There are a couple of dangerous sharks swimming in the waters outside of New Orleans that the Pelicans franchise must pay attention to closely.
The Los Angeles Lakers — and specifically Magic Johnson and LeBron James — are ridiculously desperate, and they appear poised to do anything to make Anthony Davis a part of their reality before the February 7th trade deadline.
The Lakers, who have dropped 10 of 16 games in James’ absence, currently sit ninth in the Western Conference standings, one and a half games out of playoffs. While missing out on the 2019 postseason wouldn’t mark the end of the world — although considering how Magic threw Luke Walton under the bus early in November would have you believe otherwise, the failure to add another star next to LeBron before the start of next regular season could be a fatal blow to an organization that is beginning to feel some serious heat.
Kevin Durant has already hinted that he doesn’t want to try and operate in LeBron’s shadow. Ditto for Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. While Kyrie Irving recently apologized to his former mentor in Cleveland, no way can anyone envision him crawling back to James under his own volition and voluntarily ceding most of the spotlight.
Davis represents the greatest probability for Los Angeles to become a contender overnight, and it’s in the best interests of Magic and GM Rob Pelinka to bring him to the Blue and Gold family inside of the next ten days. If the Lakers fail to strike a deal for AD before the trade deadline, they’ll be forced to compete with the Boston Celtics, other teams waiting to push their bargaining chips into the center of the table, and those who get fortunate in the next draft lottery and can dangle Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or perhaps RJ Barrett to the Pelicans. In that potential scenario this summer, the Lakers would certainly not be able to place the highest bid for the New Orleans superstar.
Magic Johnson likely expected to already have two stars in L.A., but he misread the cards. Most stars in their prime do not want to share the ball with LeBron James. The Lakers president of basketball operations should have bid on Paul George instead of letting fate intervene. Now he’s looking at Davis as perhaps his last hurrah before the natives decide to turn on him.
After appearing in 82 regular season games and another 22 playoff games with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, James surpassed the 54 thousand minutes barrier. Kobe Bryant barely clawed past 57 thousand minutes for his career before calling it quits, and don’t forget how his last three seasons were seriously injury-riddled. In 15 seasons James failed to reach the 70 games plateau just twice. This year will mark his third and odds are he’ll fail to play in more than 60 games for the first time in his career.
So does anyone believe Magic and LeBron feel comfortable they’ll get through the rest of this year with no real help for James and a once supremely conditioned body which is showing chinks in the armor? And don’t forget about the following season too if the Pelicans trade Davis elsewhere which would thereby force the Lakers to wait to grab him in the 2020 free agency period. Wait to surround LeBron with the requisite help when he’s approaching 36 years of age?
We’ve heard James openly talk about how great it would be to play alongside Davis in December. Now Rich Paul has reached out to Wojnarowski, and in addition to the trade demand issued privately on Friday to New Orleans, its expected that we’ll soon likely learn the Lakers are Davis’ team of choice.
The Pelicans reacted to the breaking AD news in a statement released yesterday.
This past weekend, Anthony Davis’ representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade. Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organization’s top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans and build our team for long-term success.
Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it 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.
Notice the last few lines. New Orleans maintains they will dictate terms and, hey league office, the Los Angeles, LeBron and Rich Paul combination are doing it again! This is a good start, but it likely won’t be the last confrontation between the two parties and lets pray it doesn’t get ugly quick.
Everyone has heard the story ad nauseum over the past 24 hours: The Anthony Davis era has been an abject failure in New Orleans. Of course, all necessary steps must be taken to prevent the chance of history repeating, but at this moment in time, the Pelicans franchise needs to maintain its concentration on focusing efforts in preventing the Los Angeles Lakers from bullying them into an unwise deal.
To recapitulate Gayle Benson’s words, no one wants to keep Anthony Davis here if he wants to leave, but equally as important: allowing him to corner the Pelicans front office by choosing his destination of choice cannot be tolerated. New Orleans needs to do what’s best for New Orleans and that is to extract as much value as possible when trading one of the game’s best — a deal that certainly doesn’t include Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and/or Kyle Kuzma plus a middling pick or two.