Anthony Davis broke headlines Monday when his agent Rich Paul announced that Davis would not sign an extension in New Orleans and would like to be traded. The news spread wide and fast as all the major NBA news outlets were transfixed on what the next move will be for the Pelicans. Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst, Bill Simmons and all NBA media alike released emergency podcasts discussing some possibilities of what could occur before the trade deadline on February 7th. This sort of reaction is to be expected, as Davis is a generational talent that is not available on the market very often. With that said, I firmly believe the former Kentucky superstar will not be traded this season.
The Pelicans have been a franchise destined to succeed ever since securing the sure-fire number one pick in 2012 in Davis. He was clearly the best player in the draft at the time and has lived up to all expectations over the last seven years. However, the incompetence of the front office and unfortunate location of being in a football dominant city has left the Pelicans in a rut they can’t seem to get out of. The biggest reason being the inability to surround Davis with legitimate NBA talent outside of Jrue Holiday. I mean, think about it: The five best players on the Pelicans since 2010 have been Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, 65 games of Demarcus Cousins and, of course, Anthony Davis. Tyreke Evans is having a hard time finding 20+ minutes per game in Indiana and Ryan Anderson has found himself buried on the bench of an 11-41 Phoenix Sun’s team. So clearly, Davis has every right to be frustrated after seven years of mediocrity. So this leads to the question of where he’ll end up next.
Rumors have been swirling that Davis’ desired destination is to team up with Lebron in LA. While that’s all fine and dandy, the decision is ultimately up to the Pelicans front office of where he is traded to. When looking at possible packages that teams can put together, there are only three super realistic teams: the Celtics, Lakers, and Knicks. The Celtics are a no-brainer, as they’ve been vying for Davis to come to Boston since July of 2017 and they have the most to offer. The Celtics have a plethora of draft picks included the Grizzles, Kings, and Clippers 2019 first-rounders. On top of that, the Celtics have a slew of young players that proved their worth by taking the team to the Eastern Conference Finals last season with the likes of Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Aron Baynes. The problem with the Celtics, however, is that Kyrie Irving’s contract applies under the Rose Rule and a team can only have one player under this exception. Ironically enough, Davis’ contract is also under the Rose Rule, so Davis cannot be traded to the Celtics until Kyrie opts out and restructures his contract this summer OR Kyrie is included in the deal to acquire Davis.
Since Boston can not be involved in a trade before the deadline, that essentially leaves two landings spots in Los Angeles and New York. New York is appealing due to their young superstar in Kristaps Porzingis and likely a top three pick in the 2019 NBA draft. However, the new lottery rules leave a lot of uncertainty in that pick. The new lottery gives the top three teams the same 14% chance of getting the number one pick. So, the Knicks could end with the worst record and have an equal chance at each of the first three picks. If the Pelicans were actually interested in this package, it would make more sense to wait until the draft lottery this summer to see where that pick ends up.
The last logical team that could trade for Davis is the Lakers. The Lakers obviously have a nice young core of players they could put together in a package with draft picks, although their picks are likely going to fall outside of the lottery. It was reported the Pelicans would be interested in a package including Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and a first round pick for Davis, but there have been reports that the Lakers’ are adamantly opposed to trading Ball and Kuzma. Regardless of who the Lakers are willing to part with, they can not put together a package that would match the value of what the Celtics have to offer. Also, if Davis is traded for a package including a first round pick before the deadline, that essentially gives Davis half a season to win more games with his new team and tank the value of the first round pick.
Clearly, the Pelicans have a lot to figure out in the coming weeks and the fate of the franchise depends on it. While every NBA fan is eagerly awaiting the news of Davis’ departure from the Big Easy, it would not be smart for the Pelicans to rush into a decision. The fact of the matter shows they have the best chance of coming out of this trade positively moving forward if they wait until the summer and can get Boston involved. Even if Davis isn’t traded to Boston, getting the Celtics involved encourages other teams around the league to up the ante and try to match any offer that Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office could put together.