James says he plays "by the rules."
As the Anthony Davis rumors heat up before February's trade deadline, NBA front offices are reportedly upset at perceived tampering from LeBron James and the Lakers after James commented that it would be "incredible" to play with Davis.
James addressed the accusations on Friday after the Lakers defeated the Pelicans, 112–104.
“They can’t control me at all," James told reporters. "And I play by the rules.”
James and Davis then reportedly met up for a postgame dinner in Los Angeles, per Yahoo Sports. The Pelicans stayed in Southern California overnight before traveling to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Sunday, Dec. 23.
Davis is under contract with the Pelicans for $27.1 million next season and has a player option for 2020-2021 worth $28.8 million. If Davis stays with New Orleans this season, the five-time All-Star will be eligible for a super max extension this summer worth $239 million over five years.
After posting game highs of 30 points, 20 rebounds and five assists in Friday night's loss to the Lakers, Davis told reporters after the game that lucrative incentives are not as important to him as legacy–he wants to win an NBA title.
“I’d take legacy over money,” Davis told Yahoo Sports after the game. “I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time.”
Despite a warm welcome at the Staples Center on Friday, Davis said his focus is still on New Orleans.
“It’s cool to have fans everywhere you go," Davis said. "But my job is about the Pelicans right now.”
The 25-year-old forward is currently averaging 28.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Pelicans. After Friday's Staples Center loss, New Orleans sits at 15–18 on the season.
While James has made his thoughts about a potential trade for Davis clear, the 14-time All-Star shouldn't get his hopes up. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said in October that the team was unlikely to budge on a trade involving their star player.