As the Los Angeles Lakers pursue New Orleans Pelicans All-NBA center Anthony Davis ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, the initial offers have been underwhelming, including the Lakers’ first offer of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and a first-round pick, league sources told ESPN.
The Lakers have limited offers to two of the franchise’s top young players in every proposal, and resisted including more than a single first-round pick in offers, league sources said.
With five days left to make a deal to partner Davis with LeBron James, there’s still time for the Lakers to improve offers. New Orleans hasn’t responded to or countered those proposals, sources said.
So far, the Lakers’ negotiating strategy in their pursuit of Davis is similar to how they chased Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the past two years. San Antonio and Indiana traded Leonard and George to Toronto and Oklahoma City, respectively. Los Angeles had been hopeful that they could sign the two Southern California natives in free agency. George stayed with the Thunder, and Leonard will be a free agent in July.
Also, the Lakers haven’t offered salary-cap relief for the Pelicans, which would mean absorbing unappetizing Pelicans contracts as part of a larger trade, sources said. That’s a typical staple of offers designed to acquire superstar players.
Lakers president Magic Johnson has been communicating with Pelicans GM Dell Demps, sources said. So far, New Orleans hasn’t considered the offers worthy of response or countering, league sources said.
The grouping of Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and Josh Hart are included in different Lakers scenarios, but only two of these to an offer, league sources said. For the Pelicans to agree to a trade before Thursday’s deadline, it would seem likely that most, if not all, of those players would be included into packages — with multiple first-round picks.
The Knicks were able to acquire two Dallas first-round picks, including one unprotected, for Kristaps Porzingis on Thursday.
Davis, 25, requested a trade Monday through his agent, Rich Paul, of Klutch Sports. The Lakers are Davis’ preferred choice, sources said.
New Orleans has been leaning toward waiting until the end of the season to negotiate with the Boston Celtics, who have a larger pool of draft and player assets. Boston is unable to trade for Davis with Kyrie Irving on its roster, because the league’s CBA prohibits a player on a designated rookie extension to be traded to a team that already has a player under that contract.
Boston can consummate a deal for Davis in July, once Irving becomes a free agent. Boston has been encouraging New Orleans to bypass the deadline and wait until after the season to work with them on a deal for Davis, sources said. The Pelicans are privately insisting that they would need to be “blown away” to accept a trade in this short window before the trade deadline.
Davis informed the Pelicans that he wouldn’t sign a five-year, $239 million extension this summer and would become an unrestricted free agent in July 2020.