Wednesday, the rumor circling was that Dell Demps was going to hilarious lengths not to hold trade talks for Anthony Davis. The update to that story is now that it sounds like it’s not the whole league he won’t return trade calls to. No, that line of behavior is only reserved for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN offered up the latest on an altogether annoying saga at this point.
Demps hasn’t yet returned Pelinka’s call, but likely will several days prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. Pelinka can offer an a la carte of the Lakers’ young prospects and future draft picks, or offer to use those players and picks to canvass the league to furnish players for Demps that he might prefer in a multi-team trade.
That second half of the sentence is exactly why it’s stupid and ridiculous for Demps to not accept the Lakers’ calls. If the Lakers currently hold something that another team might want (for example, the Phoenix Suns have been desperate for a point guard all season), and Phoenix holds something New Orleans might prefer to whatever the Lakers can offer, then the three teams can work together.
So long as Demps continues to behave like the three-year-old holding their breath rather than eating their vegetables, none of that can happen. Woj and Lowe do report that, eventually, Demps might stop behaving as such.
Eventually, Demps is expected to return that call to Pelinka, but there remains no clear and immediate pathway to a trade. This could be long, nasty process. Paul is unphased to make it a brawl, and Ainge is unafraid to make the trade. And, it appears, New Orleans is unafraid to make everyone wait.
To a certain extent, there might not be anything to be gained for Demps to accept a call from the Lakers. We mostly know what’s on the table (everything but LeBron), so in just those simplest of terms, sure, Demps might not be missing on anything. But there’s also, I don’t know, just regular adult behavior and professionalism to consider.
For example, let’s just say Danny Ainge (who has been reluctant per Woj and Lowe to promise to include Jayson Tatum) does exactly what Danny Ainge always does and weasels out of any promise he has been reluctant to make. Let’s also say the New York Knicks don’t land the top lottery pick. Both these things happening would lower the market on Davis. So why would the Lakers then operate in good faith if this is how they’re treated in initial attempts at conversation?
Demps and Gayle Benson might be applauded for their standing up to the big, bad Lakers, but those teams that are doing so are still the Pelicans’ competition. If the Pelicans’ ignoring the Lakers right now might cost them a chance at what actually turns out to be the best offer on the table, those other teams win twice. They get to see the Lakers look desperate waiting on Demps to merely acknowledge them and they get to watch a competitor put themselves in a worse spot in the process.
There is no martyrdom in the NBA. You take the best deal you can given the circumstances and you try to move on. This isn’t to say the Lakers’ offer is definitely the best offer, mind you. I’m merely pointing out best practices.
Demps is a week away from the trade deadline. At some point over that time, it seems he’ll eventually speak with the Lakers. But much like holding one’s breath so as to avoid broccoli, his tactics right now are merely delaying the inevitable.