NBA rumors: Pelicans not returning Lakers' calls on AD trade

2 years ago via ESPN
As the NBA trade deadline looms within a week, the Lakers’ immediate pursuit of All-Star forward Anthony Davis is fraught with obstacles — including the fact that New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has yet to return a call to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, league sources told ESPN. The sluggish response time is perhaps a message that New Orleans places some responsibility on the Lakers for Davis’ trade request, or perhaps an indication to Davis and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, that the franchise doesn’t plan to easily acquiesce on a trade request to partner with LeBron James.

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Demps is picking up his phone and returning calls -- just not from the Lakers, sources said. From Paul George to Leonard to Davis, the Lakers' front office is growing accustomed to icy receptions from teams enduring All-Star trade demands with a full year left on their contracts.
With Boston prohibited from trading for Davis this season, going to the Lakers presents Davis a chance to make something of this 2018-19 season. The Celtics and other suitors are curious as to whether the potential Lakers-or-bust stance softens once the deadline passes, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “Essentially, having Boston in the bidding, who is the team with the most draft picks, several outstanding young players and a really motivated team to try to acquire Anthony Davis it only elevates everyone else’s offers in the trade process and Boston is going to be there. And I think, Boston has sent a message to the Pelicans, ‘Be patient. Wait for us, we are going to be in this and we’re going to be willing to talk about essentially everyone on our roster outside of Kyrie Irving.’ So, I think right now it’s put New Orleans very much in a holding pattern and it’s really dampened the possibility of the [Los Angeles] Lakers being able to do what they’d love to do, is get a deal done prior to the trade deadline. New Orleans has no interest in acquiescing Anthony Davis to the Lakers right now.”

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The question is whether the Lakers, the team that drafted the 6-foot-9 kid with the 7-foot-3 wingspan out of Duke three years ago, will continue to be good to him or if he will become part of a package to try to pry Davis from New Orleans by the Feb. 7 trade deadline. Lakers coach Luke Walton did not address the situation with the entire team Monday, a team source told ESPN. However, Walton has had several individual conversations about it with his players, much the same way he did with players last season when the specter of landing James became an elephant in the room and eventually led to the cap-clearing trade at the deadline that sent Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to, coincidentally, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Paul did not give the Pelicans a list of desired destinations, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, but that move could be coming soon. And yes, all signs continue to point to Davis’ strong preference being the Lakers as the leader in that clubhouse.
Chris Haynes first addressed whether he thinks the Lakers might be able to deal for Davis before the NBA trade deadline: “I don’t see that right now. I mean, if you look at (the Pelicans’) statement, they’re still on the league about looking into tampering charges and so there’s bad blood. I was talking with somebody earlier and they brought up Gregg Popovich, how he was not going to trade Kawhi to the Lakers, and I said ‘this is different. It’s a little bit deeper even than that.’
The Lakers are expected to talk with the Pelicans soon, league sources said. After agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports told ESPN on Monday that he had informed the Pelicans that Davis wouldn't sign an extension this summer and wanted a trade, multiple league sources expect the agent and star to soon deliver word throughout the league that Davis' preferred destination is the Lakers and he'll become a rental player until 2020 with a trade anywhere else.
There have been rumblings since early January that Davis would request a trade by the end of the month, but front-office executives I spoke with still find the timing to be curious. One factor is clear, though: By requesting a trade now through his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the window has been pried open for the Lakers to at least have a shot at landing Davis. The longer this drama drags along, the harder it will be for the Lakers, because teams like the Celtics, Knicks, and maybe others will be able to tap into different resources. The Lakers’ brass of Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson will be aggressive in pushing for a deal now, per league sources, knowing that if they wait, they will likely lose Davis.
Teams such as the Knicks and Davis’s hometown Chicago Bulls are among the many clubs expected to join the Lakers in pursuing a trade for Davis over the days leading to the 3 p.m. trade deadline on Feb. 7. Yet it might behoove New Orleans to wait until May to get serious about dealing its best player.
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are preparing to make offers for New Orleans Pelicans superstar forward Anthony Davis, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Lakers’ brass had a meeting Monday morning in large part to coordinate the franchise’s plans, sources said.
