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Despite offering nearly every player in their rotation not named LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly haven’t been able to even get a counter-offer in their trade talks with the Pelicans about Anthony Davis. They reportedly aren’t very confident that will change between now and Thursday.
The Lakers are “running low on hope” that the Pelicans will engage them again for Davis after a day of silence between Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
It’s hard to blame the Lakers for going silent at this point. What else is there to do after reportedly offering all five of the young assets mentioned in talks so far, salary relief and multiple first-rounders. Going further than that would expose the team to possibly going through a Brooklyn Nets-ian dark age of non-contending humiliation if their new core’s competitive viability didn’t last as long as expected.
Most signs point to Davis wanting to land in Los Angeles, but his team doesn’t seem thrilled over the idea of letting that happen without receiving a ludicrous amount of assets in return (though it’s arguable the Lakers’ last offer constituted that).
Are the Pelicans deliberately sabotaging the Lakers?
One possible reason why the Pelicans have rebuffed every advance from the Lakers: they never intended to give Davis to the Lakers in the first place.
When asked if the Pelicans intentionally dragged out trade talks and sowed discord among the young Lakers in a Machiavellian revenge scheme for what they perceived as tampering with their star player, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said “it’s not just possible, it’s what happened.”
If that’s true and the Pelicans did all this in bad faith, then … wow. It might hurt them in trade talks with other team who see their negotiations as less credible, but that would be one of the NBA’s great revenge stories.
Anthony Davis reportedly not interested in extension anywhere
Further complicating trade talks, beyond, you know, the possible sabotage, are reports from The New York Times’ Marc Stain that Davis prefers to hit free agency in 2020 rather than sign a long-term extension with whatever team trades for him. He also reports that Davis would want to play out the rest of the season in New Orleans if he isn’t traded.
That would likely hamper the Lakers’ interest in Davis, as trading away your entire young core for a player who might leave after one season is an extraordinarily risky move, even if the Pelicans really were serious in discussions. Per the Los Angeles Times, there’s also a strong belief in the league that the Lakers’ offer won’t get any better this summer.
If the deadline indeed comes and goes without a Davis deal, that would allow the Boston Celtics, considered by many to be the team most capable of putting together the best offer for Davis, to enter the fray. The draft lottery could also provide more clarity for what the Pelicans are receiving in exchange for their generational talent.
However, Davis seems especially not interested in signing long-term with the Celtics, though that position is weakened if he just doesn’t plan to sign long-term with anyone.
What started as a trade request with an intended Los Angeles destination has now turned into a mess of demands and possible bad blood. And it might be months before it’s all over.
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