The Anthony Davis trade talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans at the 2019 NBA trade deadline were nothing if not contentious, and it doesn’t seem like the two sides’ time apart has necessarily healed all of those wounds.
On a perhaps unrelated note, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated said on ESPN that nothing has changed in regards to the Pelicans’ willingness to trade Davis to the Lakers (h/t Dan Feldman of NBC Sports):
I have been told that there’s no way Anthony Davis is coming here, through the Pelicans.
They’re just not going to do it.
According to Feldman, “Michael Wilbon confirmed he heard the same” on the same show.
All that noted, and this isn’t to dispute Wilbon and Spears’ reporting, but... Isn’t that exactly what team posturing for the best trade offers possible would say? I’m not saying the Pelicans are necessarily in a rush to trade Davis to the Lakers, but what possible incentive would they have to leak that they were willing to deal him there right now, when no trades can be made anyway? Why not let the Lakers stew in their own desperation for a star a little bit before the trade market reopens?
But if true, this also shouldn’t be all that surprising, given the animosity between the two franchises. Whether it’s Magic Johnson implying that he didn’t think the Pelicans negotiated in good faith, or the Pelicans leaking that they were “frustrated about how public” the Lakers made the trade talks surrounding Davis — regardless of whether or not you believe them — it’s been clear for a while that the Lakers and Pelicans aren’t going to be making brunch plans anytime soon, even with former general manager Dell Demps no longer being employed by New Orleans.
No, it seems that Klutch Sports’ brazen, 10-day attempt to aggressively try and force Davis’ way to Los Angeles to join LeBron James — and the Pelicans (likely) feeling that the Lakers are complicit in those attempts — did not do a lot for the Lakers’ chances of getting Davis. At least for now.
But these things can change, as even if the Boston Celtics enter the fray this offseason, and even if they are willing to offer Jayson
Christ Tatum, if Davis’ camp continues to intimate that Davis won’t re-sign with Boston or other destinations long-term, there is a chance that Boston and other teams back off, and the Pelicans might have to do a deal with the Lakers just to get something and avoid the risk of losing the best player in franchise history for nothing.
That noted, all the reporting on this seems to indicate that New Orleans is fairly upset about the way all this has went down, and pretty dug in because of it. They might genuinely rather take just about anything other than what the Lakers have to offer for Davis.
If that’s the case, then there is nothing the Lakers can do about it in this transaction, but they should also probably evaluate the way they’re approaching other franchises and try to figure out what exactly they’re doing — or who they’re employing — that is making other teams so dead-set against dealing with them, and try to fix it. All this is a long way off though, so we’ll see if things change by June or July.