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There’s a growing belief that rival teams are trying to sabotage Lakers using media

LeBron James, Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers controlling-owner Jeanie Buss has shared similar sentiments to president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who believed the New Orleans Pelicans did not act in good faith when engaging in trade talks for Anthony Davis.

Sam Amick of The Athletic highlighted the growing belief that rival teams have the intent to sabotage the Lakers’ free agency plans by ways of bad press.

“…The frustration on Jeanie’s front, quite clearly, was born out of the perceived disconnect between what was reported and what they claim actually happened in those pre-Feb. 7 trade deadline talks between Johnson and subsequently-fired Pelicans general manager Dell Demps. But the he-said-she-said game is impossible to unpack in public – politics and league rules keep people from speaking plainly, you know – and so this became a public relations situation that was inherently difficult.

Yet, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the real root of the comments was much more nuanced than it might have appeared. From Jeanie on down, there is a growing belief that rival teams like New Orleans have gone to great lengths to do the kind of subversive damage that is nearly impossible to prove. Johnson himself has said that he doesn’t believe the Pelicans negotiated in good faith, and it certainly was unique to see trade packages with remarkable specificity being reported throughout the process.”

The Pelicans knew just how bad the Lakers wanted Davis before the trade deadline, as evidenced by the dumfounding timing of the talisman’s trade request and the consequent leak of it two-and-a-half days after the New Orleans-based star told management he had no intention of signing.

Davis’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, clearly used the maneuver in efforts to strong-arm the Pelicans into a trade with the Lakers, knowing the Boston Celtics were restricted from making a play for Davis due to the “Rose Rule.”

New Orleans then fired back by refusing to take calls, only to later act as an active listener, while several trade packages were then leaked to the media — making this all the more damaging.

The Lakers have the right to be upset about how trade talks were handled, dealing with rather hostile negotiations — but in the Pelicans’ viewpoint, this is only fighting fire with fire, as Davis and his agent played a backway to force this trade, only to get heavy countermeasures in return.