It has only been three days since ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Anthony Davis was requesting a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. These three days have felt like an eternity bouncing from one rumor to the next trying to shift through the truth of what actually matters.
The bottom line is that no matter what, the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Pelicans franchise. It is not Anthony Davis, it is not Rich Paul, and it is definitely not the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis can demand a trade and say he won’t re-sign with any other team but LA, and that request could be duly noted, but it does not force their hand into a deal as soon as possible.
The biggest question of it all becomes whether Davis will be traded before the February 7th trade deadline or will it be dragged on into the summer. The Pelicans know they hold the power and that if they wait until more teams have a better understanding of their bargaining position, patience only benefits the Pels. Here is what each of the rumored teams could offer in a potential trade for Anthony Davis.
One of the reasons why this story has been covered with such urgency over these past few days is because Boston, who originally were the front runners in the AD sweepstakes, can not make a move for him until after July 1st. Because of the hallowed Rose Rule everyone has talked so much about, Boston is not able to bring on Anthony Davis in a trade until after Kyrie is off the books with his current deal. This means that the Celtics must sit back and just pray Davis does not get traded before the deadline.
Now, for the Pelicans, it may be worth their while to wait because of what Boston can offer on the other side of July 1st. Their collection of young players and assets would be a great starting point in any negotiation with New Orleans.
This package would have to start with Jayson Tatum being the young centerpiece the Pelicans could build around. From there, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart seem like logical pieces to match salaries with Davis’s sizable contract. Do the Pelicans trust one of those three could be an All-Star? That is the fundamental question in any deal they consider.
In addition, the Celtics could offer some of their first round draft picks that they have been stockpiling for the past five years. The most valuable pick is the Memphis 1st round pick which is top-8 protected this year, top-6 protected next year, and unprotected for 2021. That pick is very precious because of the direction the Grizzlies look to be headed. The Celtics also have the Sacramento 1st round pick this summer (top pick protected), the Los Angeles Clippers 1st round pick top-14 protected, and their own picks going forward. That is an insane haul that a rebuilding team who just lost their superstar would love to get a hold of.
Los Angeles Lakers
Basically, the Lakers have their offer centered around their younger players similar to an offer from the Celtics would look like. The conversation would presumably start with a combination of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Most likely, the Pelicans would want more than that, so Kyle Kuzma would be added into the mix, as well as their own future first round draft picks.
The problem for the Pelicans that arises from this package is who from those three names will be an All-Star in the next three years? Who could you call the piece to build around going forward with your team? Also, and almost most importantly, these three players and Julius Randle already tried to succeed last year in Los Angeles, and it did not work out too well. It is just a tough sell when these three players are the best pieces you can offer without tacking on future lottery draft picks as well.
The third team who has been thrown in with the rumors is the New York Knicks. They have a special situation in these negotiations since they are coming in from a different position. Instead of looking for that next piece with the players they already have, the Knicks want to trade for Davis and bring in other targets this off-season.
The Knicks best asset is their first round pick this year. Similar to the Celtics, they also have to wait since they do not yet know how strong their hand is. After the draft lottery finishes up, they will know what pick they have. If it is the number one overall pick, it could be a very convincing offer to the Pelicans if they liked Zion Williamson to build around. This is definitely a long-shot, but it is nonetheless worth mentioning.
Finally, there is one last scenario which has not been talked about enough to discuss. What if a contending team came out of nowhere and gave the Pelicans a Godfather offer? Some of the teams thrown around could be the Raptors, Bucks, or Nuggets who are going in all the way to win this year. Anthony Davis is an incredible talent that will make your team infinitely better, so why wouldn’t teams at least consider it?
It would be another offer around young players and picks, but if it was a Nets-Celtics type deal, the Pelicans may be inclined to take it. You never really know what some GMs around the league are willing to sacrifice to win that championship.
All in all, the Pelicans seem to hold all of the cards. Even as some people have said they are not even taking phone calls, it would be foolish not to. They are going to have plenty of buyers, but it is all about getting the best return possible. The Pelicans can get better offers not just from Boston, but other teams who need to wait for the draft lottery to see what their bargaining position is. Their front office will hopefully understand that is why they need to wait on trading their superstar Anthony Davis.
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