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Magic Johnson backtracks on hugging untraded Lakers


The Lakers didn’t trade for Anthony Davis before Thursday’s deadline.

The Lakers did have most of their roster – Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac (who got sent to the Clippers in another deal), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley – named in reports of Los Angeles’ offers to the Pelicans.

That appeared to take a toll on the Lakers’ chemistry. So, Lakers president Magic Johnson met with the team Sunday.

But his tone before and after differed significantly.

Johnson on Saturday, via Larry Lage of the Associated Press

“It’s a part of business, it’s a part of being a professional athlete,” he said Saturday. “I’m going to hug ’em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”

Johnson on Sunday, via ESPN:

I’m not that guy. I’m not the guy who, “Ohhhh, I’m going to hold. I’m going to go up and hug guys.” I’m not that dude.

Quit making this about thinking these guys are babies, because that’s what you’re treating them like. They’re professionals. All of them. And this is how this league works. They know it. I know it. That’s how it goes.

What’s worse, your team trying to trade you for a superstar or your boss pledging to hug you then rescinding the offer? Either way, tough times for Lakers players.

Rajon Rondo hits buzzer-beater as Lakers gut Celtics (VIDEO)

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The Los Angeles Lakers did not trade half of their roster on Thursday afternoon for Anthony Davis. On Thursday night, that at least appeared to be the right call in the short-term.

In a tight game on TNT, the Lakers ground down to the wire against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Boston’s Jayson Tatum hit a go-ahead shot with less than 20 seconds to go, leaving it up to the Lakers to score with the shot clock turned off.

Things did not look rosy after Brandon Ingram drove to the basket and wound up getting blocked on a reverse attempt by Al Horford. Both teams then struggled to grab the loose ball, but eventually Rajon Rondo wound up with it.

Then, against his former team, Rondo hit a game winner.

Does this mean more unity for Los Angeles moving forward? Who is to say? Lakers fans might need to remember this one for a while.

Rumor: Pelicans tried to sabotage Lakers’ chemistry through Anthony Davis trade rumors

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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.

While trade talks unfolded, Lakers veterans feuded with Luke Walton. The Lakers lost by 42 to the Pacers.

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.

Lakers finding Pelicans in no rush to trade Anthony Davis; deal unlikely before deadline

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From the day that it became public that Anthony Davis‘ agent had told the Pelicans the All-NBA big man would not re-sign with the team and wanted a trade, I have reported at NBC my sources have said the Pelicans were in no rush to make a trade. Particularly with the Lakers. For a variety of reasons ranging from wanting Boston and other teams involved in the bidding to not wanting to give in to pressure tactics to help the biggest brand in the NBA form a super team. That has not changed.

Another report echoing those comments came out Monday night, the same day there more talks between the Lakers’ Magic Johnson and the Pelicans’ GM Dell Demps. From Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

What do the Pelicans want? How about four first-round picks, plus players.

While there is some “small market not going to be forced into anything by powerful agent/big market” thing going on, my sources say the biggest issue is they don’t love the Lakers’ young players. Los Angeles has reportedly offered Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and some expiring contract veterans (Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley), plus a couple first-round picks for Davis and the bad contract of Solomon Hill. The Pelicans want a future multiple time All-Star/All-NBA level player back, and they do not see that in the Lakers’ offer.

Boston has that guy in Jayson Tatum, although whether they will put him in a trade is complicated (and could in part depend on what Kyrie Irving decides to do this summer). Boston’s ultimate plan remains to pair Davis and Irving, but the path to that is much tougher than it seemed just a few weeks ago.

Davis reportedly will sign an extension if traded to Milwaukee or the Los Angeles Clippers as well, but those teams are not actively bidding for him. Another surprise suitor could jump in the mix but there is little talk of that right now.

Whatever happens with Davis, expect it to drag out past the NBA Draft Lottery at least, and maybe into July. Davis will get traded — maybe even to the Lakers. Just not by Thursday (the trade deadline).

Report: Lakers offering eight players for Anthony Davis

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The Lakers reportedly improved their offer for Anthony Davis.

How much?

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The deal could include Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac and Moritz Wagner. It could include additional picks and pick swaps.

But that’s nearly everything Los Angeles could send the Pelicans.

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram are young players with positive value. The first-rounders obviously hold positive value. Solomon Hill (guaranteed $12,758,781 next season) carries negative value, and New Orleans would like to unload him. Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasley have neutral-value expiring contracts to facilitate the trade.

Still, this offer doesn’t make Davis-to-Los Angeles a forgone conclusion. A few questions remain: Do the the Pelicans hold interest in those young Lakers? What years are the picks, and how are they protected? What offers have other teams made?

But this offer could easily put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis.