But that might wind up just semantics.
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.
Davis hired someone best known as LeBron James‘ agent. There are other good agents. When you want to join LeBron’s team, you hire Paul. That wasn’t necessarily Davis’ only intention when hiring Paul. But it was clear the decision greased the skids of Davis to the Lakers.
Now, the Lakers must offer New Orleans a satisfactory trade. Some contenders will still value Davis – who can make two playoff runs before his contract expires – as a rental. A team could even trade for Davis to use this season then flip him before the 2020 trade deadline and recoup some assets.
The timing of Davis’ trade request is a transparent attempt to avoid Boston. The Celtics can’t deal for Davis and keep Kyrie Irving right now, because both are Designated Rookie Scale Players. Irving’s contract status will change in July, allowing Boston to make an intriguing offer for Davis then.
But will New Orleans wait? If the Celtics believe Davis is disinclined to re-sign in 2020, will they still make a monster offer? Either way, can the Pelicans still use the threat of Boston’s massive asset pool to extract better offers elsewhere?
The Lakers have their own compelling assets – including Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and all their own future first-round picks – to use in a Davis trade. For what it’s worth, all four of those players will remain under contract in July, too. The Lakers would prefer to have Davis for a playoff push this season, though.
Obviously, New Orleans won’t directly care to send Davis to his preferred destination. But if the Lakers know Davis will re-sign, that should push them to offer more in a trade. Likewise, if other teams believe Davis won’t re-sign, that should push them to offer less in a trade. So, Davis’ desires matter.
And it seems Davis likes Los Angeles as much as LeBron likes Davis there.