The New Orleans Pelicans are open to trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers – but it’ll come at a hefty price. According to sources unauthorized to speak publicly on the deal, a Lakers offer for Davis would have to start with Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick. Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans last week.
In recent weeks, the Lakers have been adamant internally that they would not trade Ball. It’s unclear if that stance has changed now that Davis could be available. The Lakers’ planned to meet Monday morning to discuss their options. According to sources, Paul has not given the Pelicans a list of preferred destinations, but he will inform interested teams whether or not Davis would sign an extension with them if they were to trade for him.
The immediate problem is that Davis is still under contract with the Pelicans, and though he has told the team he won’t sign an extension and has requested a trade, there’s no guarantee the Pels will proceed with that request in the next 10 days, when the trade deadline hits. As one league source told Sporting News on Monday, "I don’t think the guys in New Orleans care that Davis or the Lakers or anyone want to get this done quickly."
"They are not going to hurry through this. There’s no need for that. You have a top-five player in the league. Dell (Demps, the New Orleans general manager) is a pretty careful guy, and even if he gets told from above to make a trade, he can make the case that they should make it in the offseason. "He might get fired in all this, but still, he’d be right to tell them to wait."
This is an opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to be aggressive in offering a package for Davis prior to Boston's inclusion into talks. Paul also represents Lakers star LeBron James, and the Lakers have been determined to acquire Davis in a deal, league sources said.
If the Lakers’ hoped-for deal for Anthony Davis becomes reality, Lonzo Ball is likely, or all but certain, to go to New Orleans. Assuming the Lakers want a third superstar with LeBron James and AD—from a list starting with Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson—they have to slice more than $20 million off next season’s cap, which could go to New Orleans in a trade for Davis. Aside from James’ $37.4 million, two Lakers will make more than $2.1 million: Ball at $8.7 million, and Brandon Ingram at $7.3 million... making the young players likely, or all but certain, to be in any deal for AD.
In chasing Davis, the Lakers may need a push from his agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents James. "I'd say if the [Philadelphia 76ers offer Ben] Simmons, or with the [Boston] Celtics' package of picks and young players, the Lakers would probably be third," the former executive said. "One would think that [Pelicans general manager] Dell [Demps] would want a deal done around the draft [with Boston's picks]."
Warriors. Anthony Davis. I'm throwing this out there, I'm not basing this on anything, but a sleeper team, Golden State for Anthony Davis. Chris Haynes: "That rumor's been around for some time, and I think Tim Kawakami of the Athletic in the Bay Area started the reporting on that. And I think there was something to that. I'll say this: I think things have changed a little bit now that Anthony Davis is repped by Rich Paul, who happens to be LeBron James' agent. So I think [those rumors] had more juice this time last year, to go in that direction. I would be surprised if Golden State would be able to enter the field... to picking up AD. I think the Lakers have a legitimate shot. I think Boston is definitely gonna be in there. I can't see Golden State picking that up. It would be mighty difficult - it's just a lot of things have changed since then."
In the aftermath of LeBron James' public comments on the possibility of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis joining him on the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA sent a memo to NBA teams that warned of consequences for orchestrated tampering campaigns of players under contract elsewhere. In a memo obtained by ESPN on Friday morning, league counsel seemed to be alluding to the James' scenario, saying, "employment contracts are to be respected and conduct that interferes with contractual employment relationships is prohibited.
Several small market general managers told ESPN last week that they reached out to Pelicans GM Dell Demps to express dismay over what they perceive as the NBA's tacit endorsement of James' comments to ESPN that it would be "amazing" and "incredible" if the Lakers could somehow acquire Davis, a five-time All-Star who is currently under contract with the Pelicans through the 2019-20 season. "It's New Orleans' problem today, and a problem with a different player tomorrow for the rest of us," one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. "It's open season on small markets and our players."
