On Tuesday's episode of First Take on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith reported Popovich told Pelicans general manager Dell Demps "don't cave" to the Lakers in trade talks for Davis.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Davis' agent, Rich Paul, told the Pelicans his client won't sign an extension with the team and has requested a trade.
Wojnarowski added the Lakers "plan to make an aggressive push" for Davis before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7, but barring an "overwhelming package," New Orleans won't make a deal during the season.
Popovich's angle seems to be the one the San Antonio Spurs followed with Kawhi Leonard. Despite Leonard being heavily linked to the Lakers throughout the summer, Marc Stein of the New York Times told ESPN Los Angeles the Spurs "clearly do not want to do business" with the Lakers.
Leonard was eventually traded to the Toronto Raptors, leaving the Lakers in the cold as they continue to search for a second superstar to pair with LeBron James.
The Spurs and Lakers were longtime playoff rivals when both teams were dominating the Western Conference in the early 2000s. The two franchises combined to win 10 NBA titles in a 17-season span from 1998-2014.
Despite Popovich's potential motivations for not wanting the Lakers to add another superstar, the Pelicans have to find the best deal possible if they decide to trade Davis. If it's presented by Los Angeles, Demps shouldn't hesitate to accept it.