A New Orleans Pelicans source indicated Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers were responsible for leaking detailed information about their trade talks in February, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” Charania quoted a Pelicans source with “direct knowledge” of the trade talks.
The Lakers were working hard to obtain Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who requested a trade in January. According to several reports, the Lakers offered their young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and John Hart, first-round draft picks, as well as veterans Lance Stephenson and Rajon Rondo, in various packages.
However, no trade was realized and Davis remains with the Pelicans — and the struggling Lakers continue to trot out the players who were traded. It has clearly impacted Davis, as well as the younger Lakers and Stephenson. The sides are expected to try to deal again during the offseason, though others such as the Boston Celtics expect to also try to entice the Pelicans.
Since the failed trade, the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps and have begun a search for his replacement.
Lakers owner Jeannie Buss called the reports of the Lakers’ offers, “fake news,” but most believe that statement was little more than an attempt at damage control.
The Lakers (30-35) are in danger of missing the playoffs despite landing LeBron James and his eight straight Finals appearances in the offseason. Buss’ indication that the news was created also refuted an earlier Johnson admission that the Lakers had indeed been trying to deal some of the young players.