Whatever is happening between Davis and the Pelicans is only a little about market size. Davis has not yet told those close to him that he is dead set on the Lakers or any other specific team should he decide to leave, according to a source familiar with his thinking. He does not appear ready to demand a trade. All of that could, of course, change at any moment. Regardless: There is no denying the importance of this story. Any trade over the next year involving Davis might be the single most important trade of an NBA veteran since the Lakers acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Milwaukee in 1975. (Kevin Pelton once tackled this question from a more analytics-infused perspective.)
Rachel Nichols: Let's talk about other guys who might want to play with you. You said recently that it would be "amazing" if the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis. Have you talked to Lakers management about putting together a "Godfather" offer to get AD? LeBron James: I have not. I have not, to be honest. And it wasn't brought to me as trading for Anthony Davis; the way it was brought to me was, how would it feel if Anthony Davis was a part of this franchise, and I was, like, duh! It would be amazing. I mean, come on now. Stevie Wonder can see that. Let's not get it twisted. It would be unbelievable to have a 25-year old superstar in the prime of his career come here. We saw what happened when Shaq came here from Orlando. I mean, that's what the Lakers do -- they go get out the big fish.
Combine that with the fact Davis signed with the Klutch agency that also represents James before the start of the season, and it is little wonder that the rumor mill is in overdrive. "I definitely get the sense (it is in the works)," Garnett laughed. "This is the craziest (expletive) I have ever seen. Rich Paul, LeBron’s best (expletive) friend is representing him? Come on, man."
If Davis indicates that he won't extend, the Pelicans may find a trade is the only answer, lest they lose one of the league's elite players without any compensation. The buzz in Las Vegas, where most of the league's executives gathered over the past few days for the NBA G League Winter Showcase, is that Davis will end up with either the Boston Celtics or Lakers before the 2019-20 season. "It's a renewal of the NBA's great rivalries, just not on the court but behind the scenes," one executive said.
The primary link to the Lakers is Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who is the player agent for both James and Davis. That connection is a conflict of interest, at least in the view of several teams. "I'm not worried about James tampering to the media about AD. It's that James and Paul are mafioso mob bosses of the NBA that's the problem," a Western Conference general manager said.
"I wouldn't lock the Lakers in for AD," a front-office executive said. "Davis will have a lot of options if he wants to leave New Orleans." The Celtics may not have the cap space to renegotiate his contract, but by virtue of his trade bonus, they could get within $18 million of the supermax, with Davis re-signing again in 2022. Given the available options, Davis can afford to turn away a massive offer from the Pelicans.
With the Pelicans staying overnight before traveling to Sacramento, James and Davis met up for a postgame dinner in Los Angeles, league sources told Yahoo Sports. If Davis desires to be a member of the Lakers, it’s only a matter of time before he’s eventually sporting the purple and gold. Davis is in complete control of his destiny, and it may lead him directly to Southern California.
The Designated Player Veteran Extension was intended to increase the likelihood of franchise players staying with their current teams. However, for the Pelicans’ superstar and the representation he hired in September — Klutch Sports, which also represents James — the lucrative incentive won’t factor much into his decision on whether the 6-foot-10 star will commit long term to New Orleans, as The Athletic reported Friday. Davis wants to compete for championships for years to come. If Davis is of the mindset that New Orleans can’t surround him with the talent to contend, the DPVE won’t be viewed as much of a sweetener.
“I’d take legacy over money,” Davis told Yahoo Sports after posting game highs of 30 points and 20 rebounds to go with five assists in Friday’s loss. “I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time.”
The L.A. market is alluring and Davis is intrigued. Earlier this year, he purchased a $7.5 million home in Westlake Village in Los Angeles County. Furthermore, his profile and Nike presence would presumably grow in L.A. The Lakers are a legitimate threat to pry Davis from the Pelicans. And if that’s what he wants, as many believe, there really will be no stopping him.
Speaking with reporters Friday after the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-104 win over New Orleans, James was asked if he erred when he told ESPN's Dave McMenamin this week that it would be "amazing" to play with Davis some day. Told that some felt it was wrong for James to talk about another player under contract, James replied, "So?" "What'd I do?" James said. "What did I do? Was it right or wrong?"
