When Anthony Davis demanded a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans back in January, the Los Angeles Lakers immediately jumped out as a frontrunner to land the former Wildcat.
At the time, the connections made sense. Davis has reportedly been friends with Lakers star LeBron James for several years now, both parties share the same agent, and each team has trade pieces that the other would likely be interested in. For the Lakers, they can pair Davis and James together to give the franchise two of the top five players in the league. For the Pelicans, a mix of young talent in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and draft picks, giving them a solid jump to their rebuild.
While it seemed to be a solid trade match, the Pelicans refused to entertain any trade offers from Los Angeles throughout the season and at the deadline. The strong-arm tactics used by former team president Magic Johnson, general manager Rob Pelinka, and Anthony Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, reportedly rubbed the team the wrong way and they had no interest in giving the Lakers the superstar they were looking for.
When the Lakers received the No. 4 pick at the NBA Draft Lottery this past week, however, most assumed that prized piece added to the team’s assets would give the Pelicans no choice but to reevaluate their stance on Los Angeles as a potential trade partner. Under newly-hired general manager David Griffin, they’d have to accept the trade offer they felt was best overall, regardless of franchise, right?
Well, not exactly.
According to veteran journalist Jackie MacMullen, New Orleans won’t be backing off from their stance on the issue. In fact, she says there is “scuttlebutt” that owner Gayle Benson will only trade Davis to the Lakers “over [her] dead body.”
“We have been told, I think, through channels — most of us have heard this same scuttlebutt,” MacMullen said on the Hoop Collective podcast with NBA insider Brian Windhorst, “that Gayle Benson has basically told [Anthony Davis], ‘To the Lakers, over my dead body.’”
WDSU reporter Fletcher Mackel talked to Benson, who refuted the phrasing of the report, saying it was “completely untrue” and “absurd” that she wouldn’t look at the best available option for her franchise.
That being said, MacMullen is known as one of the most well-connected reporters in the NBA and is not known for discussing rumors and speculation unless she is certain there is at least some bit of truth to them. With all of the tension during trade discussions – or lack thereof – this season, it’d be silly to think the New Orleans front office is ecstatic about the opportunity to speak with the Lakers again.
While the ultimate goal for David Griffin is to convince Davis to rethink his trade request and play with Zion Williamson in New Orleans moving forward, Shams Charania of The Athletic has already reported that the former Wildcat isn’t backing down.
The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, if the Pelicans can’t convince Davis to return, they will reach out to the Celtics about a potential deal. With trade assets such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier (via sign and trade), and a plethora of draft picks, there is likely something in Boston’s treasure chest of pieces that is appealing to the Pelicans and their upcoming rebuild.
There have been reports that Davis hasn’t moved from that stance, and if such is the case, sources here told the Herald the Pelicans will reach out to the Celtics as the most obvious trade partner. The Celts may still not be sure about a deal because it’s not known yet what the Pels will want in return for the All-Star, but there seems to be a belief that they’d be able to work things out.
A trade is going to happen in the coming months, but where?