At one point during the Anthony Davis potential-trade drama, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss almost traded LeBron James because she thought his agent, Rich Paul, leaked confidential information about the Lakers and Pelicans trade discussions.
Paul also represents Anthony Davis. Word had leaked about which Lakers were offered to the Pelicans. The details destroyed team morale and created enough subterfuge that the Lakers owner considered trading her star player in retaliation.
According to a report from Bleacher Report, an unidentified team source confirmed that Buss wanted to trade LeBron James if Rich Paul leaked all the AD trade details. Paul immediately called Buss to let her know that he was not the leaker. Everyone cleared the air after a tense situation diffused itself.
All of this drama began a couple of days before the NBA trade deadline in late January. Rich Paul informed the New Orleans Pelicans that his client, AD, wanted out of NOLA. Paul told he Pelicans that Davis had no interest in resigning with the team when his contract ended in 2020.
Sure, the NBA deadline is always a blustery time, but the Anthony Davis trade request legitimately came out of nowhere. Everyone expected the Davis sweepstakes would heat up in the summer during the offseason. Davis still had 1.5 years remaining on his contract, which is why everyone got caught off guard.
The Boston Celtics have been drooling at the prospect of acquiring Davis from the Pelicans in a trade. Due to NBA’s collective bargaining rules, the Celtics were unable to negotiate with the Pelicans until the season ended. Paul hoped to get a jump on negotiations by demanding a trade before the summer. That’s when things got crazy.
Hollyweird Game of Thrones
Offers for the Unibrow poured into the Big Easy like tourists flooding the French Quarter at Mardi Gras. The New York Knicks were interested and dangled their Unicorn, but the Pelicans shutdown the Knicks. The Lakers put in their bid and Magic Johnson offered the farm for AD. However, Pelicans were never interested in dealing AD to the Lakers, especially to become LeBron’s sidekick in LA. They gave Magic the run around and then word got out what the Lakers really offered.
When the Lakers found out about who was on the block, it destroyed what little morale the team had left. The unloved Lakers gave up on LeBron James and he suffered one of the worst losses of his career. James reportedly made up with his young teammates and had to give them the “NBA is big business” speech. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
But who leaked the trade specifics? Magic didn’t leak it. Jeanie Buss assumed Rich Paul leaked the details. Paul represented both LeBron and Anthony Davis. That’s when things got “Game of Thrones” weird. If Paul crossed Buss, then she would have to punish him for insubordination. That meant shipping LeBron out of Los Angeles.
Paul and Buss had a meeting and Paul convinced her that he was not the leak. They hugged it out and moved on. All signs pointed to the Pelicans as the source of the leak, which seemed like the logical culprit. You didn’t need to consult Occam’s Razor to figure out hell hath no fury like an NBA team scorned.
In the end, the Pelicans never traded Davis, but they still inflicted some emotional damage in SoCal.
Purple and Gold Reality TV
It’s been a long season for the Lakers. LeBron’s home opener in Los Angeles for ruined by a fight. Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul threw down and a brawl ensued. Rondo and Brandon Ingram were suspended.
Despite the rumors, Magic Johnson had to come out and tell the press that he did not intend to fire Luke Walton during the season.
On Christmas, LeBron James went down with a groin injury and the Lakers kissed their postseason hopes good bye.
At this point, who will eventually join the Lakers next season to help LeBron contend for an NBA title in the twilight of his career? Will Klay Thompson jump ship in Golden State and head south to SoCal? Thompsons’ father, Mychal, is a former teammate of Magic Johnson with the LA Lakers.
How about Kawhi Leonard? He created his own bit of drama when he begged out of San Antonio, only to be shipped north of the border to the Toronto Raptors. The Clippers made bold moves and traded Tobias Harris to the Sixers to clear enough pace to attack two top-end free agents. Kawhi Leonard wants to play in his hometown. Will he be playing with LeBron or for the Clippers?
It’s never a dull day in the City of Angels.