Top Stories

Report: Pelicans, Lakers executives talk on phone about Davis

Los Angeles one of top suitors for New Orleans star big man Anthony Davis

When news of Anthony Davis’ desire for a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans broke earlier this week, the team did not wait long to make its stance on the issue known. Days later, the Pelicans appear to be holding firm to that approach.

The Los Angles Lakers are the team that may have the most interest in the NBA in acquiring Davis. To actually do so, however, may require a longer road than perhaps they expected.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, Pelicans GM Dell Demps had not returned a call from Lakers GM Rob Pelinka. That changed on Thursday, though, as executives from both teams connected on the phone, per Wojnarowski. They are expected to talk again before the Feb. 3 trade deadline.

The Lakers are thought to be the top suitor for the superstar big man Davis, but the Pelicans are taking their time in any kind of deal — especially one that might involve the Lakers.

L.A. already has a star on its roster in LeBron James, who also happens to be represented by the same agent as Davis — Rich Paul. Wojnarowski and Lowe report that the Pelicans are seemingly content to wait out their next move with Davis — even as the trade deadline looms. Here’s more from ESPN’s story:

As of now, the Pelicans see no reason to deliver Davis to the Lakers in a deal with a full season left on his contract — never mind do it on a timeline that benefits mostly the objectives of Los Angeles and Davis.

New Orleans officials are prepared to play the long game on Davis’ future, embarking on an uncomfortable, if not combative process that could extend months beyond next Thursday’s trade deadline.

If Davis wants to be a Laker, the Pelicans’ mantra so far is simply: Feel free to join L.A. as a free agent in 2020 and potentially punt on the 2019-20 season — when James will turn 35 — to keep the requisite cap space open.

For now, Demps is following the San Antonio Spurs’ initial playbook with Kawhi Leonard from a year ago: Accept calls and listen to deal concepts and offers.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that Lakers team president Magic Johnson and Demps talked on the phone Tuesday about how to proceed in Davis trade talks. Johnson presented Demps with five different trade scenarios for Davis on Wednesday, Turner reports, and are waiting to hear back from Demps about which ones interest him the most.

One of those scenarios would include Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and a No. 1 pick.

The Lakers want to get a deal done and have no plans on trying to outbid the Boston Celtics this summer. The Lakers, at that point, will then pursue other free agents besides Davis, Turner reports.

Just about every other non-Lakers team in the NBA is expected to (or already has) inquired about landing Davis. The Celtics are thought of by many NBA insiders as the team that could contend with the Lakers in trading for Davis. However, Wojnarowski and Lowe report Paul and Davis’ camp have warned other teams that trading for Davis may be nothing more than a short-term rental.

Davis can become a free agent in the summer of 2020 and, per ESPN, teams are learning that his plan is to treat any trade destination as a one-year stop — unless that team is the Lakers.

On Monday, the Pelicans issued a statement that acknowledged Davis’ trade request, but also made it clear they will deal him when it suits the team best.

“This past weekend, Anthony Davis’ representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade,” the Pelicans’ statement said. “Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organization’s top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans and build our team for long-term success.

Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”

On Tuesday, the NBA fined the Pelicans star $50,000 because of his agent’s comments that Davis won’t sign an extension and wants to be traded.

The Celtics cannot trade for Davis under NBA rules until July 1, unless they also trade away Kyrie Irving — which likely won’t happen. Irving is a factor because of what’s known as the “Rose Rule,” the one that says NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension.

Per ESPN, Boston is hopeful that it can swing a trade for Davis when the time comes without sacrificing Jayson Tatum in any future deal. The New York Knicks also have interest in trading for Davis, ESPN reports, but their chances at landing him may hinge on what kind pick they land in the 2019 draft.

Overall, Davis does plan to play for the Pelicans again before the trade deadline and wants to play in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game (provided he is selected as a reserve), ESPN reports. Before last night’s 105-99 home loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Pelicans edited their usual pregame video shown on the large center scoreboard just before tip-off. Davis, their five-time All-Star who publicly requested a trade through his agent Monday, was conspicuously absent from the video. He was present at the game, however, sitting on the end of the bench in street clothes.

Davis could sign a 5-year, $240 million super max extension this summer and can become a free agent in the summer of 2020. He is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per game this season.

Last season, Davis was instrumental in the Pelicans’ playoff run, powering them into the postseason as the No. 6 seed. Once there, they swept the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before losing in five games in the West semifinals to the Golden State Warriors.

He’s an elite superstar on a team that hasn’t gotten past the West semifinals since he’s been in New Orleans — and in four of his first six full seasons, the Pelicans didn’t qualify for the playoffs at all.

A five-time All-Star, Davis was an All-NBA first team member in three of the last four seasons. He has made three All-Defensive teams in his career and is the Pelicans’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, field goals attempted and made and free throws attempted and made.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.