Pelicanos agree to exchange Anthony Davis with the Lakers

Davis, who asked to be traded in January, heads to Los Angeles in exchange for young stars like Lonzo Ball and first-round picks.

The Los Angeles Lakers' great fondness for acquiring elite big men when they need them the most reappeared on Saturday, when the glamorous but troubled franchise reached an agreement to buy Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, uniting Davis, a six Star, with LeBron James.

To make Davis his last front-line centerpiece, the Lakers are sending a great tour to New Orleans, with the prized guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart; forward Brandon Ingram; and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 pick in the N.B.A. from Thursday. draft.

However, the Lakers, after six humble consecutive seasons of the playoffs, although they had to hand over all those assets for the opportunity to unite James and Davis. Los Angeles must now hope that the two, under new coach Frank Vogel, can unite in a way that recalls the famous associations of the Lakers as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kobe Bryant with Shaquille O'Neal.

The trade, which can not be completed before July 6 when the new salary cap begins in the N.B.A., was confirmed by two people with knowledge of the agreement who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. ESPN reported for the first time on the teams' agreement, which establishes Davis as the latest in a lineage of decorated Lakers power players that started with George Mikan in Minneapolis in the 1950s and has also featured Wilt Chamberlain, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard plus Abdul-Jabbar and O'Neal.

Without doubt, the Lakers felt a great urge to switch to Davis after a hugely disappointing season, the first of James with the team and the first since 2005 without a trip to the playoffs. Los Angeles finished out of contention with a record of 37-45 after James missed a significant part of the second half of the season with a groin injury. The Lakers have also been embroiled in administrative chaos since Johnson abruptly resigned as team president on April 9.

Johnson has been very critical of the organization since his departure, but he congratulated Jeanie Buss, the beleaguered owner of the Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka on a series of Twitter posts on Saturday.

"Laker Nation, you wanted the great Jeanie Buss to take over and bring a championship team back to L.A. And that's what she's doing!" Johnson published.

As for Pelinka, whose confidence Johnson has questioned in multiple recent interviews, Johnson tweeted: "Great exchange, Rob Pelinka! Work well done."

In the middle of the team's tough season, James was still very productive when he was healthy, with an average of 27.4 points, 8.3 assists and 8.5 rebounds in 55 games. But now he's preparing for his 17th season at 34, and he has three years left on his contract with the Lakers, who want to maximize the time he has left as one of the best players in the league.

With that in mind, the Lakers plan to make a strong effort to sign Kemba Walker of Charlotte when free agency begins on June 30, according to two people familiar with their plans who were not authorized to discuss them publicly.

The Lakers hope to have between $ 28 million and $ 33 million in salary cap space to pursue Walker to fill the gap in his defense zone created by the departures of Ball and Hart. Walker, a three-time All-Star, has said he will give the Hornets the first crack to re-sign him, but he is also expected to be aggressively pursued by the Dallas Mavericks and the Lakers.

James, four times N.B.A. the most valuable player, still wants to compete for the championships, and the race in the Western Conference next season can be quite open, since the Golden State Warriors, after three championships in the last five seasons, face an unexpected uncertainty; Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, two members of its All-Star core, suffered devastating injuries at the N.B.A. final

Both players are destined for free agency, and while Thompson, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, is likely to re-sign with the Warriors, Durant will still have several suitors despite tearing his Achilles tendon in the endings The Toronto Raptors, led by the Kawhi Leonard, won that series on Thursday to prevent the Warriors from winning a third straight title.

Although the finals were underway, the Lakers remained in the headlines, as they had throughout the season.