The chaos surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers so far this offseason has taken away from the main storyline. The Lakers are hoping to add at least one superstar to the roster to join LeBron James and turn the team into a contender for the first time in more than half a decade.
Much of that discussion has centered around free agency with the Lakers holding enough cap space for one major addition. But the team has and will continue to explore the trade market as well, especially in regards to Anthony Davis.
The Lakers attempted to pry Davis away from the New Orleans Pelicans in February when the star big man asked for a trade. However, after negotiations became public the two sides did not reach an agreement. That led to reports and claims that the Pelicans did not negotiate in good faith, preferring to trade Davis to anyone other than the purple and gold.
Regardless of whether those allegations were true, the Lakers are likely to continue to approach the Pelicans this summer and that process may have already begun. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic on the Tampering Podcast, the two sides met at the 2019 NBA Draft Combine:
“David Griffin and Rob Pelinka were engaged on Friday. They were in an animated discussion in the back of the gym that lasted for several minutes. Griffin at times was covering his mouth. I absolutely was not going to watch what was happening on the floor, I had my eyes on this the whole time.”
Of course, no one knows what Pelinka and David Griffin (the man now in charge of the Pelicans’ front office) were speaking about but it’s safe to assume that Davis’ name came up.
NBA executives use events like the combine to speak all the time. Pelinka and Griffin engaging in talks does not mean the two sides are closer to reaching a deal by any means.
However, given rumors of the Pelicans’ lack of interest in trading with the Lakers and the fact that their organization preferred to engage with Magic Johnson over Pelinka last year, this is still notable information.
The Lakers will almost certainly not pull off a trade, including one for Davis, until after the bulk of free agency is complete. That would give them the theoretical path to getting two stars this summer alongside James. It would also mean that, if their number four overall pick in the draft were to be included, they would have to draft a player for the Pelicans and include him in the trade at least 30 days later.
There are a lot of moving parts to get an Anthony Davis trade complete for both the Pelicans and the Lakers should they pull it off. Engaging in discussions this early is at least a positive sign that both sides are willing to meet at the table.