When Anthony Davis requested a trade, the Pelicans said their decision “will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”
Davis got fined, but it’s obvious New Orleans’ ire wasn’t directed at only him. It extended to Davis’ agent (Rich Paul), LeBron James (another Paul client) and the Lakers. LeBron recently caused a stir by saying he wanted to play with Davis. The timing of Davis’ trade request, when the Celtics effectively couldn’t trade for him, seemed designed to get him to Los Angeles.
Since, negotiations between the Pelicans and Lakers have gained little to no traction. Word emerged New Orleans was unimpressed with the Lakers’ lowball offers. To avoid criticism that came with their failed pursuits of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers leaked just how strong their offer was. That meant including many names: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
Brian Windhorst was asked whether the Pelicans were so upset with the Lakers’ perceived tampering, New Orleans used trade rumors to undermine the Lakers chemistry. Windhorst on ESPN:
It’s not just possible. It’s what happened. I know that the Pelicans – how do I want to put this?
The Pelicans had a method to their madness in the way this went. Did they know it was going to lead a 40-point loss because everybody’s upset? Not necessarily.
Whether or not New Orleans deliberately attempted to undermine the Lakers’ chemistry, that appears to be the result in Los Angeles. So, if the Lakers remain largely intact through the trade deadline, how will they respond?
Will everyone re-focus once freed of the immediate distraction? Or will they resent their fungibility to the team?
The Lakers are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Extending moping could cost them the postseason. So, the stakes are high.