Rich Paul Blames Ex-Pelicans GM Dell Demps For Why He Took Anthony Davis’ Trade Request Public

Getty Image

Anthony Davis still wants to be traded out of New Orleans and, by all accounts, the Lakers are his preferred destination, along with the Knicks.

Davis’ agent Rich Paul was recently profiled by Sports Illustrated in a cover story on his rise to being one of the league’s top power brokers and how he will wield that power this summer, most notably with Davis. Paul was extremely candid in the interview, explaining that no matter who deals for Davis, the star will not sign an extension and plans on testing the waters of free agency in 2020.

He also made it very clear that the Celtics would not be able to re-sign Davis should they deal for the star, noting it’d be a one-year rental and then he’d be gone. All of this is rather fascinating given the way the Davis trade saga has gone. It started with a public trade request made by Paul through ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which earned Davis a fine, and the resulting two weeks of pandemonium and speculation that followed effectively destroyed both the Pelicans and the Lakers.

Paul will continue to press forward and try to direct his guy to the preferred locales, but in the piece he explained exactly why this became such a public spectacle, shifting blame to Dell Demps, who was the Pelicans GM at the time.

Paul admits the situation got out of hand. (“Would I have wanted things to be handled a bit better? Absolutely.”) But he goes on to dump all blame on then Pels GM, Dell Demps. Because Paul insists his plan wasn’t to go public. He says that he first informed Demps on Jan. 25 of Davis’s intentions, and Demps responded that he’d confer with Benson and get back to him. (Demps did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) Instead, Paul says, Demps called Davis himself—and never got back to Paul. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had contacted him, Paul says, to confirm Davis’s demands.

“It was necessary to go public,” Paul says. “When I told you, ‘Here’s our intentions,’ and you say, ‘Hey, let me talk to ownership,’ and instead of you talking to ownership you call Anthony Davis? That’s called being ignored.” And trying to get between a player and his agent? “That’s a no-no,” Paul says. “Every GM knows that.”

One of the overarching themes of the piece on Paul is that the one thing he won’t tolerate is disrespect about his ability as an agent or being treated as though he’s still an outsider, and it’s clear Demps going directly to Davis and circumventing Paul felt, to him, like a form of disrespect. That led him to making the request public and creating the great AD trade panic of 2019.

That is still going on and may linger well into the summer. There’s the potential for Davis to be dealt out of New Orleans before draft night, but if that doesn’t happen one would expect New Orleans to wait until after some of the top free agents make their decisions to make a deal, capitalizing on the frustration of teams that struck out. The Lakers still seem like the frontrunner and that would make Paul and Davis happy, but others can get in the mix and the Pelicans will do their best to create more demand for Davis through talks league-wide.

Through it all, Paul will continue to do what he does, which is advocate fiercely for his client to go where he wants, by any means necessary. That will continue to garner criticism, as he does what all agents do, but without the care for doing it in the shadows.