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Your nameplate says Dell Demps, Senior VP/General Manager, New Orleans Pelicans. So tell me Mr. Demps, what’s the plan?
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Steve Aschburner: I stock up enough soothing teas to last a week, light a dozen candles and contract for thrice-daily shoulder-and-neck rubs. I consult a book of aphorisms, reminding myself to “measure twice and cut once” and that “good things come to those who wait.” Then, I breathe deeply and relax between now and the Feb. 7 trade deadline. There’s no reason to rush into any Anthony Davis trade. Look, if someone blows off my socks with a package, by all means, the All-NBA big man will be leaving a forwarding address. But I want as many suitors and as much known info as possible, which argues against a deadline deal. I want to know which teams have which lottery picks to dangle and I want the Boston Celtics to have bellied up to the bar (free from the Kyrie Irving contract/CBA restriction). Whatever anyone, a.k.a., the Los Angeles Lakers, will offer in the next week, they’ll bring again in June — they don’t want to wait to sign him as a free agent in 2020, which would mean getting their first playoff run with Davis and LeBron James when James is 36. And that’s why, ultimately, I’ll do my darnedest to send Davis to anyone but the Lakers, whether now or later. No need to facilitate James’ and Magic Johnson’s dreams given their massive competitive advantages in L.A. and relative disregard for markets such as our Pelicans’. The league and the agents who try to dominate it need a reminder, too, that four-year contracts aren’t supposed to fizzle after two-and-a-half years. Honor your business.
Shaun Powell: First, I’m going to sit tight and listen and not make a rash decision even if the trade deadline is creeping closer. While I’m not willing to make LeBron James and the Lakers happy, I’m also not going to let personal feelings get in the way of making a sound business decision. The goal is to maximize the trade value of Davis no matter the team and if that’s the Lakers, so be it. Unless I felt the Celtics could truly offer something better this summer, I’m sending Davis to LA for young players and picks.
John Schuhmann: Step 1: Anthony Davis is not playing another game for the New Orleans Pelicans. He doesn’t want to be here and when it comes to the future of this franchise, our own 2019 Draft pick could be just as important as any pick we acquire. So he can go work out with Carmelo Anthony, Chandler Parsons and J.R. Smith while they all wait for trades that may or may not come.
Step 2: I’m aggressively shopping Nikola Mirotic (who has an expiring contract), Julius Randle (who has a player option this summer), and my other players on smaller expiring deals, getting whatever I can for them between now and the trade deadline. I’ll take calls about Jrue Holiday, but there isn’t much urgency with him. He has at least two more years on his contract, other teams will have more payroll flexibility in the summer, and while I’m ready to call this season over, I’m not eliminating the possibility that we can compete for the playoffs next season (or the season after) with whatever pieces we get back in trades.
Step 3: I’m taking calls about Davis, but I’m probably waiting until the summer to trade him for a couple of reasons. Primarily, that’s when the Celtics can trade Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the picks that they have. Also, it won’t be until after the Lottery that I know where every team is picking in the Draft.
Sekou Smith: The plan is to stretch this process out all the way until July. We’ll suck it up and take whatever public relations hits come from the fans and the basketball public. But I’ll be damned if we’re going to rush into anything where Anthony Davis is concerned. It’s bad enough we have a transcendent talent, one of the top five players in the game, requesting a trade. We all know this tends to end horribly for he team stuck on this side of this scenario. My job is to do what’s best for the present and future of the New Orleans Pelicans. And that means taking my sweet time and being patient. I’ll wait for Boston and see what they are willing to deliver in a trade (I want it all, young stars and picks) for AD. But the trade deadline is just anther day to me right now. I feel no pressure to do anything hasty where AD is concerned.