Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss denied on Saturday that her team ever was planning to trade away the “entire roster” for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis last month, calling those reports “fake news” while speaking at the MIT/Sloan Analytics Conference in Boston.
The highly-publicized trade talks between the Lakers and the Pelicans last month didn’t cumulate with any deal before the trade deadline. However Buss blamed the media and what she called “fake news” for damaging the team chemistry in the locker room.
"The biggest challenge for (us is) the 'fake news' about how we were supposedly trading our entire roster for a certain player, which is completely not true,” Buss said at a panel discussion at the event, via ESPN. “But those stories leak out and it hurt our young players. It wasn't fair. (Lakers president Magic Johnson) got in front of that, and I think we're back on the right track. Hopefully, that will allow us to make a playoff push coming up here."
The Lakers reportedly made multiple different offers to the Pelicans for Davis, all of which included the bulk of their young core of players in some form —fg including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Ivica Zubac and Josh Hart. While they weren’t technically offering their “entire roster” for one player, as Buss said, the Lakers did reportedly put a lot on the table to attempt to land Davis.
The Lakers have slid fast in the standings since LeBron James’ injury on Christmas Day. They currently hold a 30-32 record and sit No. 10 in the Western Conference standings, putting the team at a very high risk of missing the postseason.
Part of the team’s struggle, Buss said, was due to media reports about the trade.
"There's always a love-hate relationship with the media when you're on this side of the business," Buss said, via ESPN. "The media, for example, there was a lot of hype and things written about a potential trade leading into the trade deadline — all of it false. But it got a lot of coverage.
"There's damage that's done to team chemistry when players have to read about all this — that is, to me, it's irresponsible and frustrating because it puts feelings that your players have (at risk) and you can't avoid it. It's part of the landscape that we deal with."
The incredibly public process, however, was fueled in part by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson. At one point just after the trade deadline, Johnson even slammed the Pelicans leadership and said they operated in bad faith during negotiations.
Despite her outspoken executive — who has been fined by the league for tampering in the past, and was looked into this season for that same violation — Buss defended Johnson.
"He's a very personable guy, and when he does interviews, he likes to say too much because that's who he is," Buss said, via ESPN. "But he's evolved as an executive. He knows what he needs to do now. We want Magic out there. We don't want him to not be himself and not be the face of the franchise because he is."
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