"Ask me if I'd like to play with Jimmy Butler," James said. "Say it right now. Ask me about Kyrie Irving, Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid, Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now. "Come on, guys, this is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely. I would love to play with a lot of great players. That is just who I am. People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can't control me, at all. "And I play by the rules."

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Here’s why: While the Pelicans continue to say they won’t trade him, a strong offer might force an early conversation between Davis and team officials about his eventual intentions. It’s the absence of clarity on that front, in essence, that is buoying New Orleans’ hope that he might stay. What’s more, the Lakers have a competitive edge over Davis’ other known suitor, the Boston Celtics, that is getting smaller by the day.
New Orleans Pelicans’ fans, you’re about to be inundated with Anthony Davis trade talk. As if Friday night’s 9:30 p.m. tipoff against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers wasn’t enough of a storyline setup, the game is broadcast on ESPN and comes in the midst of New Orleans’ most mediocre month. But, before tuning in, keep this in mind.
Based on multiple sources, the Pelicans have no intention of trading Davis this season. By all current indications, the superstar will have to expressly turn down a five-year, $239 million offer that would make him the richest player in NBA history. It’s nearly $35 million more than he can get anywhere else. And if Davis decides to decline it, only then will this whole conversation cross the line from possibility to reality. That’s not until July. But, be prepared.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday knows his team’s best hope to championship contention is coveted by the competition. “I mean, everybody wants to [have Davis on their team],” Holiday said. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t. To us, he’s our franchise player. He’s top three in the world.” Is it distracting to hear and read media speculation about Davis potentially leaving? “Nah. I feel like, y’all hear it. We don’t really hear it,” Holiday said. “The only teams I know about is Boston and the Lakers. But again, we don’t really pay attention to that.”
Anthony Davis is aware of LeBron James' fawning comments to ESPN about him this week, but Davis is doing his best to block out all the noise about his contract situation with the New Orleans Pelicans. "I don't really care," Davis told ESPN of James' comments Wednesday night after the Pelicans' 123-115 loss to the Bucks. "Obviously, it's cool to hear any high-caliber player say they want to play with me. But my job is to turn this team around. If we're 15-17, that means I'm not doing my job."
Ahead of Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time this season on Friday, LeBron James openly pondered what having the All-Star forward alongside him in purple and gold at Staples Center would be like. "That would be amazing," James told ESPN on Tuesday before the Lakers' 115-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, referring to the Lakers landing Davis through a trade. "That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible."
James had Davis on his mind after seeing ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski laying out the Lakers' trade priorities in a segment that aired on Tuesday's SportsCenter. "They're not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season because they've got to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer pre- or post-free agency," Wojnarowski said. "That's why they've looked at players who are on one-year deals who don't have money going forward."
Which is why, when reports that the Lakers would not include any of their young core in a trade for Trevor Ariza came out, it fit with the Lakers’ long-term thinking. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN discussed this on a special trade season preview broadcast Saturday morning (transcription via Real GM). “Here’s the line [the Lakers] have to walk: they’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season because they have to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer either pre or post free agency… “The absolute dream scenario, people talk about (how) they can trade for Anthony Davis or sign a free agent. The dream scenario is they do both.”
The speculation isn’t expected to cool down, with Davis recently hiring Rich Paul of Klutch Sports — the same agent who reps LeBron James — to represent him. In the summer, the Lakers will be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of high-caliber stars to pair with James in the free-agent and trade markets. Boston, Golden State, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers will also be some of the teams monitoring Davis’ situation, sources told Yahoo Sports.
He seems so loyal to New Orleans, but hiring Rich Paul (LeBron's agent from Klutch Sports) was a major red flag for the Pelicans. The Lakers seem like the no-brainer move, either via trade this summer or free agency in two summers.
Insiders think that’s what Davis is doing, with the firing of agent Thad Foucher and hiring of Rich Paul, LeBron’s close friend and agent, all about the possibility of going to the Lakers. “Why else did AD do it?” asks an East GM. “Things are going great for him. The team is going good. He got the Derrick Rose extension [a five-year $150 million deal that each team is allowed to offer one player on his rookie contract.] “It’s not because of race. Thad Foucher is an Afro-American. It’s not because of agency. Thad Foucher is from the Wasserman Group and has Russell Westbrook. So why did he do it?”
