelicans owner Gayle Benson be willing to gift-wrap Davis for L.A., even if Griffin evaluates the Lakers’ offer—which could now include this year’s no. 4 overall pick—as the best haul?

The Lakers won big, but what will they do with their winnings?

Under the new flattened-out lottery odds implemented this year, L.A. had only a 9.4 percent chance of getting a top-four pick. And yet, the Lakers rocketed all the way up from no. 11 to the no. 4 spot, which seemed to please the King …

… and which could offer a dramatic boost to the trade package they could offer for Davis. Provided, of course, that’s still the tack they plan to take.

As mentioned, it’s been a weird month in Lakerland, full of shifting power dynamics, midstream course changes in coaching hires, and what appears to be a fundamental lack of direction. The Lakers still have LeBron to build around, and with two guaranteed seasons left on the 34-year-old’s contract, the time seems ripe for a win-now reload prioritizing the addition of elite talent, both in free agency (the Lakers have enough cap space for a top-tier veteran maximum salary) and in trade. Then again, there seems to be at least some who watched the Lakers crater due to James’s midseason groin injury and the overarching effects of the Davis debacle, and think the franchise’s best path forward might instead be to reinvest in the young pieces—Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart—so frequently bandied about as fungible sweeteners in a potential AD deal. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne recently described the Lakers’ eventual decision to hire Frank Vogel as their new head coach as their “passive-aggressive way of sort of resetting the LeBron era. I think this is their passive-aggressive way of saying, we need to empower our young guys, we need to get back to being a team.”
Those young guys can’t be empowered if they’re not on the roster. Is that no. 4 pick destined to become the swing piece in a Davis deal that sends the Lakers’ brightest young things to the Big Easy to link up with Zion? Or is it about to become the focal point of a tug-of-war over the wisest path forward for one of the NBA’s most volatile and drama-soaked organizations?