The Boston Celtics came up short in their pursuit of Anthony Davis, who landed with the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason after requesting a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans.
The reason: Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, basically orchestrated the deal, signaling to teams other than the Lakers that Davis would leave as a free agent in the summer of 2020 if they traded for him.
As such, Paul doesn’t blame Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge — who reportedly coveted Davis for years — for balking at the Pelicans’ asking price, which presumably included Jayson Tatum.
“The last thing you want to do is put a GM in a situation where he trades away an asset and then the guy walks out the door,” Paul recently told ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin. “Like, you can’t do business that way. So it’s not really a hard conversation to have.
“And I don’t think it stopped Danny Ainge from trying. It’s just that maybe he didn’t have the deal (he wanted). He wasn’t willing to give up the young players, which I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t give them up either if the guy is not going to re-sign.”
The Lakers ultimately acquired Davis from the Pelicans in exchange for the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, as well as a 2021 first-rounder protected Nos. 9-30 (which becomes unprotected in 2022), first-round swap rights in 2023 and a 2024 first-rounder with the option to defer to 2025.
The deal came together after the Pelicans shockingly landed the No. 1 overall pick in 2019 via the lottery, giving them the opportunity to select Duke phenom Zion Williamson. New Orleans subsequently traded the No. 4 pick it received from Los Angeles to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the No. 8, No. 17 and No. 35 picks and a heavily protected 2020 first-rounder.
“(Davis) wanted to go to two places: New York or L.A,” Paul told McMenamin. “After the draft (lottery), I was able to see where everything lies. The fact that (the Pelicans) were going to get the first pick caused me to understand that it softened the blow of losing Anthony Davis because the organization could still have some momentum.
The Lakers are coming off a disappointing 2018-19 season in which they went 37-45 mere months after landing LeBron James, who’s also represented by Paul. Their hope obviously is that the addition of Davis will return Los Angeles to prominence in the Western Conference.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are entering the new campaign with a reshaped roster of their own after losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford but adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.