With two weeks remaining until the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline, Anthony Davis and his representation just dropped a bomb on the basketball world Monday morning.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Davis and his agent have notified the New Orleans Pelicans that he will not be signing a five-year, $240 million supermax extension with the team while putting in a request for a trade.
Davis’ departure from the Pelicans has been expected, especially over the past year as trade rumors continued to swirl around the 25-year-old center. Now, New Orleans management is faced with the possibility of having to scramble to ship Davis out of town with a limited window of opportunity, at least for this year.
The one positive for the Pelicans is that Davis’ value on the trade market won’t go down regardless of if they can trade him before Feb. 7. He can become a free agent in the summer of 2020, so it’s not like they will lose him without getting anything in return if he’s still in New Orleans on Feb. 8.
And they’ll stand to get a king’s ransom for a player that is not even in the prime of his career yet and is averaging 29.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game this season. Davis has plenty of cards to hold as well seeing as he can notify interested parties whether or not he will sign a long-term extension with them. If he wants no part of a team looking to trade for him, all he’ll have to do is tell them he’ll walk in free agency come 2020 and that will likely deter any sort of blockbuster deal.
Nevertheless, a player of such talent obviously is going to pique the interest of almost every team in the NBA, but the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have long been linked to Davis when the prospect of a trade first emerged.
Davis’ decision to request a trade now though is clearly an advantage for the Lakers, who now have a two-week head start in front of the Celtics to negotiate.
Despite being able to offer what is believed to be the best possible return to the Pelicans for Davis, the Celtics cannot trade for the star until Jul. 1 unless Kyrie Irving is a part of the deal.
Both Irving and Davis signed contract extensions under the “Rose Rule,” which allows players coming off a rookie-scale contract to earn 30-percent of the salary cap instead of 25-percent. NBA rules state that a single team cannot trade for more than one player who signed a contract under such circumstances. Therefore, they’ll have to wait until Irving either becomes a free agent or signs a contract extension in order to get both stars on the roster.
That leaves the Lakers with a clear path to try and pull off a franchise-altering trade as soon as possible. Pairing Davis with LeBron James, who share an agent in Rich Paul, would only strengthen Los Angeles’ chances as legitimate contenders in the Western Conference and the Lakers would have no problem securing Davis for the long haul. James is the only Laker who is making more than $10 million through the 2018-19 season.
They also have plenty of young assets to offer New Orleans, whether it be Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Kyle Kuzma.
But Wojnarowski added on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ Monday morning that both New York teams in the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could also get in on the Davis sweepstakes. Both teams have max salary slots next year and could immediately shore up their frontcourts with a bona fide star for the next decade as they look to build up to Eastern Conference powers in the near future.
The Knicks are expected to be aggressive in a pursuit of Davis, per Wojnarowski on an appearance with Golic and Wingo on ESPN Radio. However, their best chance to get him would be by giving up what could become the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft, which could become Duke star, Zion Williamson.