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Magic Johnson: Former Pelicans GM Dell Demps leaked Anthony Davis trade-talk details

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The Pelicans reportedly blame the Lakers for details of Anthony Davis trade negotiations leaking.

Former Lakers president Magic Johnson blames former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps.

Johnson on ESPN:

I told Dell Demps, “Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.” Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out.”

The Lakers have intriguing assets – Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick, all their own future first-round picks. Los Angeles will likely try again to land Davis.

Johnson and Demps are out. So, maybe these sour grapes don’t matter.

But enough people remain in each organization – including Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, whom Johnson blasted today – from those winter trade talks. Whether or not there’s an edict in New Orleans forbidding new lead executive David Griffin from sending Davis to the Lakers, there’s clearly mistrust between these franchises. That makes it harder to reach a deal.

Report: Pelicans owner Gayle Benson would trade Anthony Davis to Lakers ‘over my dead body’

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Update: Gayle Benson denied this.

 

The Pelicans reportedly completely opposed trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers, his preferred destination.

But that was before New Orleans hired David Griffin to run the front office.

It wasn’t totally clear who within the Pelicans was against even considering a Lakers offer and whether that person/those people still hold power. Former New Orleans general manager Dell Demps appeared to have a strained relationship with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. Mickey Loomis, an executive who oversaw both the Pelicans and Saints, came up in football. With a background in a sport where players have far less power, he might have dug in his heels about Davis getting his way.

But Pelicans owner Gayle Benson fired Demps and said the new lead executive would report directly to her, not to Loomis.

So, will anyone left in New Orleans stop a trade of Davis to the Lakers?

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

We have been told, I think, through channels – most of us have heard this same scuttlebutt – that Gayle Benson has basically told him, “To the Lakers, over my dead body.”

If this is how Benson feels, she’s making a mistake. If trading Davis, the Pelicans should take the best offer they can get – no matter which team makes it.

That might be the Lakers, who can send some combination of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and the No. 4 pick. Other teams – looking at you, Celtics – have better assets. But it’s unclear which of those assets will be on the table.

If the Lakers make what he deems to be the best offer, Griffin has the responsibility of convincing Benson to approve it. It’s tough to predict his likelihood of success, considering we don’t know precisely why she’s so against trading Davis to Los Angeles.

Does she just not want Davis to get his way? Does she resent how Davis and his agent Rich Paul, who also represents Lakers superstar LeBron James, handled this situation? Does she envy the Lakers’ big market and all the advantages that affords them (like becoming Davis’ preferred destination)? Something else entirely?

Before trying to convince Benson, Griffin is still tryingand so far failing – to convince Davis to stay. Only if that fails will he then work on Benson.

And of course only if the Lakers make the best offer.

Rumor: Team promised to draft Darius Garland

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Of course, the Pelicans will draft Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick.

The Grizzlies will reportedly take Ja Morant No. 2.

Could Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland also already be slotted for a certain pick?

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Do these teams have more specific intel? Because my first hunch when a player who missed most of the prior season with a knee injury leaves the combine isn’t that he got promised. It’s that he wants to hide the extent of his injury.

But if Garland received a promise, who made it? Let’s go through the next set of picks:

3. Knicks

This seems too high. R.J. Barrett is the consensus third-best prospect in the draft. It’s tough to see New York promising Garland, especially with Dennis Smith Jr. already there.

4. Lakers

The Lakers will generate a lot of speculation, because Garland shares an agent – Rich Paul – with LeBron James. The Klutch connection getting Garland to Los Angeles is certainly juicy. Garland even might be the right pick here. He could be the fourth-best prospect in this draft. For a point guard, he’d fit fine with Lonzo Ball and LeBron James. But this seems too high to promise him already.

5. Cavaliers

They have Collin Sexton, and while Sexton – despite his incredible in-season improvement last season – shouldn’t preclude Cleveland drafting another point guard, he probably does. At minimum, he makes it less likely the Cavs zero in on another point guard this early in the pre-draft process.

