Pelicans owner Gayle Benson is reportedly against sending the superstar to team up with LeBron James and has been very clear with that.
“We have been told, I think, through channels — most of us have heard this same scuttlebutt — that Gayle Benson has basically told him, ‘To the Lakers, over my dead body.’”
After the report went viral, Fletcher Mackel of WDSU 6 in New Orleans asked Benson to clarify the statement Friday afternoon. She reportedly laughed and told him the original report was “totally absurd” and “completely untrue.”
Per Mackel’s report, the Pelicans organization believes the same people saying the owner won’t trade Davis to the Lakers are the ones telling media members Zion Williamson might not want to go play in New Orleans after the team won the first pick in the 2019 draft.
David Griffin took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations last month and is overseeing the Davis trade talks. Davis demanded a trade midseason to be completed by the deadline and told the team he has no intention of signing a contract extension in New Orleans. He’s under contract with the Pelicans until the 2020 offseason.
Griffin reports directly to Benson, per MacMullan, who might still not let a trade to the Lakers go forward. She fired general manager Dell Demps in February for his handling of the 26-year-old Davis after he wasn’t dealt at the deadline.
The Lakers had an offer on the table for the All-Star center and were seemingly willing to deal almost everyone on the team except James. The Pelicans were reportedly “underwhelmed” with the offer, and the Lakers pulled out of negotiations. Former Lakers president Magic Johnson later called out the Pelicans for not acting in “good faith.”
Nothing more was said by MacMullan about Benson’s flat-out refusal to ship Davis to L.A. though her reasons could include grudges, resentment and simply not wanting to see a dynamic duo in Lakers uniforms.
Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrbach listed the teams with the best packages to offer New Orleans in a trade deal, and the Lakers were second. Benson could be leaving a lot on the table with her choice — although she may not care as much now with Zion Williamson almost certain to join the Pelicans because they hold the No. 1 draft pick.
The other top landing spots for Davis, according to Rohrbach, are the Boston Celtics, who are rumored to be losing Kyrie Irving in free agency, and the New York Knicks.
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