Los Angeles owns the basketball universe like never before. The Lakers and Clippers are the NBA’s most in-demand teams in the eyes of fans and in Las Vegas. Online ticket exchange StubHub says the opening night game between the two teams is not only their top-selling ticket by far this season but of any season in recent memory.
What’s in Store for Both Teams this Season?
The Lakers’ pursuit of All-NBA power forward Anthony Davis had a damaging effect on two franchises last season. Following a trade request by Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans engaged in a contentious and public back-and-forth with LA that created a public relations mess and cost Pelicans general manager Dell Demps his job.
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Notable Free Agents and Trades
The year ultimately ended no deal for Davis and LA team president Magic Johnson suddenly resigning on the last day of the Lakers’ regular season. This summer, the Pelicans’ new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin was not able to convince Davis to stay despite winning the Draft Lottery. He instead traded the 26 year old to LA for the Lakers’ young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks.
Meanwhile the Clippers were planning a series of moves that would create even bigger headlines. Media reports said that coveted free agent and reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard told the Clippers he would play for them only if they engineered a deal for a second superstar. That challenge led to a stunning trade for Oklahoma City forward Paul George.
The Lakers have an unquestioned duo in LeBron James and Anthony Davis but their depth beyond that is questionable. James suffered the longest injury-related absence of his career last season as the 34 year old played in just 55 games. Davis has been plagued by various ailments his entire career.
Clippers New Marketing Efforts and Inglewood Arena
The Clippers plan on a similar rest strategy this year and it remains to be seen how it will affect their regular season record. The Clippers transformation kicked into high gear with the team’s sale to current owner Steve Ballmer. The former Microsoft executive is the richest owner in American team sports with a reported $51.7 billion net-worth. His vision of pulling the Clippers out of the Lakers’ shadow hinges largely on building a new arena.