Trade deadline aftermath has a lasting impact on the NBA


After an eventful NBA offseason and exciting first half of the season, some players and teams remain unsatisfied with their current situation and rosters. As a result of this discontentment, both teams and players have made big decisions in the eleventh hour.

At noon on Thursday, February 7th, teams were no longer allowed to make trades, solidifying their rosters for the upcoming second half of the season. The trade rumors that came to light, as well as the deals that were made at the deadline, displayed the dissatisfaction of players and teams. Although the deadline has closed, unsettled business and blockbuster moves can still shock the league come this offseason.

29 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists is a statistically below average game for budding superstar Anthony Davis. Recently the 25-year-old six-time all star’s trade request went public, earning himself the headline of the sports media scene and a $50,000 dollar fine. The fine was a slap on the wrist for the star who makes over $310,000 a game (82 game season) from his NBA contract. However, the illegal release of this information reveals more than just Davis’s wealth.

For a lot of NBA analysts, the writing was on the wall when Davis signed with Rich Paul, a close friend and representative of Lakers forward Lebron James, to be his agent. Insiders even report Davis and James going out to dinner to discuss future plans of teaming up in Los Angeles. These events, in addition to Davis’s request, have the community speculating and fantasizing about a Lebron James and Anthony Davis duo. Fans are hopeful and excited for the potential duo.

Justice Thomas (‘21), WSC varsity basketball point guard, said “The addition will make the Lakers better, more exciting and the new favorites. In the past, Anthony Davis has shown that he can lead teams.” Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans are infuriated with what they believe is tampering and the mistreatment of small market teams on the part of Lebron James.

Due to a rookie contract extension taken by both Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis called the Rose Rule, Irving and Davis are prohibited from being teammates until their deals expire. As a result, the Boston Celtics are not allowed to make a trade offer to the Pelicans that does not include Irving. Because the Celtics wish to pair the two players together, they are handicapped from making an offer until this offseason when Irving becomes a free agent.

Boston has the most to offer New Orleans in a trade for Davis, since they have been accumulating assets for seasons now, and general manager Danny Ainge has wanted Davis on the team for a very long time. Their trade assets include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the Grizzlies’ first-round picks for the next three years, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, and more. These rule gave the Lakers until the deadline to make an offer without having Boston as a competitor. However, as NBA analyst and reporter Adrian Wojnarowski puts it: “Trade deadline passes – and Boston will get its chance to trade for Anthony Davis.”

Although the Lakers were stacked on assets with young players like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and more, the Pelicans refused to make any deals or even hear any offers until this offseason when all 29 teams are eligible to make offers. This decision has left Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka empty handed coming out of the expired deadline.

Their inability to acquire Davis has become an issue that reaches beyond their lack of a second star. After the Lakers’ trade packages had been leaked, the young players who were a part of the offers for Davis have responded with resentment. Their first game following the package being made public was a 42 point loss to the Indiana Pacers. NBA legend Gilbert Arenas explained it perfectly when he said, “If the trade doesn’t happen it [expletive] up so much chemistry.”

The destruction of the Lakers’ chemistry was clear during the game when Lebron James, the only untradeable asset on the Lakers roster, sat on the end of the bench alone. Some NBA analysts even hypothesize that the Pelicans set up the Lakers for this chemistry crash by leaking offers and not accepting deals in an attempt to get payback for what they believe to be tampering.

Despite Davis’s greatness as a consensus top seven players in the NBA, teams lack an incentive to give up their assets to trade for him because of his expiring contract. After next season, Davis will be a free agent allowing him to sign on whatever team he wants, regardless of where he is traded. For the Lakers who are confident they can catch big fish like Davis in free agency, that is great news.

For the Pelicans, on the other hand, who are on the verge of losing their franchise player for a depleted value, this news is terrible. Small market teams who struggle with the inability to sign free agents or retain their star player have complained that trade demands like this are bad for the league. Michael Chai (‘22), however, argues that “Anthony Davis’ request is due to the organization’s bad moves like their inability to resign Rajon Rondo or Demarcus Cousins, not their small market alone.”

Contrary to his request, Anthony Davis is still a Pelican. Although he does not want to be on the team, the NBA is forcing the Pelicans to play him, and if they do not, the team will be fined. In addition, about a week after the deadline, the Pelicans fired their general manager Dell Demps whose tenure with New Orleans lasted eight seasons.

Future policies regarding players overriding their agreed contracts and pubically requesting trades against the league rules will likely include harsher punishment because the current fines for violators currently are not a strong enough deterrent. For the Pelicans, suspect them to limit Davis’s minutes to protect his trade value for an upcoming blockbuster this offseason.