NBA power agent Rich Paul explained to Anthony Davis the limits of the Pelicans' future before his infamous trade request

NBA power agent Rich Paul explained to Anthony Davis the limits of the Pelicans' future before his infamous trade request
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anthony davis 2019
Anthony Davis. Kelvin Kuo/AP Images
  • NBA agent Rich Paul said he "educated" Anthony Davis on the Pelicans' future before trade request.

  • Paul suggested the Pels didn't have enough good players or flexibility and willingness to spend.

  • Davis' trade request was ugly, but he ultimately landed with his preferred team, the Lakers.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

When Anthony Davis decided it was time to leave the New Orleans Pelicans, it may have come with a little prodding from his agent, Rich Paul.

Paul, the founder of the agency Klutch Sports and agent for several superstars like LeBron James, Ben Simmons, and Davis, told The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner that he "educated" Davis on the Pelicans' future.

Paul said, via Chotiner:

"'I educated [Davis] on why I thought the team wouldn't be . . . ' He paused. 'All athletes are competitive and confident, until reality sets in. And I educated him on things.'"

Paul laid out what superstars need to see from teams to give a long-term commitment.

"You either need your team in place, or you need flexibility, assets, money, and the ability to make decisions. And, more important, the willingness to pay the [luxury] tax ... This ain't 'Moneyball.'"

Paul was referring to a team either being ready to compete, having future flexibility to improve the team, and being willing to pay the so-called luxury tax for spending over the salary cap. According to Chotiner, the Pelicans were not willing to pay it at the time and thus kept their payroll below a certain level.

rich paul
Rich Paul. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images

Davis' trade request bothered some corners of the NBA world

On January 28, 2019, ESPN reported that Paul had informed the Pelicans that Davis wanted to be traded.

Davis' trade request was surprising, though not totally unexpected.

As it does for many NBA superstars, the proverbial clock was ticking, as Davis was set to hit free agency in the summer of 2020.

With the Pelicans seemingly stuck in the NBA dead zone - not good enough to compete deep into the playoffs, not bad enough to get the No. 1 pick - much of the NBA world had been monitoring Davis' future.

Still, to some, the request violated a sort of unspoken rule: requesting a trade with more than a year left on a contract.

anthony davis
Anthony Davis with the Pelicans in 2019. Tyler Kaufman/AP

In the past, some players had requested trades heading into 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 left on his contract.

Furthermore, Paul made it known that Davis wouldn't sign extensions with specific teams, including the Boston Celtics, a team long rumored to have been targeting Davis via trade. Doing so limited where the Pelicans could trade Davis and what they could get in return.

Davis wasn't dealt by that season's trade deadline, but the aftermath of the request was ugly. The Pelicans, with no incentive to win, played Davis sparingly. Davis, not wanting to risk injury, gave less than his usual effort. The NBA fined the Pelicans for resting a healthy player.

Meanwhile, the Lakers, Davis' preferred destination and the frontrunner to land him, crumbled amid chemistry issues caused by the trade rumors. Much of the blame was directed at LeBron James, who is childhood friends with Paul and uses him as an agent. James had been open about his desire to play with Davis.

In a twist of fate, the Pelicans landed the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, and thus the rights to Zion Williamson. Davis was traded to the Lakers weeks later for a massive haul that included the rights to five first-round draft picks and three young players.

Davis and Paul's methods may have created a future blueprint for disgruntled NBA stars. This past December and January, James Harden requested a trade from the Houston Rockets. He skipped the beginning of training camp, then gave a half-hearted effort on the floor, creating such disharmony on the team that the Rockets relented and traded him to the Brooklyn Nets.

One NBA GM told Chotiner of Paul: He is absolutely unrelenting in getting his players what they want, and he will use every means available to him to do that."

Read the original article on Insider