6. Suns

The Suns badly needs a point guard. But they apparently didn’t promise him. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

7. Bulls

This is my guess. They need a point guard after Kris Dunn hasn’t seized the starting-point-guard job as hoped. There’s also circumstantial evidence they use promises as a draft tool. A team reportedly promised to draft Chandler Hutchinson in the first round last year, and speculation centered on Chicago. The Bulls took Hutchinson No. 22.

8. Hawks

With Trae Young in Atlanta, nope.

9. Wizards

John Wall will probably miss next season, and Tomas Satoransky will be a restricted free agent this summer. But Wall still has three super-max-salaried years beyond this season, and Washington should try to re-sign Satoransky. Though the Wizards need another point guard for next season, a rookie probably isn’t the answer, and a highly drafted one brings long-term complications. If Garland fell this far, he could be good value, anyway. But for that same reason, I’m doubtful he’d leave the combine to help ensure he got drafted No. 9.

That concern is only heightened further down the board.

LeBron on his reaction to Magic stepping down: ‘We were like, ‘Damn, right now?’’

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Nobody saw this coming.

Not owner Jeanie Buss, not GM Rob Pelinka, not coach Luke Walton — nobody expected Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation from the Lakers just before the end of the season.

That includes LeBron James (as NBC and others reported at the time). LeBron opened up about what happened for the first time on his HBO show “The Shop” (which will air in repeats all week, check your listings).

“Personally, for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization having a conversation with Magic. So it was just weird for [Johnson] to just be like, ‘Nah, I’m out of here.’ And not even have no like [LeBron acts like he’s taking a phone call]: ‘Hey, Bron, kiss my a** I’m gone.’ It wasn’t even that.”

Later in The Shop LeBron says:

“We were like, ‘Damn, right now?’ It was literally 70 minutes on the clock before [the game starts]… And you decide to do that right here, right now? I feel like there’s a time and place for things, and I believe that you knew you were going to make that decision. So why would you do it here? And why would you do it now?”

A lot of people were asking that question.

Lonzo Ball said on this same episode of The Shop he found out from LeBron (and LeBron found out from his close friend just more than an hour before a Lakers game, which is when Magic made his announcement).

Magic handled this poorly. To put it kindly. S*** show would be another way. The Lakers have given power to Rob Pelinka, who is leading the effort to hire the next coach — which is all but certain be Tyronn Lue, LeBron’s old coach in Cleveland and someone he trusts.

Magic’s move and the fallout are not exactly going to inspire confidence in the free agents the Lakers are trying to recruit this summer. What the Lakers still do have is LeBron and the chance to play — and probably win a fair amount — with him. We’ll see if that’s enough.

Report: Lakers have no plans to replace Magic Johnson, who’ll still help team recruit FAs

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Magic Johnson’s stunning resignation as Lakers president caused a commotion.

It didn’t create a power vacuum.

Rob Pelinka is clearly in charge. He’s the highest-ranking member of the front office. His title – general manager – is the one many teams give to the leader of their basketball operations. He’s running the Lakers’ coaching search.

Though they’ve been linked to big-name candidates for president, the Lakers could easily keep the status quo with Pelinka running the show. And it sounds as if that’s what Lakers owner Jeanie Buss will do.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer.

Allowing Pelinka to hire a head coach – which, again, he’s in the process of doing – then supplanting him would be absurd. At least it seems the Lakers aren’t doing that.

But Pelinka was part of the organization while it made a comedy of errors. The former agent also had front-office experience until getting hired with Johnson a couple years ago. It’s hard to believe he’s the right choice to lead the team as it enters this critical stage.

LeBron James is 34. The Lakers will have max cap space this summer. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are progressing toward establishing clearer value – one way or the other.

To entrust Pelinka in this situation, Buss ought to have a clear explanation for why Pelinka doesn’t deserve a fair share of blame for all the mistakes that occurred the last couple years. There are plenty of people, inside and outside the Lakers, who question him.

The wildest part about this report: Johnson still helping the Lakers recruit this summer. He’s an all-time great player and charismatic. But he also just said while resigning:

What I didn’t like is the backstabbing, the whispering. I don’t like that. I don’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on.

How will he sell that to free agents – especially if Pelinka, suspected to be whom Johnson is referring to, remains in charge?