While the Los Angeles Lakers are overcoming last week's inconvenience and looking to focus on the future, they will have to decide whether they want to be part of the Anthony Davis group or not.
They are not planning to hire the New Orleans Pelicans in an exchange with Davis after the season and that they want to focus on free placement, as the president of the United States. team, Magic Johnson, hinted on Sunday, so that's pretty simple.
"It will not change our plans this summer," Johnson said. "It's a super [free-agency] class, and we just want to get one of them. "
The Lakers' president, Magic Johnson, said the pelicans had not acted in good faith in their negotiations with Anthony Davis.
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If the Lakers sign a top level free agent this summer, because their plans were in fact before Davis was available, they will likely be out of the Davis Free Agencies Contest in 2020. That's not impossible, but it would be difficult enough space with LeBron James also on the list.
But if they believe they still have a chance to reach Davis in 2019 – perhaps when he returns to the market near the draft – the Lakers will have to change their approach. And as sad as it may seem now, after a week in which pelicans and Lakers launch public and private jabs, it is not excluded.
It will take a tactical change on the part of the Lakers and hard work. And it may require some cooperation with pelicans, who may have different priorities and possibly different voices by the summer.
New Orleans did not like what the Lakers were proposing to Davis, which is reminiscent of The Spurs of San Antonio felt last summer during brief business discussions with Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers can talk about that or do something – by changing the menu.
If the Lakers do not have what the pelicans want, then they have to go out and see if they can find what the pelicans want and try to bring it to them. This is how transactions at the highest level in the NBA operate. Getting a player of the quality of Davis can take some arbitration, agreements to set up other agreements.
Communication between pelicans and Lakers was almost non-existent before the trading deadline. To say that there were negotiations might not even be accurate. By all accounts, it was a one-way conversation, with the Lakers opening their wallets and the pelicans putting their noses.
As such, there has not been a major three-team deal that has been discussed with the Lakers looking to build relationships to improve their supply. But there could absolutely have been some. This is perhaps the most realistic way of finding a way to make Davis a Laker, by expanding the trade negotiations to the options favored by the Pelicans.
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The Pelicans did not consider Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as a pretty good package for Davis. But if the Lakers had individually offered to the league players, they would probably have been able to pick repechage and other young players, assets that could then be included in a reworked exchange package.
Ditto for the preliminary selections that the Lakers were willing to send to New Orleans. Shopping around, especially with their early-to-mid-teen choice this summer, could help find pieces that might be of interest to Pelicans.
To understand how this might work, take a look at the Los Angeles Clippers. They were on Davis' "list" of places where he had expressed his willingness to sign an overtime, but would have struggled to make a deal, as many of his players were free agents.
Then, the Clippers traded the Tobias Harris trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, picking up four picks and Landry Shamet's prospect, and they found themselves facing commercial assets in addition to the players still on their list. If the Clippers chose – and for now, they seemed to be focusing on free trade 2019 – they could now make a more convincing offer for Davis.
It's not that the Lakers think their young players are too precious; they were ready to trade them all against Davis. Aside from LeBron James, the Lakers do not seem too attached to any player on the list at the moment.
As Johnson said, "They are professionals, all of them, and that's how the league works, they know it, I know it – that's how it goes."
Right now, there are hurt feelings between the Lakers and the Pelicans. But it will pass. If circumstances leave Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, two teams supposed to be interested in Davis, will not be able to meet New Orleans demand. The Lakers will have a chance to come back in the game.
The Celtics are not sure what will happen with Kyrie Irving and the Knicks do not know where their choice – and therefore their best chip – will land.
In the end, this might not always be enough. The value of young Lakers players may not be enough, either piecemeal or together. S 'engaging big in a deep free-agent market, even a stock filled with other attractive bidders, might be the best solution than going through all the possible anxieties.
But closing the door before becoming more aggressive and creative could be a mistake. Davis is so good. And while the Lakers are planning their summer moves, changing the conversation between Davis and New Orleans should be one of their serious options.