LeBron: ‘I would love to play with a lot of great players’

LeBron James and the Lakers are clearly hoping to land Pelicans star big man Anthony Davis.

One of the greatest scorers in the history of the NBA played some defense Friday night.

After he and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates defeated the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center, 112-104, LeBron James defended his statements about wanting to play with Pelicans star Anthony Davis, listing names of several other star players to do so.

Most players would love for the team to trade for a talent like New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, and count the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James among them.

“That would be amazing, like, duh,” James told ESPN of Los Angeles potentially trading for Davis. “That would be incredible.”

When informed after Friday’s game against Davis and the Pelicans there has been some blowback for talking about another player under contract, James told reporters, “So?”

“What’d I do?” James said. “What did I do? Was it right or wrong?”

A reporter then asked James if he’d like to play with Golden State star Kevin Durant, he quickly responded, “Absolutely.”

James then went on to quickly name other standout players he’d enjoy playing with.

“Ask me if I’d like to play with Jimmy Butler,” he said. “Say it right now. Ask me about Kyrie Irving, Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid, Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now.

“Come on, guys, this is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely. I would love to play with a lot of great players. That is just who I am. People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me, at all.

“And I play by the rules.”

James, who had 22 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists and two steals in the win in 39 minutes, said he was not surprised about the reaction to his comments regarding wanting to play with Davis, who had 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot in 39 minutes.

“Of course not, no,” James said. “Anything I say will generate something.”An ESPN report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said general managers of several small-market teams were outraged by what they believe is the NBA’s unwillingness to enforce the league’s rules against tampering after James’ remarks about tampering.

The Lakers have been fined by the Lakers twice in the last two years for tampering, $500,000 for Paul George and $50,000 for Antetokounmpo. However, the NBA has not gone as far as to fine individual players.

An NBA spokesman told Wojnarowski on Friday night that James did not commit what would be classified as tampering.

“Each case is assessed on its own facts,” the spokesman said. “In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player.”

Davis said he was not affected by James’ desire to play with him.

“I don’t really care,” Davis told Zach Lowe of ESPN of James’ comments Wednesday after the visiting Pelicans lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Obviously, it’s cool to hear any high-caliber player say they want to play with me. But my job is to turn this team around.”

The Pelicans fell to 15-18 with the loss to the Lakers.

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters after the game Friday night that the Pelicans will not be trading Davis, who is under contract through the 2019-20 season. He is also represented by James’ agent, Rich Paul.

“No, we’re not trading him,” Gentry said. “We’re not trading him under any circumstance. You can move on from that one.”