Lakers' Anthony Davis trade starts arms race to take Warriors' crown

Lakers' Anthony Davis trade starts arms race to take Warriors' crown

The Warriors have grown accustomed to being the hunted over the last half-decade.

Over that span, the rest of the NBA has been in an arms race to catch them, to no avail. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, Golden State achieved the greatest five-year run in NBA history. 

Now, after the Warriors’ 2019 NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors and injuries to Durant and Thompson, the rest of the league is primed to permanently end the dynasty.

The latest example comes out of Los Angeles, where the Lakers — who will open their preseason against the Warriors on Oct. 5 in the first game in San Francisco's Chase Center — reportedly have traded for superstar Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, shipping out Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's draft.

More intriguing, the team could have between $27 million and $32 million in salary-cap space to potentially use on a free agency pool that includes Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker.

The Warriors aren’t strangers to arms races against them, most notably from the Houston Rockets, who admittedly obsessed with the Warriors, traded for Chris Paul in 2017 to achieve common footing. More recently, with James out of the Eastern Conference, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri traded for Kawhi Leonard, a move that ultimately dethroned the Warriors two days ago.

However, the Lakers' move comes at a unique time of peril for the Warriors. Entering free agency, their two top targets — Durant and Thompson — will be expected to sit out most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season with major rehabilitation timetables. Both players are expected to command maximum salary slots, so if both re-sign, the Warriors will enter next season with two top players on the bench and little cap space to use on improvements.

It's appropriate that the Lakers are the first team this summer to make a move toward championship consideration. For the last half-century, the franchise was everything the Warriors dynasty currently is. A healthy, star-driven franchise had the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant donning its colors, helping the franchise win 15 titles.

However, since 2013, the Lakers haven’t reached the playoffs, building a reputation for more off-court drama than on-court wins. Two months ago, Johnson — the team's vice president of basketball operations — abruptly stepped down before the team's season finale, citing trust issues with general manager Rob Pelinka.

Now, with the addition of Davis, the Lakers could be back to contending for titles. With their cap space, they can bring at least one more near-max player on the roster.

[RELATED: Vegas makes Lakers favorites to win NBA title]

As for the Warriors, more questions linger. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney will be free agents, and the team must decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell. Worse, of the players with All-Star experience, only Curry and Green will be expected full participants when training camp opens in September.

Following Thursday's season-ending loss, Green said it wouldn't be smart to count out the Warriors, citing their championship pedigree. Time will tell whether his words will ring true, but as the Lakers proved Saturday, the rest of the league is coming for their crown.

Warriors vs. Lakers live stream: How to watch NBA preseason game


Warriors vs. Lakers live stream: How to watch NBA preseason game

It seems like we’ve been here before.

The Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers will match up for the third time this preseason Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

The two clubs played just two days ago at Staples Center, with the Lakers coming out on top with a 104-98 win.

Steph Curry will not play in the penultimate preseason game for Golden State, and forward Omari Spellman also will sit after a tweaked back suffered in Monday night’s loss.

Anthony Davis, who missed Monday’s game, is expected to suit up for Los Angeles.

[RELATED: How Steph plans to stay healthy through heavy workload]

Here’s how you can watch Warriors-Lakers online and on TV:

When: Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Steve Kerr jokes with Klay Thompson about redshirt year with Warriors

Steve Kerr jokes with Klay Thompson about redshirt year with Warriors

Now this is the kind of content you are here for.

Steve Kerr spoke to reporters after shootaround Wednesday morning. And as he saw guard Klay Thompson walking nearby, the Warriors coach busted out the jokes.

"Klay, we don't really need at all," Kerr said.

After Thompson responded with "redshirt season," Kerr seized the opportunity to roast the two-time All-NBA selection.

"We're redshirting him, trying to get him bigger and stronger. Get him used to campus life. Academically, he's got a ways to go ..."

Klay is rehabbing his torn left ACL, and will be sidelined until at least the All-Star break.

It's possible that the five-time All-Star misses the whole season, hence the "redshirt" reference.

[RELATEDDubs' Spellman out for tonight's preseason game at Lakers]

But the Warriors sure hope that doesn't become the reality and Klay is able to come back at the end of the regular season for a playoff push.

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