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Anthony Davis: ‘I’d take legacy over money’

The rumors of Anthony Davis being traded from the Pelicans to the Celtics or Lakers are the top storylines in the NBA, but there's nothing to them until Davis turns down the Pelicans' offer.

Anthony Davis cannot be a free agent until the summer of 2020. Yet the buzz about where he will play his basketball in the future has reached a fever pitch at the end of 2018 because the NBA has become as much about trades, player movement, and what happens off the court as what does on it. If not more.

When it comes time for Davis to choose where he plays for his next contract — and that could be July of 2020, don’t bet on a trade before then even if Davis rejects the $239 million designated veteran contract extension — it will not be all about the money, Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“I’d take legacy over money,” Davis told Yahoo Sports after posting game highs of 30 points and 20 rebounds to go with five assists in Friday’s loss. “I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time.”

Haynes also reports that Davis and LeBron went to dinner together in Los Angeles on Friday night after the Lakers’ win. Davis and LeBron now share an agent in Rich Paul and Klutch Sports.

Does that make the Lakers the early frontrunners to land Davis? Maybe. But it’s far too early to make that bet.

The Pelicans are not trading Davis at February’s trade deadline, sources with direct knowledge of the situation have told NBC Sports — which echoes what Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry said on the record. The Lakers are wise to hype up the trade talk right now, to put pressure Davis and the Pelicans because the Celtics can’t get involved in the trade talks until July (teams can’t trade for two players on “Rose Rule” rookie contract extensions and they already traded for Kyrie Irving). Just don’t expect New Orleans to cave to that pressure. They want to keep Davis, the Pelicans are very active on the trade market right now as buyers trying to boost their team and make it a place Davis wants to play.

If Davis turns down the $239 million contract extension this July the Pelicans will have to consider trade options rather than lose him for nothing in 2020. Davis could sign a five-year, $190 million extension with any team he is traded to, or a four-year, $139 million extension with another team in 2020.

If Davis rejects the contract extension the Pelicans could keep him and try to continue to win him over — something sources hinted the Pelicans will consider — or they will trade him quickly, near the start of July. The latter is what most sources around the league expect.

What uniform Davis will wear when he signs his next contract is something nobody knows right now. Davis included. But if he wants to be a Laker, he’ll be a Laker.

And LeBron knows how to make his case. He’s doing just that.

Is that tampering? Some smaller market GMs say yes, but LeBron responded to them Friday, again via Yahoo.

“They can’t control me at all. And I play by the rules.”