When Hall of Famer and current President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson brought Lebron James to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, many league observers speculated that a second or possibly third star could join James in Los Angeles to form a super team to challenge the brewing dynasty in the bay area, the Golden State Warriors. However, when Paul George opted to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder without even giving his hometown Lakers a meeting, and Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors despite the efforts of the Lakers to land the former Finals MVP, James was left with a mixture of veterans and young, largely unproven players.
Meanwhile, with the trade deadline drawing nearer, Anthony Davis has informed the New Orleans Pelicans and the rest of the world through his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, that he does not want to sign an extension with the team and wishes to be traded to a contender. Discussion naturally turned to the Lakers and their star small forward: Rich Paul’s most notable client, Lebron James.
However, despite Davis’s supposed desire to land with the Lakers, he might have to wait until the summer of 2020, when he is set to become a free agent, to wear the famous purple and gold. The Pelicans, along with the rest of the league, seem to have no intention of helping James and Magic resurrect one of if not basketball’s preeminent franchise.
This recent attitude towards the Lakers can be traced to last summer’s aforementioned trade of Kawhi Leonard. Despite Leonard’s reported interest in returning to his native Southern California, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs had little interest in dealing Leonard in conference, much less to a potentially ascending Los Angeles Lakers team. Instead, the Spurs traded him to the Toronto Raptors, an Eastern Conference team that was able to give the Spurs what they felt as requisite compensation, which included All-Star guard Demar Derozan in return. In a phone call earlier this week with Dell Demps, the Vice-President and General Manager of the New Orleans Pelicans and a former Spurs player, Popovich reportedly told Demps, “Don’t cave to the Los Angeles Lakers.”
By openly asking for a trade ten days before the deadline, Davis and his representatives are giving Magic Johnson what they hope will be an ample amount of time to construct a deal that will send the generational big man to Los Angeles. In order for that to happen though, the Lakers are going to have to have to part with several of their young players—possibly including some combination of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart—to go along with draft compensation and salary cap relief to get New Orleans to seriously consider moving Anthony Davis before the trade deadline.
Despite Davis’s request, the Pelicans are not under serious pressure to move him before the deadline. He is still under contract for the next year and a half, and trading him this summer would bring teams with more desirable assets such as the Boston Celtics into play, who are unable to trade for Davis until this summer, due to NBA rules limiting a team to only one trade involving a player on a Designated Player Rookie Extension Contract (Kyrie Irving was traded for in the summer of 2017 and is currently signed to a Designated Player Rookie Extension Contract).
Anthony Davis’s days as a Pelican are drawing to a close. The only real questions left to be answered are when that day will come, and whether or not his next uniform be purple and gold.
Contact Zachary Schiller at [email protected]