When Rich Paul dropped the bombshell that Anthony Davis asked for a trade, it didn’t sit well with the people who have power over Davis. For that bit of agent-candor, Davis was fined $50 grand. It seems like a stupid way to lose $50 thousand but the Collective Bargaining Agreement has biblical punishments. It prohibits a player or an agent from publicly requesting a trade. When they do that, the thinking goes, they are inserting themselves into the contractual agreement a player has with a team. Like breaking up a marriage. It would have been interesting, though, to see the league’s response if Paul had only said Davis wasn’t going to sign an extension and he left the trade piece out. But. Too late for that.
If Paul was trying to angle for a trade to the Lakers before the deadline he calculated badly. Teams don’t want to trade with the Lakers unless they are perennial lottery dwellers (the Lakers acquired Kyle Kuzma in the D’Angelo Russell trade), or the Lakers are willing to dump talent for a draft pick.
Gregg Popovich was very succinct and vocal that Kawhi Leonard would go anywhere but the Lakers. It’s not just that the Lakers are a big market but they make more money then everyone else. Way way more. Like a $100 million right out the gate game one because they have their own television network and in the NBA you don’t share local revenue. Teams are jealous, or just bitter at not being the 1%. The Lakers are the big, bad bully on the hill.
That said, no one can take away that the Lakers have drafted well. Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Jason Hart, Lonzo Ball will all have a long careers in the league barring injuries. (The Lakers drafted Thomas Bryant and he is the Wizards starting center). Can you say that about six players Phoenix has drafted? Or, Atlanta? It gives the Lakers a few assets to play with when trying to get a superstar.
As for the tampering charge the Pelicans and Dell Demps are trying to make stick.
The league may fine the Lakers (again) but you cannot keep players from talking to one another, going out to dinner, texting. LeBron and AD have the same agent. Information is going to go back and forth. New Orleans is bitter right about now, like the wife who knows she is being left for the mistress but unlike Jeff Bezos wife, the Pelicans aren’t going to get a settlement of $70 billion. It will be draft picks, young players and start rebuilding.
Outside of the locals, no one feels sorry for the Pelicans who are grasping at straws right now. They did this to themselves. I mean if I had a million dollars in 2012 and in 2019 I still had a million dollars or less because I didn’t invest properly, then shame on me.
At the end of Anthony Davis’ rookie year in 2013, his team won 27 games. In the draft that year, the Bucks selected an unknown Greek, Giannis Antetokounmpo. At the end of Giannis rookie year, the Milwaukee Bucks had won 15 games. Guess who has been to the playoffs more often and who doesn’t want to be traded. Yep. Giannis. He has been to the playoffs 3 out 5 years. The Bucks have built around Giannis in a way the Pelicans have not and the Bucks may have the best record in the East come April. The Bucks haven’t been this good since they had Ray Allen, Michael Redd, and Big Dog Robinson. Why? They drafted well, changed to a coach who had a specific offensive system, and made use of the talent they have.
The Pelicans, on the other hand. They drafted Nerlens Noel than traded him for Jrue Holiday. They won 34 games. They then thought Omer Asik would work. He didn’t. They signed Jimmer Fredette, Darius Miller, Dionte Christmas, need I go on? They were a revolving door of average. Dante Cunningham. Norris Cole. Even Chris Dougals-Roberts.
Ish Smith they should have kept but traded him to the Sixers. James Ennis came through New Orleans once upon a time. They drafted Buddy Hield but gave up on him too soon and now he shoots 45% from three and averages 20 points a game.
The Boogie experiment was nice while it lasted but luck intervened and that’s also something the Pelicans have never had. Luck. They drafted Chris Paul in 2005 and Anthony Davis in 2012 and couldn’t keep either one. But Paul who forced his way out has never won a title so I guess there is that small piece of New Orleans positivity.
Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore are good enough but no one you’d find on a contending team. But this is true too. Anthony Davis hasn’t made anyone better lately either. But he’s the talent and has all the leverage. Maybe not now with the NBA getting in the middle of things but wait one year and let’s see who is in the driver’s seat and it won’t be the New Orleans Pelicans and it won’t be the NBA.
It’s a star’s league.