There has been buzz for months surrounding Anthony Davis’ free agency next year. The superstar forward hasn’t been able to win a championship with his New Orleans Pelicans and it’s well known that he won’t stay on with the team after the 2019/2020 season. The question is: where might Davis end up?
His main option, up until the trade deadline, was to go to L.A. and team up with LeBron. But Magic Johnson and the Lakers’ front office weren’t able to make it happen. So Davis is still in New Orleans for the time being.
It might appear that nothing has changed. But that couldn’t be further from the truth for the two teams involved in the possible trade, the New Orleans Pelicans and the L.A. Lakers.
The Effect on the Lakers
Because the Lakers didn’t end up making the trade for Davis, their team is still intact. But that doesn’t mean that things are the same. L.A. management was reportedly willing to shake up the entire roster of the team, giving away several players and potential draft picks in order to get Davis. The fact that it didn’t actually happen doesn’t matter to the players in the locker room.
Playing for a team that was willing to trade you away can be difficult. Playing professional sports requires a great amount of confidence and knowing your management could do without you doesn’t boost a player’s self esteem. Furthermore, knowing that the management doesn’t have faith in the team as a unit can be a hard thought to stomach.
With the playoffs looming, this kind of stir to the confidence of a team can be devastating. The end of the regular season is not the time to be mixing things up.
But president of the Lakers, Magic Johnson, sees things a different way. Magic was, as we know, a Lakers’ star himself, and knows a thing or two about player psychology. According to him, his guys are professionals and know that decisions are made to help teams win and can’t be taken personally.
Magic may be right. His guys may understand that he was only trying to help the organization by acquiring Davis. But not every player can be so emotionless when it comes to ego.
The Effect On The Pelicans
The Pelicans have less psychological fallout to deal with. They know that their team revolves around Davis and that their management is looking for the best deal for when he leaves.
But the Pelicans are dealing with a different kind of dilemma. The team hasn’t been playing Davis as much as they usually do. This is odd, considering that Davis is their best player, and the playoffs are coming up. But the Pelicans are not focused on the playoffs this season. The team’s main concern is keeping Davis healthy so they can make a favorable trade with him in the offseason.
This strategy too, makes a lot of practical sense. But it’s hard to play for a team that isn’t concerned with winning and only concerned with next season.
So Davis is a Pelican for now but don’t be surprised if that changes in the offseason. The Boston Celtics have shown interest in him and have a deep enough team to make the Pelicans an interesting offer. And don’t count L.A. out of the equation either. Just because they couldn’t get him for the 2019 playoffs doesn’t mean they might not try again this summer.
And if you ask Davis, he doesn’t seem too concerned about it all. He still considers himself the best player in the NBA. He seems content to bide his time for now. Whether or not he’s the best, it seems likely that he ends up on a championship team one of these days.