The whole Anthony Davis trade deadline saga was twisted up and poisoned by posturing and strategic leaking and all the passive-aggressive indirect communication that could be crammed into a day, each day, for a solid two weeks. But Brian Windhorst’s delicious scoop—that the Pelicans conducted trade negotiations with Lakers executives Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka in bad faith, in order to frustrate and destabilize Lakers operations—only makes much sense if Los Angeles’s trade offer details were being leaked to the media by someone inside the Pelicans organization. The Lakers would offer up some combination of young players and draft assets and salary relief, and the Pelicans would leak the details to NBA scoopsters, while also refusing to make any concrete counter offers. As a petty form of vengeance it both makes sense and appears to have worked, by torpedoing the Lakers’ chemistry and frustrating Magic Johnson to the point that he openly bitched about it to the media.
But even without spite as a motivator, that the leaks were coming from New Orleans is the only way to make sense of how often those doomed negotiations seemed to be routed through social media via NBA reporters, without arriving at the conclusion that Johnson and Pelinka are complete idiots. If the leaks weren’t coming from New Orleans, then the Lakers were responding to now former-Pelicans general manager Dell Demps ignoring their phone calls by actually trying to conduct Anthony Davis trade negotiations through the media. Given what we now know about the effect on team chemistry in Lakerland—and given the general unlikelihood of any mid-season superstar trade being successfully transacted, let alone with an asset-rich trade competitor temporarily frozen out of the process—that would be incredibly fucking stupid! Which is what makes this detail from a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic either hilarious or infuriating, or both:
Throughout the two-week saga stemming from Davis’ trade request, the Pelicans became frustrated about how public the Lakers-initiated discussions had become.
“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” one Pelicans source with direct knowledge of discussions told The Athletic.
The calls were coming from inside the house! It has long since been impossible to filter out all the competing interests that underly and motivate all these leaks and deliberately vague scoops. This version of events is in conflict with Windhorst’s version, but by now that’s par for the course, and will continue to be so until one of these damn scoopsters reports the whole story, in clear, decipherable language. This new version at least is no less enjoyable than the earlier one, for depicting the Lakers as so eager to vet their process through fans and the media that the Pelicans didn’t even have to participate in the whole catastrophic circus. But however it went down, surely we can all agree that the Lakers are now a big pile of crap.