It’s been months since the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to the basic framework of their deal for Anthony Davis. So why is the execution of the trade being re-litigated this week? Well, in part because training camp is still weeks away and there isn’t much else to talk about right now, but also because of a few radio and podcast appearances from Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.
Ball was the first to mention the way he learned of the deal this week, going on the radio and saying that he found out he was traded on Twitter. Then, while Ball was appearing on Hart’s podcast, “The LightHarted Podcast,” Hart himself seemed to take some shots at the Lakers:
Ball: “Lithuania was very depressing. I went there to go visit (my brothers), I wouldn’t do it again... You been there?”
Hart: “I’m not going there.”
Ball: “It’s like hella gloomy, nobody smiles, it’s like everybody just hates that they’re there. I’m like ‘damn.’ I had to get out of there, bro.”
Hart: “Sounds like L.A.”
Ball: “Nah, it’s definitely not L.A.”
Hart: “No, I’m not talking about the city.”
Ball: “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
Co-host Matt Hillman: “What are you talking about bro?”
Ball: “I don’t know what he’s talking about... Next question. Cut that part out.”
Hillman: “We’re gonna edit this part out, so you might as well just tell us.”
Hart: “I was going to say the Lakers organization (laughs).”
Hillman: “Oh, shit. Miles, cut.”
Narrator: They did not cut, and when the clip went out, Lakers fans were... less than pleased about Hart’s crack, leading him to begin a sort of spectacular bit of backtracking on Instagram:
Who was that one person? We can’t say for sure, but when that half-hearted (HalfHarted?) apology didn’t calm things down, Hart took to Twitter to apologize again, and clear up what he was really upset about:
Let’s make this clear. I loved my time in LA and loved my coaches, teammates and training staff. Got nothing but love and respect for the front office— Josh Hart (@joshhart) September 5, 2019
I played my ass off for the purple and gold. Played hurt and never had an excuse. I’m truly grateful to the Lakers organization and I do understand the NBA is a business. But as a player you just want the courtesy of a phone call saying I got traded and not finding out on Twitter— Josh Hart (@joshhart) September 5, 2019
That’s a fair ask from Hart, in a vacuum at least. Unfortunately, however, the NBA doesn’t exist in a vacuum. While the league’s collective bargaining agreement does require teams to inform the players involved in a trade before any public announcement is made, the trade wasn’t announced by the teams until around a month later, it just leaked early, and there isn’t much the Lakers can do about that (provided they weren’t the ones that leaked it, which we can’t prove or disprove). It’s not like they were going to call a player before the deal is done — for several reasons I got at in here — and if the Pelicans or some other party leaked the deal to reporters before the Lakers could call Hart, Ball and the rest of the traded players, then that’s unfortunate for them, but sort of unavoidable.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. New Laker Jared Dudley offered a bit of perspective from an NBA veteran on Twitter during the whole news cycle of Hart’s comments:
I’ve been traded 3 times since I been in the league and only once have I got a phone call before new broke, and that was pre social media. That’s not the nature of this business, just like finding out where your getting drafted before hearing from the team. https://t.co/yk1vqmAT4e— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) September 5, 2019
GM call the league to make the trade final. Multiple people know about the trade before it’s goes down and front office/agents leaked it to who they want. It’s not wrong but hopefully the organization calls you after to thank you for everything you did for them.. https://t.co/bkXmGFdi4Q— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) September 5, 2019
And such a post-agreement call is just about all the Lakers could have done. Did they? We don’t know, but Hart being annoyed about finding out on Twitter isn’t the same as accusing the Lakers of never calling him, so we can’t say for certain one way or the other. All we do know is that this is over now, and it’s probably best if all parties move on fairly soon. For the sake of all of their (and our) collective sanity.