The NBA thrives on trade rumors like the Anthony Davis saga, but they’re less fun for the organizations involved, which is probably why the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans can’t stop anonymously whining about leaks.
Over the past week, it’s been mostly the Lakers doing the complaining, with owner Jeanie Buss calling the reports of the Lakers trade proposals for Davis “fake news,” and the Lakers leaking that they were upset with the Pelicans for leaking their trade offers and that they thought NBA teams “have gone to great lengths” to sabotage them.
Not to be out-leaked, the Pelicans have responded by leaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic that no, actually, they are the ones that are upset with the Lakers for... leaking all of their own trade offers that ended up blowing up their locker room, I guess?
Anyway, here is Charania’s report:
It is possible Buss was not made aware of every aspect of the play-by-play as trade talks developed. Throughout the two-week saga stemming from Davis’ trade request, the Pelicans became frustrated about how public the Lakers-initiated discussions had become.
“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” one Pelicans source with direct knowledge of discussions told The Athletic.
So to recap: The Pelicans are leaking that they’re upset with the Lakers for leaking their own trade offers as a response to the Lakers leaking that they were upset that the Pelicans’ leaked all of the Lakers’ trade offers.
Or as friend of the site @basquiatball put it more simply on Twitter:
Pelicans leak leaks they didn't leak the leaks https://t.co/7pQQW2X8f5— Contrarian Contrarian (@basquiatball) March 7, 2019
If we’re being real, though, both sides need to shut up and stop whining about leaks at this point. For both of these organizations to sit and whine that “oh, it wasn’t us, we would NEVER leak” is frankly ridiculous. We don’t have to KNOW who leaked what to have a pretty good idea that both sides took place in this leak-off, because the motivations were fairly plain. Let’s rewind back to the trade deadline.
The Pelicans put the Lakers’ ridiculous bids against themselves out there to blow up the Lakers’ locker room as revenge for how Davis’ camp had hit them with a coordinated media onslaught meant to reduce their leverage and force them to do a deal with the Lakers by the trade deadline.
As the negotiations went on, it was clear as day to watch the pendulum swing back and forth. There would be a report that implied Davis would never stay in Boston long-term — meant to scare the Celtics away and make the Pelicans feel they had to do a deal with the Lakers — followed by a report that the Lakers had offered basically their whole team for Davis.
Then there would be a leak from the Lakers that no, actually they hadn’t offered that much, followed by a Pelicans leak that they weren’t sure they were going to trade Davis by the deadline (a leak intended to entice the Lakers to bid against themselves again, which ensuing leaks have made obvious was a strategy that worked). As Brian Windhorst of ESPN called it, it was “Information Wars” that escalated as far as any we’ve ever seen:
So I asked @WindhorstESPN if the Pels ever intended to seriously engage with LA on Anthony Davis, or if all the talks & leaks were instead designed to sabotage the young Lakers as revenge for what N.O. sees as tampering, & he said "it's not just possible, it's what happened." pic.twitter.com/wki2hDPaEs— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 7, 2019
As is usual with this stuff, it was all pretty transparent if you looked past the “anonymous sources” part of it and asked yourself “who does this report benefit?”
The answer varied with each leak, and even if you don’t come to the same conclusions about the exact motivations for each of the leaks as I did above, we can all at least agree that it’s eminently clear that both sides took part in this circus, and that both the Pelicans and Lakers are frankly insulting our collective intelligence by leaking that they didn’t do any leaking and expecting any of us to believe it.