The Anthony Davis trade discussions this season went about as poorly as possible for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did they not end up with Davis, despite offering up essentially every asset at their disposal, but they antagonized just about every player on the team with incessant trade rumors in the process.
The front office got a lot of grief around the league for how they approached the trade, both because of the widely public nature of so many of the offers, but also because many NBA people didn’t think Los Angeles’ trade package was all that appealing. For a refresher, the Lakers at one point were rumored to be offering Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and salary filler along with two first-round picks while taking back Solomon Hill’s contract along with Davis.
Although New Orleans was seemingly uninterested in what Los Angeles was proposing in February, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that the Pelicans liked the Lakers’ trade offer more than they let on at the time during a recent appearance on “The Woj Pod” with Adrian Wojnarowski (also of ESPN):
“Brandon Ingram’s health status is a major variable here that didn’t exist back when they were originally trying to pursue Anthony Davis, and I’ve spoken to people within the Pelicans organization, and they admitted that that package was pretty attractive, but they also admitted that it looks a lot different now, when considering Ingram, than it did back then.”
That last part is certainly worth nothing, because if their feelings have changed since due to the uncertainty regarding Ingram’s health — as has been alluded to previously — this may be a moot point.
There is a lot more to unpack here, though. First of all, the leadership in the Pelicans organization has changed dramatically since the original trade talks. GM Dell Demps was fired and was replaced by former Cleveland GM David Griffin, so it’s hard to know if McMenamin’s information comes from people who are still in positions of real authority.
Secondly, when trading a superstar, generally the three pieces a team wants in exchange are young players, draft assets, and cap relief. The Lakers’ rumored offer ticked all three of those boxes, so it isn’t surprising that there were people within the Pelicans who believed their team was getting a fair return.
Nevertheless, of course New Orleans would try to feign disinterest during the process as a means of gaining leverage and squeezing more assets out of the Lakers. It doesn’t do the Pelicans a disservice to admit their interest in those pieces now, because the Ingram that existed at the trade deadline is only theoretical due to blood clot issues that cut his season short. It sounds like he’s going to be okay, but other organizations are going to want to see it before they believe it.
But despite Griffin’s posturing that his front office will try to rebuild their relationship with Davis, it is highly likely that the Pelicans will still attempt to trade him in the final season of his contract. Boston may be off the board if their playoff flameout leads Kyrie Irving out the door, so New Orleans may indeed have to deal with Los Angeles again. This report doesn’t seem like a deliberate mea culpa to get back in the Lakers’ good graces, but it’s a start to know that there at least is the potential for legitimate negotiation, something that was sorely missing back when this drama first began.
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