LOS ANGELES (AFP) - New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry didn’t mince his words Friday in declaring that star Anthony Davis won’t be traded, and he didn’t appreciate Lakers superstar LeBron James’s comments on the matter.
“We’re not trading him,” Gentry told reporters at a morning shootaround before the Pelicans were due to take on the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday night.
And Gentry said James’s recent comments — saying it would be “amazing” to play alongside Davis — as tampering, defined by the NBA as attempting to entice a player under contract to negotiate with another team regarding his services.
“It’s tampering,” Gentry said. “Why is it not tampering if players are saying it.
“I thought if you talk about a player under contract, it was tampering. But that’s just me. I’ve only been in the league 31 years, what do I know?”
Gentry’s ire may have ratcheted up the tension before the Friday night clash, but it wasn’t clear if either James or Davis would be playing, with both listed by their teams as ailing.
In response to James’s comments, Davis told ESPN he appreciated the compliment but was focused on building up the Pelicans.
“It’s cool to hear any high-caliber player say they want to play with me,” said the 25-year-old big man, who is under contract with New Orleans for two more seasons. “But my job is to turn this team around. If we’re 15-17, that means I’m not doing my job.”
James isn’t the only NBA player to speak publicly about Davis’s talents.
NBA.com reported that Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo lightheartedly urged Davis to “come to the Bucks” after Milwaukee’s Wednesday night victory over the Pelicans.
ESPN reported Friday that several unnamed general managers had “expressed outrage” over what they believe is the NBA’s unwillingness to enforce rules against tampering.