Remember all that reported acrimony between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers over Anthony Davis trade talks at the deadline?
Apparently none of it mattered.
Pelicans executive president of basketball operations David Griffin, who joined New Orleans in April, traded Davis to the Lakers anyway in June, leaving other suitors like the Boston Celtics out in the cold.
In a recent interview with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Griffin suggested the Lakers were always the clear favorite to land Davis because of the big man's desire to sign with L.A. in free agency next summer.
"We were really fortunate that Rich Paul was representing LeBron James, and the Lakers need(ing) to put another star with LeBron sort of dovetailed with the fact that Anthony had picked the time he had picked to want to move on," Griffin told Wojnarowski. "There was really only one destination (L.A.) where they were confident he would sign."
That meant any other trade partner ran the risk of relinquishing key assets for just one year of Davis. The Toronto Raptors took that gamble with Kawhi Leonard last offseason and saw it pay off with an NBA title, but Griffin suggested the Celtics were less willing to take that gamble, even if landing Davis may have convinced Kyrie Irving to stay in Boston.
"We were in a situation where it was clear that Anthony was ready to move on, and it wasn't clear that he was willing to stay anywhere other than L.A.," Griffin added. "So, I think that probably played into Boston's thinking more than the Kyrie aspect of it, because Boston intended to stay elite. They wanted to compete at the highest level. I think the risk factor of him not staying put the trade conversations more in the space of those other deals we talked about."
If it's any consolation prize for the Celtics, their interest in Davis may have forced the Lakers to pay more for the superstar. Griffin added the Pelicans "had our sights set a little higher" in trade talks with L.A., in part due to the leverage other suitors like the C's provided.
Boston pivoted quickly after whiffing on Davis, replacing Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker and adding an intriguing rookie class to the young Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown duo. Based on Griffin's comments, that may have been the right strategy, as it seems AD was determined to go to L.A. from the outset.
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