Magic Johnson and Dell Demps : Dumd and Dumber
Anthony Davis’s possible trade is also the trade between two General Managers in Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans. Mainly for the worst. All mistakes GM should avoid have been made during this episode. Let’s try to understand what happened until this tragical-comical story. And why Magic Johnson and Dell Demps are Dumd and Dumber.
A great player…
A long time ago, a young rookie played center instead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (injured) in game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. And made a fantastic game : 42 points, 15 rebonds, 7 assists, won the game and the championship ! A NBA superstar was born. 4 NBA titles later, the superstar became a NBA legend.
At his beginnings and during his career, his franchise hired most of the best players, going in Finals 9 times, from 1980 to 1991.
Read also « Kobe Bryant, an egocentric legend »
Contracted HIV, he stopped competition but became a hope for seropositive people. Despite his disease, he won the All-Star Game MVP’s trophy and the gold medal in olympics games with the famous Dream Team in 1992. After a last dance in 1996 as player, he became a brillant businessman and finally president of his former franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers.
…Then President of basketball operations at Lakers
But if Magic Johnson was the amazing master of « Showtime » in the 80’s, he’s not a wise president.
His « big move » : sign LeBron James for four years in 2018. But LeBron James is 34 years old. No longer his amazing athletic skills, he doesn’t have time to wait for win a title with Lakers, as his recent (and longest) injury reminded him.
…Coming to Dumb…
After a summer while Magic mixed young players and veterans, Lakers were an honest team on the paper to start the 2018-2019 season. And before LeBron James’s injury, they played quite well : fourth of the Western Conference. But now, Lakers are tenth in the West (so no playoffs next April so far). It seems young players and Luke Walton, the head coach, are not able to win without James on the floor.
Solution : a big trade to get Anthony Davis, Pelicans player until 2020. But to get Davis, Magic lost his mind : After he offered almost all Lakers players (even Rajon Rondo…) in different trade combinations (except LeBron James, of course), he finally offered to Pelicans Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two first rounders, in exchange of Davis and Solomon Hill!
Even a superstar as Anthony Davis doesn’t worth so many good players. And a champion team takes time to be ready. Brandom Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are future NBA stars : is it really appropriate to attempt to trade them now ? Obviously not.
No matter the next step and the fact Magic said negotiations are done because Pelicans are unreasonable : Lakers team’s self-confidence is sustainably broken. Specially when Luke Walton learnt Jason Kidd could substitute him as coach before the end of 2019 ‘s regular season.
Unlucky for Magic and his generous offer to hire Davis, the general manager (GM) of Pelicans is Dell Demps. Already knew for his inappropriate management (David Stern himself treated Demps of « lousy general manager »). Few examples :
– Demps refused to offer DeMarcus Cousins a big contract last year and Cousins left to the Warriors…
– Demps tries to explode Pelicans team instead to keep Jrue Holiday or Nikola Mirotić in the roaster, despite Jhalil Okafor’s good stats.
– But mainly, the GM refuses 6 Lakers and 2 first rounders to trade Anthony Davis! Find a better counterpart than Lakers offer is absolutely impossible now. And Davis clearly says he won’t continue with Pelicans after his contract. Or maybe Demps will let Davis live with no money or players in exchange in 2020, because he saw a pigeon flight, learning him it’s the choice to do.
LaVar Ball is at sports sphere what Donald Trump is at politic sphere : it’s better when they don’t speak. The only good departure for Lakers would be Lonzo Ball, to keep his father LaVar Ball away from Los Angeles.
Lakers won’t win during James’s area. Because Magic let go D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Isaiah Thomas ( not « GM friendly » anymore after Danny Ainge and Magic Johnson’s episodes…) and could do it again with talented (but still a bit immature) Lakers players.
Maybe LeBron James thinks he can go in Finals his first year as Laker like he did with Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers. Not this year. Not into the Western Conference. Not with Warriors. But also not with « only » Anthony Davis on the floor with him… If the trade with Pelicans happens. If it doesn’t happen, considering transfers rumors, it’s now difficult to imagine Lakers players and staff drink beers together after a winning game.
The different kind or GM in NBA
This episode teach us the four different GM living in NBA :
– patient ones;
– vicious ones as Masai Ujiri;
– patient and vicious ones as Danny Ainge (« After my betray toward Thomas two years ago, I let Kyrie Irving leads Celtics in Finals and let him live from Boston, and next year, I will use Terry Rozier, craving after a hole year as Irving’s back-up, I bet Gordon Hayward will play better and I trade Jayson Tatum to get new players and/or money! Hin! Hin! Hin! Hin! »);