As the future of Anthony Davis surpassed the Warriors' spat and Whatever The Hell Is Happening With Markelle Fultz as the biggest story in the league, two streams of pushback trickled from concerned NBA citizens:
• The media is chasing clicks.
• LeBron is tampering by saying — in response to a question from ESPN's Dave McMenamin — that it would be "amazing" to play with Davis, and LeBron as Tampering Laker is another bit of evidence that the league is stacked against small markets.
The media did not make this a story. The calendar did. As everyone knows, Davis will be eligible for a five-year, $240 million supermax extension on July 1. Only the Pelicans can offer that. The supermax gives New Orleans a one-year exclusive negotiating window, and a beefed-up dollars advantage.
We are six months away from that. The Pelicans are 15-20. Did anyone really think a middling Pellies season would go by without insiders — media, agents, executives — exploring what Davis might do? The second he declines the supermax — if he does — he effectively becomes a free agent.
Alvin Gentry can proclaim all he wants today that New Orleans isn't trading Davis. It won't be his call. The entire equation will be different when this Pelicans season ends.
LeBron's comments and subsequent leaks — supported hours later by comments from Davis to Yahoo's Chris Haynes — that money will not drive Davis' decision could have freaked the Pelicans into accelerating their timetable on potentially trading him. (Those comments weren't shocking. I have been predicting for months — including most recently in a Dec. 15 television special with Adrian Wojnarowski — that Davis would turn down the supermax if New Orleans offers it. I would still predict that today. Davis' representatives surely know how close they can get to supermax money by cycling through short-term deals until Davis locks in the largest long-term contract — a strategy interested teams expect Davis to follow, sources say.)