The Lakers did not get Anthony Davis at the trade deadline despite the best efforts of Davis, Rich Paul, Rob Pelinka, and Magic Johnson.
L.A. reportedly put an offer featuring four of their top young players and two first round picks on the table (along with taking on Solomon Hill’s contract to provide cap relief for New Orleans), but that still wasn’t enough for the Pelicans. There is a debate raging about whether the Pelicans were simply acting in their best interests in pushing for more, or if there was something more nefarious afoot in New Orleans’ plans.
Some have posited that the Pelicans never intended to trade Davis to the Lakers, feeling the organization was playing a role in the strong-arming efforts of Klutch Sports to push the star to L.A. As such, New Orleans let the Lakers create locker room discord by making such a strong push and having their young players firmly involved in trade talks so publicly.
Now, whether that was all part of a master plan from the start or, more likely, the Pelicans just happily let the Lakers do that to themselves, Magic Johnson isn’t pleased with how all of it went down. Johnson spoke with reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday and when asked whether the Pelicans operated in good faith during all of this, he had a succinct response.
The debate that will rage on into the summer and until Davis is ultimately traded somewhere is whether New Orleans really can and will get a better package from someone else. That will be determined by whether the top overall pick makes its way into discussions and what the Celtics are willing to put on the table, but it’s clear New Orleans wasn’t impressed by the Lakers offering, at least not enough to be willing to give in to demands to send him to L.A.
There were other highlights to his talk that trickled out on social media, namely that he didn’t think the young players needed to be protected from trade rumors and the media needed to not baby them.
The point about trade talks being public not affecting them is also one that can be argued. There was almost a play-by-play going on of every discussion or attempted discussion between the two sides from reporters national and local in Los Angeles, which made it very clear what players were involved throughout.
He’s not wrong that trade talks happen and players will need to be professionals and learn to deal with them, but it is interesting how LeBron and Magic, a pair of players that were the elite of the elite and as such never had to deal with trade rumors involving themselves, seem to have little empathy towards those that do find their lives hanging in the balance and may be effected by that.