In reality, there are only two destinations that make sense for New Orleans star Anthony Davis. The 6-foot-10 Pelicans leading scorer and an impending trade have been the talk of the league since the start of the season. With the NBA trade deadline coming soon (Feb. 7), if New Orleans is serious about a trade, there are only two teams the Pelicans need to approach – Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers.
No Deal A number of teams across the league would be interested in a talent like Davis who is averaging 28.5 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. San Antonio, which lost Kawhi Leonard to Toronto, certainly has the pedigree (21 straight playoff appearances), but the Spurs simply do not have enough to offer. Miami could put together an array of assets – Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, and-or Josh Richardson plus draft picks – but why would Davis go to Miami when he can lose and make more money in New Orleans?
Philadelphia has the assets as well but traded for Jimmy Butler already and Golden State has been mentioned as a target but the Warriors aren’t giving up Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. Draymond Green isn’t enough to make a deal and Klay Thompson likely would not be interested in heading to the Bayou.
The Case for the Lakers The signing of LeBron James last offseason kicked off a new era in Lakers’ basketball. Los Angeles has immediately become a playoff contender – they are 21-16 and sixth in the Western Conference. James and the Lakers still need another piece of the puzzle though to put them over the top and contend for NBA titles. That is where Davis would fit in.
In six seasons in New Orleans, Davis, and the Pelicans have made the postseason twice. At the moment, they are 17-21 and, if not for Phoenix, would have the worst record in the West. Would Davis like a legitimate shot at an NBA title? Absolutely, who wouldn’t? James and the Lakers can provide that. What they cannot provide though is the five-year, $240 million supermax deal that only New Orleans can offer. For Davis, the choice is clear. Money or a chance to win an NBA title?
The Case for the Celtics The biggest competition the Lakers will face for Davis is from Boston. Like the Lakers, the Celtics have a long history of winning. Head coach Brad Stevens has a built a solid culture of winning and Boston’s roster is outstanding – Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and more. The Celtics also have assets, tons of them. Boston could have as many as four first-round draft picks in 2019.
The problem the Celtics do have is a little-known clause in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. Boston cannot trade for Davis as long as Irving is still playing under a designated player extension (the technical term for a supermax contract). That means the Celtics cannot negotiate with Davis until July 1.
What About New Orleans? Davis could stay with the Pelicans. Remember, they are the only team that can offer him a supermax contract. The problem with Davis staying is what the organization has built – or attempted to build – around him. They traded two lottery picks to pick up Jrue Holiday, which was a good move. Others like Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, and Solomon Hill not so much. Even their acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins went awry when the big man ended up tearing his Achilles tendon.
If the Pelicans can somehow put another piece of the puzzle in place, it would be worth it to fight like crazy to keep Davis around. It would definitely be worth it for Davis, to the tune of $240 million.
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