Going down the escalator behind section 107 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, a runner will find himself face to face with a portrait of Anthony Davis stretching out on 30 feet, starting at the level of eyes with the arched forehead of the pelican star at the top, before aligning with his scruffy beard when the escalator ends at street level.
These will be art installations such as this one, as well as items in the team store and digital images of the team's website that the Pelicans will be tasked with cleaning up – as they had already removed Davis from their introductory video – whenever they move. from the All-Star six times.
It will be a tedious but fundamental task at the same time. Pelicans will only have to erase the tangible.
The Los Angeles Lakers, the team so willing to risk everything for The Brow, that they would have offered half of the lineup and some first-round picks to try to acquire it, are still trying to erase the injury that this pursuit cost them. cloakroom.
It's not as easy as taking down a poster and restocking some shelves.
And most importantly, it's not easy when all these emotions can resurface a night like Wednesday when the Lakers beat the Pelicans from Davis 125 to 119 in Los Angeles.
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A few days after the trading deadline, Lakers' president, Magic Johnson, went to Philadelphia to meet the team and sent a message to the media that was part of Jimmy Dugan's "A league to theirs." way, "which echoes the old cliché that the NBA really stands for No Boys Allowed.
"Stop thinking that these guys are babies because that's how you treat them," Johnson said. "They are professionals, all of them, and this is how this league works, they know it, I know it – that's how it happens."
In the visitors locker room in New Orleans on Saturday, before the Lakers lost to the Pelicans by 13, Davis sat on the sidelines, wearing a t-shirt and blazer, Kyle Kuzma – at least externally – depicted the bitter spirit. pro that Johnson has described.
He was asked: Does everything around this game – considering that the Lakers have been linked to Pelicans for months – enter your thinking process?
"No," Kuzma said.
Not at all? Do people ask you questions, friends and family, about this?
"Nope, he's gone a long time."
Thoughts on Davis does not play?
"Nah, I mean, they have their own situation, that's how they manage it, I do not really know about it, so I can not really talk about it."
Others will talk. You wonder if the Lakers sabotaged their season by pursuing Davis as publicly. … falling into one of the many camps criticizing either LeBron James for failing to meet his commitments, either to the young Lakers core for not growing up fast enough, or to the Lakers leadership for not have built the team correctly, or Luke Walton for not having trained them enough.
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Add it all and midway through the first year of LeBron's four-year engagement with L.A., the franchise is at a turning point that could determine how James's era unfolded at Laker Land.
All they can do to improve things in the short term is victory, as they did on Wednesday with Davis in the building. Could it have been embarrassing for the core of the Lakers to wonder if the spectators in the stands of the Staples Center saw Davis score 22 points out of 10 shots on 14 with 8 rebounds in 21 minutes and have wanted more than they did wanted it?
If it was a so-called "distraction", as many of them seem to want to label it, you would not know how Kuzma attacked the rim in the third quarter to get LA back after the Pelicans threatened to hit the Lakers outside.
"We are talking about [the negative speculation] and it could be a reality [of being in L.A.]But we can not let this be our truth, "Walton said Wednesday. We must make this decision so that we do not let these things hinder the realization of what we want to accomplish. "
Kyle Kuzma disrespects his former teammate Julius Randle with vicious jam.
Everyone should be motivated to play in the playoffs, overcoming a gap of three games in 21 games, for their own reasons.
James can say, "I have nothing to do in this league that I have not already, all the rest for me, it's like icing on the cake," as he l & # 39; Had made it to Boston earlier this month, but starting from eight consecutive NBA games Apparitions in the finals to miss the playoffs would undoubtedly be a bad look for his legacy.
For Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, the playoffs would be another step in their professional development and the thrill of their young career. Plus, with all the league watching the Lakers season unfolding, this sequence will disproportionately determine how other teams will see their talents – for better or for worse.
For the general manager of Magic, Rob Pelinka, it would be another receipt that they could add to the pile that they give to Jeanie Buss when it comes to evaluating their performances: Since taking over, we have escaped bad contracts, landed LeBron and played in the playoffs. How do you like me now?
Despite his dubious prospects after the defeats against the Pelicans and Grizzlies, LeBron James took a more positive perspective Wednesday in Los Angeles. He said about the Lakers: "I love where we are today."
While the Lakers and Celtics continue to struggle, another team has had to face adversity and persevere.
Here's what teams still in the draw Anthony Davis can offer during the off season.
For Walton, this would be proof that he might be the good guy to continue playing the stage master of this circus.
And Davis could still end up in L.A. But he will have no direct impact on this thrust in the playoffs. Maybe the young guys look so good in the area that the Lakers decide that they'd better wait for Davis to get the free agent status in 2020 rather than revive trade negotiations with the Pelicans in the offseason.
Or maybe they are so beautiful that the pelicans change their minds to want them and they are finally exchanged for Davis in July. This is the case. Playing at a level below their ability to avoid such a scenario will only hurt their long-term revenue potential.
Or maybe Boston is trading for Davis and Kyrie Irving joins the Celtics and all Davis-to-L.A. talk dies for good.
There are many unknowns.
What is certain is a waste of time for anyone dealing with the Lakers to pay more attention to Davis over the next six weeks.
It's time to avoid the escalator, take the stairs and see where it will take them.