The team most often mentioned as a destination for Anthony Davis, following his recent trade request, is the Los Angeles Lakers. A deal between the Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans would unite Davis with another superstar, LeBron James, while presumably allowing the Pelicans to start over with several younger players.
However, it doesn’t appear that such a trade is in the offing, at least in the short term.
According to an ESPN report by Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps has not returned calls from the Lakers’ Rob Pelinka in regards to the trade talks. Demps has returned calls from unnamed other teams, but not from the Lakers.
This indicates, per the report, that the Lakers may not be the favorite to acquire Davis after all — and that the Pelicans feel no pressure to facilitate a trade to the Lakers, specifically.
The NBA’s trade deadline is next Thursday, meaning that if Davis is not traded by then, he will remain with the Pelicans until the offseason. Davis is signed through the 2019-2020 season, but he is eligible to sign a $200 million extension this offseason — with whichever team he is on at the time.
Furthermore, the report states that while Davis has not specifically requested a trade to the Lakers, Davis has indicated that he would not sign a long-term extension with any team other than the Lakers — and would treat a trade to any other team as a one-year stopover before signing with Los Angeles as a free agent in 2020. However, forcing the Lakers to wait until 2020 to sign Davis would require the Lakers to keep cap space open for more than a year.
Story co-bylined with @ZachLowe_NBA and an assist from @WindhorstESPN: Inside the Anthony Davis trade sweepstakes, including the latest on Davis' 2020 free agent intentions, plus Pelicans-Lakers-Celtics triangle. https://t.co/Bt7EtpX3kk— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
The other team often linked to Davis, the Boston Celtics, cannot trade for Davis until the offseason — at least for as long as Kyrie Irving is on the team. But the Celtics, per ESPN, are interested in a Davis trade. They are attempting to make the case to New Orleans that they can put together the strongest offer for the player, with the goal of assembling a “big three” of Davis, Irving, and Jayson Tatum. In addition, the Celtics believe that if they traded for Davis, the player would not be “willing to walk out on a championship core with Boston for the Lakers.”
The situation is similar to that of Paul George, another star player with a year left on his contract who, in 2017, informed his team — the Indiana Pacers — that he would not re-sign with them. George wanted a trade to the Lakers. The Pacers, seeing a better offer from elsewhere, traded George not to the Lakers but to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who bet that they could convince George to stick around for more than one year. George ended up re-signing with the Thunder last year.