On Jan. 28, 2019, agent Rich Paul notified the New Orleans Pelicans that superstar big man Anthony Davis had no intention of signing a contract extension if and when presented and that he had requested a trade.
After recovering from a left index finger injury, Davis played his first game for the Pelicans on Feb. 8, 2019, following his trade request. As expected, the fans in New Orleans booed Davis in pregame intros and every time he touched the ball on offense:
Loud boos for Anthony Davis during pregame intros pic.twitter.com/Ozvbi6tTSc
— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) February 9, 2019
The Pelicans opted not to trade Davis at the 2019 trade deadline despite having discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. The rest of the 2018-19 season was very awkward for Davis, the Pelicans and Lakers.
A video went viral showing Davis flipping off a Pelicans fan as he was leaving the Smoothie King Arena one night. However, the fan yelled an expletive to Davis and that’s why The Brow flipped him off.
The Pelicans didn’t want to play Davis too much after his trade request since the Chicago native is prone to injuries. AD actually hurt his shoulder against the Oklahoma City Thunder one night and left the Smoothie King Center with Paul.
When TNT aired the video of Davis leaving the Smoothie King Center, it created a firestorm on social media. Davis reportedly told ex-general manager Dell Demps he was leaving the arena, but Demps never told Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry and the coach had to face the reporters right after the game, not knowing where Davis was.
Things were messy on the Lakers, too. Everyone on the team knew they were expendable for Davis except for superstar LeBron James. The youngsters such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma were deeply affected by the trade rumors, as were some of the veterans on the team, per Rajon Rondo:
“Even some of the old guys were affected,” Rondo told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. “I can’t say a name, but I remember me and the guy were on the bench for the Atlanta game right before the [All-Star] break. The guy was cussing and talking bad about the situation during the game. I was like: ‘Snap out of it. That s**t is over with. We’ll get through it. As vets, we have to move forward and not focus on what the young guys are focusing on. Set an example.’ It was a little crazy to see a vet distraught over that.”
Then you had the beef between Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, who was reportedly talking behind Magic’s back. The Pelicans also reportedly preferred to deal directly with Magic instead of Pelinka, who was cut out of Davis trade talks between the Lakers and Pelicans.
Johnson shockingly resigned from his post during an impromptu press conference at Staples Center. He wasn’t comfortable working with Pelinka anymore. However, the Hall of Famer did text Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, Pelinka and special advisor Kurt Rambis to get the Davis trade done as soon as the 2019 offseason started.
The Lakers and Pelicans finally agreed upon an Anthony Davis trade in July of 2019. The Lakers got Davis from New Orleans in exchange for Ball, Hart, Ingram, the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter, two first-round picks, a first-round pick swap right and cash.
As part of the trade, the Lakers also sent Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, Moritz Wagner and a future second-round draft pick to the Washington Wizards, who in return, sent cash consideration to the Pelicans.