Despite the momentum the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans appeared to have towards completing an Anthony Davis trade, it certainly seems like the Pelicans are still interested in making the deal with Boston instead of Los Angeles.
The Celtics have reportedly come to terms with the fact that Kyrie Irving won’t be on their team next season, but that hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm for going after Davis, even if they can’t guarantee that he’ll want to stay for more than one year, according to the latest report from Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe:
Although the tenuous situation may have affected the Celtics’ trade offers so far, the sources said Boston remains quite interested in Davis, regardless of Irving’s future.
There has been some suggestion that the Pelicans will push to complete a deal soon so they will have more time to evaluate prospects they could select with whatever draft picks they receive in trade. But a league source said that notion has been overblown, and that New Orleans is confident in its multiyear evaluation process of current prospects.
The Lakers should at least take heart in the fact that they haven’t missed David Griffin’s faux deadline. But Boston’s persistent presence in these trade talks is troubling, especially considering there have been no reports that the Celtics are even putting their best young player (Jayson Tatum) in the deal yet.
Part of seems to be that Los Angeles also still has to overcome the hard feelings generated by Rich Paul leaking Davis’ trade request back in January. As a result, even though the Lakers are offering more than the Celtics so far, Himmelsbach’s sources suggest the two teams are still on relatively even footing.
The sources confirmed the general notion that the chase for Davis is setting up to be a showdown between the Celtics and Lakers. Los Angeles would appear to be in a position of strength, knowing that Davis will almost certainly stay there long-term if he is acquired.
But some sources believe there is still some bitterness among the Pelicans ownership group relating to how Paul and the Lakers essentially worked in tandem when Davis requested to be traded prior to the February deadline, even though Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has publicly been more open to the possibility of doing business with the Lakers.
There was hope that the overhaul of the Pelicans front office — removing Dell Demps for Griffin and Trajan Langdon — would enable the Lakers to have a more productive working relationship than at the trade deadline. However, the problem starts at the top, and it seems Gayle Benson (or someone else at that level) hasn’t forgotten or forgiven the trade demand that blew up her team’s season.
Rich Paul has defended his handling of the situation, but it’s still another hurdle the Lakers will have to clear. Trading for Davis remains the Lakers’ easiest path to acquiring another superstar. However, even though it’s the most likely, that doesn’t mean there won’t be more challenges along the way. Some of them — seemingly — a bit self-inflicted.