NBA power agent Rich Paul explained to Anthony Davis the limits of the Pelicans’ future ahead of his infamous trade request
NBAAgent Rich Paul said he had “educated” Anthony davison the future of pelicans before commercial demand.
- Paul suggested the Pels didn’t have enough good players or the flexibility and willingness to spend.
- Davis’s trade demand was ugly, but he eventually landed with his favorite team, the Lakers.
When Anthony Davis decided it was time to leave the New Orleans Pelicans, it may have been pushed a bit by his agent, Rich Paul.
Paul, the founder of the Klutch agency
Paul said, via Chotiner: “‘I educated [Davis] why I thought the team wouldn’t. . . ‘ He stopped himself. “All the athletes are competitive and confident, until reality sets in. And I educated him on things.”
Paul explained what superstars need to see in teams to commit for the long haul.
“Either you need your team in place, or you need flexibility, assets, money and the ability to make decisions. And, more importantly, the willingness to pay the price [luxury] tax … It’s not “Moneyball”.
Paul was referring to a team ready to compete, with future flexibility to improve the team, and willing to pay the so-called luxury tax for expenses exceeding the salary cap. According to Chotiner, the Pelicans were unwilling to pay it at the time and therefore kept their payrolls below a certain level.
Davis’ commercial demand has disturbed some corners of the NBA world
On January 28, 2019, ESPN reported that Paul informed the Pelicans that Davis wished to be traded. Davis’s commercial demand was surprising, but not entirely unexpected.
As with many NBA superstars, the proverbial clock was ticking, as Davis was scheduled to enter free agency in the summer of 2020.
With the Pelicans seemingly stuck in the NBA dead zone – not good enough to make the playoffs, not bad enough to get the No.1 pick – much of the NBA world was watching Davis’ future.
Yet for some, the request violated some sort of unspoken rule: asking for a trade with more than a year remaining on a contract.
In the past, some players had requested trades before the final year of the deal, using their impending free agency as leverage to be dealt where they wanted, lest a team lose them for nothing in the offseason.
Davis, however, still had a year and a half on his contract.
Additionally, Paul has made it known that Davis will not be signing expansions with specific teams, including the Boston Celtics, a team that has long been said to target Davis via trade. This limited where the Pelicans could trade Davis and what they could get in return.
Davis was not dealt with before this season’s trade deadline, but the consequences of the request have been lousy. The Pelicans, with no incentive to win, played Davis sparingly. Davis, unwilling to risk injury, gave less than his usual effort. The NBA fined the Pelicans for resting a healthy player. Meanwhile, the Lakers, Davis’ favorite destination and the favorite to land him, have collapsed amid chemistry issues caused by trade rumors. Much of the blame has been directed against LeBron James, who is a childhood friend of Paul and uses him as his agent. James had been open about his desire to play with Davis.
In a twist of fate, the Pelicans clinched the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, and therefore the rights of Zion Williamson. Davis was traded to the Lakers weeks later for a massive transport that included the rights of five first-round draft picks and three young players.
Davis and Paul’s methods may have created a future plan for disgruntled NBA stars. Back in December and January, James Harden asked the Houston Rockets for a trade. He skipped the start of training camp, then made a half-hearted effort on the floor, creating such discord in the squad that the Rockets gave in and traded him to the Brooklyn Nets.
An NBA general manager told Chotiner of Paul: he is absolutely relentless in getting his players what they want, and he will use any means at his disposal to do so. “