Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James had the same reaction as nearly any NBA player would have when asked by ESPN about the possibility of joining up with Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
James’ comments come just days before the Lakers are set to take on the Pelicans on ESPN on Friday night.
Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans’ resident superstar, has been the center of trade speculations for quite some time but it’s really ramped up since last summer.
The 25-year-old Davis has two years remaining on his current contract after this season. He’s making $25.5 million this season and is set to make $27.1 million in 2019-20. He has a player option for the 2020-21 season at $28.6 million.
The player option is likely to be declined because Davis is eligible for a supermax extension worth north of $250 million over five years beginning next summer. Davis has also given the Pelicans zero indication that he wants to get out of New Orleans, he could decline the option and leave the Pelicans as a free agent.
Until Davis makes it known to management that he wants out, New Orleans will not be engaging with any team – the Lakers, the Boston Celtics or otherwise – until that happens.
The Lakers, with a young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, and the Celtics, with young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as well as potentially four first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, have been considered the most likely landing spots for Davis if a trade were to go down.
New Orleans has been active trying to improve the team this season. The Pelicans reportedly offered Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler earlier this year before Butler was dealt to Philadelphia.
Some trade dominos have started to fall but the major sellers on the trade market have been teams who are looking beyond this season – Phoenix getting rid of Trevor Ariza or Cleveland moving out George Hill and Kyle Korver.
James openly stating that playing with Davis may not fall under the NBA’s tampering rules.
The rule, from Article 35A (e) of the NBA Constitution states: “Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce, or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiates or contracts for such services shall, on being charged with such tampering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained; in the event his decision is that the charges have been sustained, then the Commissioner shall have the power to suspend such Player for a definite or indefinite period, or to impose a fine not exceeding $50,000, or inflict both such suspension and fine upon any such Player.”
It’s hard to see whether it was directly trying to entice Davis to come to Los Angeles rather than just answering a question posed to him, but the NBA has been lenient on players when it comes to tampering rather than coming down harder on general managers and owners.