The facts: Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich vigorously criticized the perceived meager package the Lakers sent the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol in 2008. San Antonio dealt Leonard to the Raptors, an Eastern Conference team.
So, whether or not Popovich’s grudge against the Lakers is as significant as some believe, that perception at least fits reality.
In that backdrop comes a rumor about Popovich talking to Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, a former Spurs executive. Demps of course is now tasked with handling Davis’ trade request and reported desire to join the Lakers.
Stephen A. Smith on ESPN, as transcribed by Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio:
“I’ve been told that one of the people that Dell Demps has communicated with is Gregg Popovich. Not for trade talks or anything but a guy like Gregg Popovich has said, ‘Don’t cave to the Los Angeles Lakers.'”
In other words like we did it for Kawhi Leonard.
Don’t think for one second you have to be compelled to move Anthony Davis now. You can wait and that’s what he’s been telling Dell Demps.
This is the type of thing people believe because it sounds as if it could be true and it’s juicy. That doesn’t necessarily make it true.
The conversation could have been more benign, Popovich merely advising Demps not to feel pressured to send Davis anywhere specific.
Or it could have been Popovich trying to keep down a bitter rival. Or something in between.
The Pelicans shouldn’t rush to trade Davis to the Lakers. New Orleans should try to get the best offer for Davis, whether that’s from Los Angeles or elsewhere. If the Pelicans needed Popovich to tell them that, they have even bigger problems.
But if Popovich interjected just to spite the Lakers, even if his advice were superfluous, that’d be a huge reflection of the Spurs-Lakers rivalry – at least from San Antonio.