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Report: Pelicans refuse to trade Anthony Davis to Lakers before deadline, Celtics willing to take a chance this summer

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How the NBA turns...

New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

When ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Zach Lowe, and Adrian Wojnarowski share a byline before the trade deadline, you know it’s going to be a nuclear bomb. Here’s the key piece:

The stance of Davis and his camp toward Boston is linked to their view of Kyrie Irving’s future, sources said. Davis and his camp no longer believe that Irving is a sure bet to re-sign with the Celtics this summer, and that’s the primary reason they insist on clumping Boston with a similar message to the 28 other teams: Buyer beware on a trade for Davis.

Per the report, Pelicans GM Dell Demps has been steadfast in his stance that he will not trade Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis’ and his rep’s power play of making his trade request public rubbed New Orleans the wrong way and they’re planning to take a long view and see what interest they can drum up in the summer.

That’s where the Celtics come in. There’s a lot to unpack here, but there seems to be an order of operations that need to take place if there’s a chance for Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis to both be in Boston next season. There’s the first hurdle of the February 7th trade deadline, but after that, here’s the rumored mindset of all parties:

Boston remains confident in Irving re-signing, even if they don’t acquire Davis before free agency. But whatever happens between now and then, whatever issues might threaten to topple Irving’s preseason commitment to an extension, the Celtics believe the acquisition of Davis will soothe them all. Boston believes this: Getting Davis probably clinches an Irving commitment.

Davis and his camp are telling teams that if they trade for AD, it’s a one-year rental and he has every intention on joining the Lakers in free agency in 2020. That’s posturing from Rich Paul and Klutch, but even if that’s true, a re-signed Irving and a year in Boston could change all that. It’s been reported that Irving and Davis are good friends and Danny Ainge and the front office are confident that they can convince AD to commit long term to the Celtics.

Now, there’s also the matter of what a trade package for the generational big man would be. Earlier today on his radio hit with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, Ainge reiterated his stance that he’d take a risk on trading for a player with one year left on his deal and talked about how he’s had the “basketball is a business” conversation with two of his prized assets, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It’s been reported that he’s ready to deal everything--all the young players, all the picks, and even Gordon Hayward--but the kitchen sink and that kitchen sink is Jayson Tatum:

Above all else, Boston wants to keep Tatum. Going forward with a Big Three of Irving-Davis-Tatum -- and filling in the gaps around them as needed -- is probably their ideal scenario. If Boston feels it is necessary to hold off any Lakers coup, they can tell the Pelicans they will likely include Tatum in Davis trade talks in July.

That’s risky, though. If Boston promises that in absolute terms, the Pelicans would expect the Celtics to hold to that assurance. Welching would damage Boston’s league-wide credibility in a way that could take years to repair.

In conclusion, Davis’ trade request was the first domino. The second will be him remaining in New Orleans through the deadline. Third, the Celtics need to convince Irving to re-sign. Fourth, Ainge must cobble together enough of a package to trade for AD. Banner #18 is #5, but we’re a long ways away from that.