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Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry: When Anthony Davis hired Rich Paul, I knew trade request was coming

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 14: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans and head coach Alvin Gentry talk during the first half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Smoothie King Center on February 14, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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Anthony Davis insisted hiring Rich Paul – LeBron James’ agent and someone known for hardline negotiations – didn’t mean Davis would leave the Pelicans.

Of course, Davis requested a trade, ideally to the Lakers. Paul steered his client to Los Angeles to team up with LeBron.

That doesn’t prove Davis hired Paul to leave New Orleans. But it looks that way and even looked that way without the benefit of hindsight – including to Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry.

Gentry, via Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

“I’m a realist,” Gentry says. “When Anthony signed with Klutch Sports, I knew what was going to happen. They told me, ‘No, we’re not trying to get him traded,’ but we all realized it was just a matter of time.
“I understand that some players feel the need to move on. With Anthony, it could have and should have been handled differently. If it was, I would have been OK with the situation.”

After Davis hired Paul, Gentry was also vehement the Pelicans wouldn’t trade Davis.

I understand why he said that. He was trying to convey a sense of calm. His role as coach includes keeping the team focused on winning, not other distractions.

But especially if Gentry believed all along a Davis trade request was inevitable, we probably shouldn’t trust Gentry’s characterizations of team dynamics anymore.