Eric Gay/Associated Press
The will-they-or-won’t-they drama surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis is reportedly weighing on those within the organization as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches.
“It’s a f–ked up situation,” a Pelicans staffer told Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times in reference to the toll Davis’ trade request has taken on the franchise.
The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be the primary suitor for Davis ahead of the deadline.
Woike delved into what makes the situation so “f–ked up,” noting trade negotiations between the Lakers and Pelicans have been “very open, very public—and, in some ways, very messy.”
He also pointed to a “strong belief around the league” Los Angeles will still offer Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two first-round picks this coming offseason because the “pressure to acquire a superstar to pair with James is too great for the Lakers’ front office to play hardball with any credibility.”
Since the Boston Celtics can’t become involved in trade discussions until July 1 and the 2019 draft order remains unknown, the Pelicans have little incentive to make a deal prior to Thursday.
Boston cannot trade for Davis this season because he and Kyrie Irving are both playing under the designated rookie extension provision.
If the Pelicans do keep Davis beyond Thursday, they may shut him down for the season so he doesn’t get hurt and jeopardize a potential blockbuster trade. That only adds to the volatility of the situation.
Woike suggested New Orleans’ desire to avoid that awkwardness may be the Lakers’ best hope of trading for the six-time All-Star this season.
Los Angeles is also trending in the wrong direction following Tuesday’s stunning 42-point loss to an Indiana Pacers team playing without Victor Oladipo. It was LeBron James’ worst loss of his career, and the desperation is likely starting to kick in for a team that is 10th in the Western Conference and may miss the playoffs.
However, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Pelicans general manager Dell Demps and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson have not communicated Wednesday.
Los Angeles looked like a team distracted and struggling with its new reality during Tuesday’s loss. But it doesn’t appear as though Davis will be coming to the rescue anytime soon, no matter how messed up the situation may be in New Orleans.