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The Scarlet Agency: How The Pelicans Have Gained Control of The Narrative

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Published: February 2, 2019

It was late Friday night when the bombshells started dropping. Shams, then Woj, then Shams, then Woj again. Outside of head coach Alvin Gentry being thrust into media scrums due to league obligated duties, the Pelicans organization in large part remained quiet this whole week. They watched patiently as Davis’s representation, Rich Paul, galavanted with NBA media and executives alike, imparting a very clear message – Davis wants to be a Laker, buyer beware. They also watched Davis deny and deflect in front of a herd of reporters as he made his first media appearance since his trade request. Nevermind that the NBA investigated Davis and his representation, fining them $50,000 for an on-the-record request, because Davis says he never issued an ultimatum. Nevermind that it is widely reported that each team that calls Paul to gain a pulse is told Davis will be rental and will walk for Los Angeles, because Davis says he never gave a preferred destination. You see, this is all convenient for Davis, because in his mind it absolves him of responsibility when his father texts a national reporter a mere hours later,

 

“I would never want my son the play for Boston after what they done to Isaiah Thomas…NO LOYALTY”.

 

The Pelicans watched that too. When people thought the dust finally settled, at least for the time being, the Pelicans launched an offensive that wielded the two biggest reporters covering the NBA as a set of boxing gloves. Their message was clear too – all bets are off.

 

Let’s talk about what the Pelicans did here and the subtle, yet not so subtle brilliance of it. In the first set of reports shared with Shams and Wojnarowski, the Pelicans let it be known the Lakers offers have not been “remotely serious” or “worth considering or responding to”. This was an appetizer – designed to capture the attention of thousands who were experiencing an otherwise low-key Friday night by NBA standards. Once all eyes were glued to their phones and jokes began to fly, the Pelicans began to name names.

 

In the Lakers first offer to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis, LA offered Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and a first-round pick, league sources tell ESPN

 

Simultaneously, Shams was being told that,  The Lakers have offered the Pelicans two of their talented young players — among Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram,  Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart — with Rondo or Stephenson as core parts of a deal”.

All hell broke loose. The best player on the trade market since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is trying to do everything he can to get to the Lakers and the best they can be bothered to offer are 2 young players, Rajon Rondo, and Lance Stephenson as core parts? Are they insane? More than shining a light on the organizational incompetence of the Lakers, the Pelicans’ messaging had secondary and tertiary goals. As much as anything, the Pelicans are signaling to LeBron – this is how little effort the Lakers are putting in to get you the support you need at this stage in your career. The last thing the Lakers want is a disgruntled LeBron applying internal pressure on an already complex situation. Moreover, the Pelicans are sending a direct message to every player named in the offers – you are not safe. Vet and youngster alike, you are on the market and the Lakers will drop you the moment they get the opportunity. It is a clear destabilization tactic. The Lakers are trying to pull off the biggest trade in the modern era, the last thing they want is angry agents demanding to know what is happening with their clients.

 

But the destabilization didn’t stop there. In one final report, the Pelicans neatly tied in the agency that has been at the nexus of this all – Klutch Sports.

 

Sources with The Athletic’s Pelicans reporter @WillGuillory: One player the Lakers have not placed in discussions with Pelicans for Anthony Davis (besides LeBron James): Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

For those who may not know, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is another Rich Paul client. In a single report, the Pelicans have painted the giant scarlet letter that is Klutch all over every party involved in this situation. The implication is clear – Klutch is running the show. For the simpletons that care to point out that Caldwell-Pope was not included in the offer because of his no-trade clause – that is precisely the point. When an organization needs to approach a player to discuss potentially waiving the clause, they negotiate through the agent. Who is the agent in this situation? Why can’t the Lakers have this discussion with them? Oh yeah. Klutch. So either the Lakers are a spineless organization, manipulated by the whim of LeBron and his agency, or they are complicit in everything Klutch has done so far in the Davis situation. It’s a bad look either way. And as for Klutch, if they wanted to get Davis to hollywood so desperately, what is stopping them letting the Lakers put Caldwell-Pope on the table? Whose interests are they really looking out for here? It’s a question Davis has to ask himself.

 

Just as the Pelicans had every opportunity to build a contender around Davis, Davis and his camp had every opportunity to not make this a messy and public affair. Instead, they actively chose to take it to the media and happily ate a fine they knew was coming all so Rich Paul could pull every lever to pair Davis with his premier client and longtime friend, LeBron James. You want to play for a bigger market and want a better chance to win? Sure, you have every right to do so. You want to spend a week progressively creating a media circus? By all means, be my guest. But don’t act surprised when the Pelicans decide to take the narrative in their own hands. If it were me, I would take it one step further. Remove Davis from all team related activities on the court. Jason does a beautiful job here of outlining the risks and benefits of making such a decision. It’s not exactly a great look for one’s legacy if they sit out half a season and miss out on All-NBA all because they decided to create a public commotion. Nevertheless, the Pelicans have surreptitiously done an admirable job of messaging this week – from handing the keys of the franchise to Jrue Holiday, to Friday night’s tweet barrage. Something tells me they aren’t done yet.

2 Comments

  1. Paul Page

    February 2, 2019 at 11:11 am

    Very good article. I’ve thought many times that a lot of issues have with our front office are unfair, using 20-20 hindsight on deals that looked really good at the time they were made. We’ve been victims of injuries multiple years (is ANYONE looking at our strength-and-conditioning areas of the franchise?), which has hampered efforts to improve. The kiss-of-death seemed to be when Boogie rejected a big deal to take an almost-minimum contract, which severely hamstrung the franchise from both a salary cap perspective as well as the young assets we gave up to get him in the first place. Does that make the Boogie trade a bad one? It sure seemed, at the time, that everyone was talking about how the Pelicans fleeced the Kings, so to answer that question as “yes” is duplicitous and an example of the 20-20 hindsight I referenced.

    One of these days, the Lakers are going to realize they keep missing out on potential superstars because of their low-balling tactics. If I were Davis, I wouldn’t want to play for any team that has LeBron on it, especially at his age, for that very reason – there will NEVER be enough talent around to satisfy LBJ, nor will his ideas of ignoring the Cap ever get him where he needs to be.

    So long, A.D. – it was fun while it lasted. You could’ve been a real leader here, but IQ (basketball or otherwise) has never been your biggest asset.

  2. Jess

    February 2, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    What an epic article. The Lakers and Rich Paul are clearly colluding here to get AD to LA by any means necessary. Unfortunately for them, they won’t get their wish and furthermore they will find their reputation in tatters when the dust settles.

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