When Anthony Davis requested a trade in Jan. 2019 from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers, many felt it was Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul simply forcing their hand to get his client to a bigger market.
And while there may be a slight hint of truth to that, Paul did not invent the trade request and it was actually meant to help the team receive some compensation instead of Davis walking in 2020 NBA free agency.
But as always, there will be detractors when people request to be traded as some will always see it as a player not upholding their end of a deal. However, Davis was right to want out. He had given the Pelicans seven unbelievable seasons and only had one second round appearance to show for it. And when his good friend and teammate DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles, the Pelicans let him walk in free agency, which upset Davis and teammate Rajon Rondo.
Paul continues to defend Davis’ choice to this day, according to Clay Skipper of GQ:
They didn’t understand the situation he was in. They didn’t play in the place for however many years and feel as if there was a change needed. A lot of times the people around sports discredit certain things because it is a sport. And growing up, sporting is recreational, all the way up until you get to this point, where it’s a billion-dollar fucking business.
Paul went into further depth, saying that Davis felt he had to do too much for the Pelicans without ever receiving something good in return, like a championship-contending team:
From AD’s perspective, he just felt it was time for change. There’s nothing wrong with that. As a player, the side that people don’t see is like, okay, yeah, I can go out and score 40 every night, but I can’t make you put certain things around me because I don’t have that power. I have to bet on you to do so. And in the event that I’m good enough that, if I feel that’s not happening, and I can change something? Then I’ll change it. Or I’ll seek to change it.
Paul and Davis may have forced the Pelicans’ hand, so those criticisms have always had a bit of truth to them. However, the Pelicans got a major haul for Davis, one they never would’ve gotten had he not requested that trade.
On the other hand, Davis also got what he wanted, a chance at a championship in a big market with an All-Star teammate. In this blockbuster deal, there truly was two winners.