Paul George, who forced Indiana to trade him a year before his contract expired, is the most recent example of stars maneuvering early to preserve their status as “Lary Bird players,” remaining eligible for maximum dollars. Insiders think that’s what Davis is doing, with the move to Klutch Sports all about the possibility of going to the Lakers. “Why else did he do it?” an East GM asked. “Things are going great for him. The team is going good. He got the Derrick Rose extension (a five-year $150 million deal that each team is allowed to offer one player on his rookie contract). “It’s not because of race. Thad Foucher is an Afro-American. It’s not because of agency. Thad Foucher is from the Wasserman Group and has Russell Westbrook. So why did he do it?”
In addition, recent reports claim Davis is eyeing the Lakers as well as other teams such as the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks. The Chicago native joked he had no idea how the rumors started but isn't paying attention to them for now. "You hear it everywhere, it's funny, how did that [Lakers rumors] even happen? How does that correlate?" Davis asked with a laugh. "You know, in my head, I don't pay attention to it, I keep going back to it but it's the truth, I look at what I have now and what I can do now and that's helping my team win." "You can't listen to what somebody else is saying, all the white noise, 'AD's going here, AD's going here,' — AD's playing for the Pelicans this year... the rest will take care of itself," he said.
Even though Rich Paul is doing his part to slow the speculation that his new client Anthony Davis could join his biggest client LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers, that’s not stopping people from putting money down on the possibility. According to the online sportsbook Bovada, the Lakers are the favorite to have Anthony Davis on their squad at the start of the 2019-20 season.
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December 3, 2020 | 8:00 am EST Update
Davis, a free agent, is expected to sign the contract as soon as Thursday. He considered several short- and long-term contract scenarios before accepting a full five-year, maximum offer, sources said. At 27 years old, Davis is the co-star of the Lakers with LeBron James — and the centerpiece of the franchise’s long-term future. Davis’ arrival in a trade with New Orleans to join James elevated the Lakers out of six straight seasons in the draft lottery and hurtled them toward an eventual 2019-20 NBA championship.
December 3, 2020 | 6:23 am EST Update
Leonsis had also come to believe that Wall was, often if not always, “too cool for school,” in his thinking. And, the shirtless video of Wall at a party this summer, flashing gang signs, was the last straw. (Again, as I wrote two weeks ago: Leonsis was a thousand percent right in being furious with his 30-year-old face of the franchise for doing such a dumb thing.) This was not a decision that could be made by GM Tommy Sheppard, or his equivalent in Houston, Rafael Stone. “At the end of the day, this is a Ted call,” one source said.
A lot of people — a lot — who’ve been in D.C. more than 10 minutes, and who have roots here, came to love Wall, what he did for poor people and families in the parts of town many don’t care about. How he was clearly flawed but owned it, how he wore his heart on his sleeve and cried openly — when he signed his max extension, when his mother was sick, when a little girl he’d befriended died. And how he played in the playoffs with a broken hand, and how he led Washington to within a game of the Eastern Conference finals, and jumped on the scorer’s table after winning that Game 6 in 2017 over Boston, and how the crowd roared that night, having a legit contender in town for the first time in God knows how long, and the point guard and the crowd both hoping the night, and the feeling that washed over the building, would never end.
Today, Junior’s net worth is an estimated $600 million, and he is listed as the second wealthiest NBA player behind none other than Michael Jordan. Money is not everything, yes, but in today’s climate, it’s necessary to detail how a man from humble beginnings in Indiana obtained a heightened level of success without a major shoe deal, making no more than $350,000 in any of his 12 NBA seasons playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers. Don’t get it confused: Junior was no slouch on the court. At 6-5 and with a silky-smooth jumper, he was a back-to-back Missouri Valley Player of the Year, reached the Final Four at Louisville, was drafted No. 8 overall in the 1975 NBA draft and was one of the best sixth men of his era. His No. 2 jersey is raised in the rafters of the Milwaukee Bucks’ arena.
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