Heisler: Lakers set to go every which way as Anthony Davis makes it official

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersOops. Hold the phone.That’s what Pelicans GM Dell Demps did last week when Lakers GM Rob Pelinka rang him up, refusing to even return his calls.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.The Pelicans also deleted A.D. from the pre-game video clip on their scoreboard, which showed every other player on the roster, before their loss to Denver on Wednesday, which dropped them to No. 13 in the Western Conference standings.Hey, imagine being in their place. Fall in love with young Chris Paul. Lose him to the Clippers. Pick up the pieces of your broken heart with A.D. Lose him to whomever.It’s safe to assume the Pelicans are convinced LeBron James is stealing A.D. in a massive tampering conspiracy and will try to send him anywhere but to the Lakers. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, they control nothing in this but the schedule. They are insisting on doing this on their timetable, not A.D.’s, which means waiting until summer when the Celtics can get in it.Boston is now frozen out with Kyrie Irving on the enhanced “designated” extension to his rookie contract, as Davis is, with teams allowed to have only one at a time.The Celtics can join in when Kyrie opts out of the final year of his contract on July 1, and they are trying to get the Pelicans to wait.“I think Boston has sent a message to the Pelicans,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said.“ ‘Be patient. Wait for us. We are going to be in this, and we’re going to be willing to talk about essentially everyone on our roster outside Kyrie Irving.’ ”“Essentially everyone” means Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ prize prospect who broke out as a rookie with Irving hurt last spring, leading the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.Including Tatum in a deal would probably send Davis to Boston.Of course, the big story isn’t in yet:Where does Davis want to go?Is it the Lakers?Is he as open to playing in Boston?Is any other team viable?With his contract up in 2010, A.D.’s preference has driven this all along. Without an indication he would re-sign in Boston, GM Danny Ainge isn’t likely to offer Tatum.There are no secrets in this. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that Boston is not a “preferred destination” for Davis.On top of that, Davis’ father, Anthony Sr., said he doesn’t want his son to play for Boston because of the way it treated Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics’ star of two seasons ago who was then traded to Cleveland … for Irving.“No loyalty,” Davis Sr., told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “Guy gives his heart and soul and they traded him. … This is just my opinion, not Anthony’s. I’ve just seen things over the years with Boston and there’s no loyalty.”The A.D. Saga is now overflowing into the Celtics’ Kyrie Saga, with Davis’ people reportedly saying A.D. doesn’t want to go to Boston because he thinks Irving will leave.The Knicks, hearing the buzz and dreaming of signing Kyrie and his pal, Kevin Durant, promptly traded Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas to create a second maximum salary slot to make that possible.And we still have five more days until Thursday’s deadline!This story has been on rails since fall, tracking exactly as it looked like it would.If you started out assuming that Davis was eyeing the Lakers when he fired his agent to hire LeBron’s guy, Paul, you have been right on everything that has happened with plot points like A.D. and LeBron going out to dinner after their Dec. 21 game here.Of course, even if the players and their representatives are in charge, there’s a limit to what they can get away with. Announcing Davis’ post-Pelicans plans in the press while under contract to them was unprecedented, suggesting that A.D. has gone from arch-loyal to frantic to get out before Thursday’s trade deadline.The NBA, which had let players muse about each other to their heart’s content, fined Davis $50,000, making him its first player ever cited for tampering.The fine is nothing compared to what the NBA will do if it finds out that real tampering – which is surely going on – is going on.Happily for all involved in Lakerdom … and you know who you are … tampering is almost always verbal and all but impossible to prove (assuming you aren’t caught texting the wrong thing, as Pelinka was with Paul George’s agent).The big exception came in 2000 with a relatively minor violation, a cap-skirting contract between Minnesota and journeyman Joe Smith that surfaced in a lawsuit between agents. With rare proof of the behavior that his owners claimed to abhor but routinely did, Commissioner David Stern nuked the Wolves, taking their next five first-round draft picks.With the Lakers favored to land A.D., there’s the usual hue and cry about players running everything … which, of course, they are and have been doing increasingly since free agency arrived in 1988.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Even if Davis wants to be a Laker, Paul had reason not to mention that part with everyone already sure the fix is in and LeBron is behind it … which, I believe, is true.Here’s where the Lakers are:If Davis really wants to join them, they surely know that by now.If so, the smart option is to wait for summer when they can use their maximum salary slot to sign a free agent like Kawhi Leonard and acquire A.D., too.Trading for Davis now cuts their cap space into the $20 million range, less than elite free agents command. The Lakers would be left with LeBron and A.D., a formidable duo, but one of them would be 34, going on 35 in December, in his 16th season.In the meantime, the Lakers have a coach to put out of his misery after ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan noted that “James’ people” are now signaling that LeBron wants Walton gone.LeBron’s preferences drive everything in Lakerdom these days, In other words, nice knowing you, Luke.When Johnson went off on Walton at the seven-game mark, James’ people signaled something different, that LeBron wasn’t involved.Jeanie Buss has since tried to protect Walton, but LeBron apparently realizes the obvious: With Johnson gashing his young coach amid reports that he wants someone fiery and charismatic like Magic’s old coach, Pat Riley, Luke was already a goner.Fair or not, it’s inevitable and has been for months.“We choose this,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of the coaching profession. “That’s what we have to live with …“I think it does make your job harder when that stuff happens. It’s just not right. I think he (Walton) is doing a terrific job when you have that many injuries.“At the end of the day, we accept it, we know in our job it happens and there’s nothing you can do about it.”Or, welcome to the rest of the Lakers’ season.Even more than Walton’s peril, the Davis story has loomed over them. Despite the polite things their players are obliged to say, they’re all worrying about a post-Lakers future.Related Articles This just in: A.D. dropped the big one on N.O.Things move fast these days. By the time Anthony Davis told the New Orleans Pelicans he wanted to be traded, everyone had been expecting it for months.Last week’s announcement by A.D.’s agent, Rich Paul, just made it official, moving up the schedule so that a trade could go down any time between now and July 1.Now watch the purple and gold-clad bodies begin to fly as the Lakers go all-out to land Davis sooner rather than later … oh, and as they prepare to dump Coach Luke Walton, who was hired to nurture the young guys and will no longer be needed for that. Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Some are closer to the blade than others … starting with Lonzo Ball, whom the Pelicans reportedly like … meaning he’s likely New Orleans-bound.Ball, on the other hand, reportedly hopes to end up in New York or Chicago … or Phoenix.Guess again.As nice as Lonzo is, there’s a price to pay for growing up with his father, LaVar, braying grandiloquent nonsense in his ear.Lonzo’s on a five-year rookie contract through 2021, giving him no control of anything. Unless he becomes a better player than he is now, free agency won’t give him his choice of mega-markets.Wild as last week was, and this one could be leading up to Thursday’s deadline, it’s a warm-up for summer when all that looms comes down on everyone, at last. 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