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Pelicans’ Gentry defends LeBron James on tampering charge

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.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry made it clear Friday that center Anthony Davis will not be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers or anywhere else as long as he remains under contract to the Pelicans.

Gentry’s stance on comments by Lakers forward LeBron James about Davis was less consistent.

Gentry defended James against allegations of tampering, hours after declaring an interview with ESPN earlier in the week in which James said it would be “amazing” if the Lakers traded for Davis represented an effort to interfere with the Pelicans’ star.

“We keep talking LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James,” Gentry said prior to the game between New Orleans and Los Angeles on Friday night. “He was asked a question and he answered it, you know. If he doesn’t answer it, then you guys talk about him not answering it. If he answers it, then everybody says he’s tampering. I think it puts him in a bad situation.”

Gentry clarified his comments in a reversal from his press conference following the Pelicans’ shoot-around Friday morning in which he said James’ answer about Davis was tampering. “Yes, it is. Why would it not be?” Gentry said earlier on Friday when he was asked if James had committed tampering.

Gentry intimated that players should be held to a different standard when talking about potential future teammates than coaches or league executives discussing potential player acquisitions and signings.

“I’m not a player,” Gentry said. “I’m a coach, so I think it’s a little bit different when you put him in that situation. I’m not sure how he’s supposed to handle it anyway. You asked him a question. He answered. That’s it.”

As for James’ assertion that he would love to play with Davis, the 25-year-old who is averaging 28 points and 12.3 rebounds per game, Gentry said, “Who wouldn’t?”

Davis is under contract with New Orleans through the end of the 2020-21 season, but speculation about a possible move to Los Angeles intensified after he signed with agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group in September, as Paul also represents James.

However, Gentry said Davis would not be leaving New Orleans for the foreseeable future.

“He’s under contract for another year and a half so that’s the easy part on our side,” Gentry said. “We have no intentions of trading him and we’re not going to trade him and that starts at the top all the way from our owner all the way down to the last ball boy on our team.”

At least Gentry seemed to be having fun with the controversy. When asked about Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, who played for Gentry in New Orleans last season, Gentry joking replied, “I can’t talk about him. He’s under contract.”

Gentry then waited a beat. “I had to do that,” he said.