The 2018-19 NBA trade deadline was nothing short of dramatic and stressful for the Los Angeles Lakers front office — and especially the players.
Anthony Davis‘ trade request spurred the Lakers to try and make a trade for him, but they were unable to as the New Orleans Pelicans seemed to up their demands with every offer presented.
Los Angeles reportedly was willing to trade their entire young core as well as multiple draft picks, but New Orleans still was unwilling to trade Davis. As a result, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka walked away from discussions and they never seemed to pick back up as Feb. 7 neared.
With all the reports, Johnson met with the team to address the situation prior to the Philadelphia 76ers loss, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I talked to guys individually,” Johnson said. “Because that’s important to have sidebars with them. Make sure that we’re heading all in the same direction. And we are. And we got a goal ahead of us to try to make the playoffs. That’s what it’s all about.”
Players on the roster seemed on edge in the last couple of weeks as every one of them minus LeBron James was available in a potential trade for Davis. These talks may have been one of the reasons the Lakers played arguably their worst game of the 2018-2019 NBA season against the Indiana Pacers.
Johnson and Pelinka have been transparent about their plans to add a second All-Star player and talks of them acquiring Davis will persist up until he is expectedly dealt in the offseason. For now, however, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball can finally rest knowing they are safe for the remainder of the season.
Without Davis, James will likely need to play his best in order for the Lakers to end their five-year playoff drought. At 28-28 and 2.5 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, it may be the greatest challenge of his career.