Ever since the New Orleans Pelicans were informed in late January that their star center, Anthony Davis, would not be re-signing with them — and wanted a trade — it’s been rumored that the Los Angeles Lakers would be Davis’ next team.
The teams engaged in trade talks prior to the trade deadline, but these talks did not result in a deal, and Davis remains a member of the Pelicans to this day. Following the deadline, the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps. This firing came amid speculation that the small-market New Orleans team did not want to surrender their best player to a more-established, big-market rival in Los Angeles.
Now, with New Orleans having won the top overall pick in this week’s NBA Draft Lottery — and with trade talks for Davis likely re-starting after the postseason — there’s once again speculation that he could be headed to the Lakers.
“From what I understand the Pelicans are not interested in making a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers,” ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst said on TV this week, per Twitter. This narrative led to further speculation that the Pelicans were opposed, on an ownership level, to sending Davis to Los Angeles. These rumors were especially exacerbated once Jackie MacMullen of ESPN reported that Pelicans owner Gayle Benson had told the Pelicans front office, of a Davis trade — “To the Lakers, over my dead body.”
The team’s owner has now denied that.
Local reporter Fletcher Mackel tweeted Friday that Benson is denying the reports, stating that it’s “totally absurd” and “completely untrue” that she is specifically opposed to trading Davis to Los Angeles.
Per the “over my dead body” reports out there regarding Gayle Benson, the Lakers and Anthony Davis.— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) May 17, 2019
I have spoken to Gayle.
She laughed at the report and called it “totally absurd,” and “completely untrue.”@wdsu @basketballtalk @Rachel__Nichols pic.twitter.com/IXE2ck1VNv
David Griffin recently was named the Pelicans’ new vice president, and he is said to have a good relationship with Klutch Sports, the agency that represents both LeBron James and Davis. He is expected to attempt to pursuade Davis to rescind his trade demand and stay in New Orleans, although few around the league expect that to happen. Griffin will then have a chance to trade Davis for a package of presumably young talent with which to develop, likely pairing these with an expected first overall pick in Zion Williamson.
Gayle Benson is the widow of longtime Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, and she took over as owner of the two teams following the death of her husband in 2018. This followed a protracted battle in which Benson switched his plan of succession for his sports franchises from his daughter and grandchildren to his wife, four years prior to his death. Assorted other relatives sued to challenge his mental competence in making that decision.