With just a few more hours remaining before the NBA’s trade deadline closes at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, the chances of the Los Angeles Lakers successfully trading for Anthony Davis by that time are getting slimmer and slimmer. Reports over the past few days have seen the Lakers purportedly offer practically all of their key contributors outside of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James. However, the New Orleans Pelicans have kept playing hardball and, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski described it on Tuesday, even purportedly demanded to be “overcompensated” for their superstar big man. That has led some fans and pundits to wonder if the Pelicans are taking revenge after the Lakers allegedly tampered with Davis in the months leading to his trade request.
The above theory was discussed on ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday, as Rachel Nichols asked her co-host, Brian Windhorst, if he thinks New Orleans “set up” the Lakers as an act of revenge for their purported tampering. As elaborated on by Yahoo Sports, this perceived scheme covers the Pelicans deliberately extending the stalemate over Davis by rejecting every trade offer Los Angeles sent their way, while also “[sowing] discord” among the Lakers’ younger players by leaking trade rumors.
In response to Nichols’ question, Windhorst said that he agrees with the theory and believes the Pelicans might have been out to sabotage the Lakers.
“It’s not just possible, it’s what happened.”
According to Yahoo Sports’ Jack Baer, the perception that the Pelicans sabotaged the Lakers for tampering with Anthony Davis could make for a “great revenge story.” However, he added that there’s a chance this could also hurt New Orleans in the long run, as other teams might see the Pelicans as “less credible” if it’s proven that they were really acting in bad faith against the Lakers.
As for the Los Angeles Lakers, there’s a possibility their dogged pursuit of Davis could end up being much ado about nothing if recent rumors are to be believed. On Wednesday, the New York Times’ Marc Stein tweeted that Davis plans to play out the rest of his contract with the Pelicans if he isn’t traded before the deadline and would rather enter free agency in the summer of 2020 “no matter where he lands” before that time.
“That would likely hamper the Lakers’ interest in Davis, as trading away your entire young core for a player who might leave after one season is an extraordinarily risky move, even if the Pelicans really were serious in discussions,” Yahoo Sports’ Baer commented.
Amid all the drama surrounding Anthony Davis and the plethora of players they were reportedly planning to send to New Orleans in order to get him, the Lakers currently sit at 10th place in the Western Conference with a 27-27 record. Even with LeBron James back from injury, reports of locker room turmoil, including an alleged altercation between several Lakers veterans and coach Luke Walton, per CBS Sports, have surrounded the team as of late. All this, as opined by Yahoo Sports, represents a messy situation that could take months for the Lakers to sort out.