It’s looking more and more like 2019 will be the year that Pelicans star Anthony Davis changes locations. The Pelicans now have the second worst record in a stacked Western Conference and it will be near impossible for them to leap-frog six other teams in the standings to grab that last playoff spot for the right to get swept by the Warriors in the first round. There are only four teams that project to make sense regarding a Davis trade with those teams being the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors.
The Celtics have more tradeable assets than any other team in the league and you can bet your bottom dollar that Boston boss Danny Ainge will push hard for a trade in July after the Celtics re-structure the contract of Kyrie Irving. Boston can’t trade for Davis right now because of language in the current CBA unless they were to include Irving in a deal. Once Boston blows up Irving’s current deal this summer, they can make another trade for a player of Davis’ caliber.
The Lakers are the only team that makes sense to do a trade for Davis between now and the NBA trade deadline in February but it’s unclear if New Orleans GM Dell Demps covets any of the Lakers’ young players enough to unload arguably the best player in the league. There is a strong sense that Demps will only trade Davis when he has multiple suitors in order to drive up the asking price. Because Boston can’t make a real deal for Davis right now, it’s much more likely that Demps waits until the summer so that he can play both franchises against one another.
The wild card in all of this is Golden State, which could have a drastically different looking roster by the time July rolls around. Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob has not been shy about expressing his interest in Davis – much like he once salivated over the services of Kevin Durant. This time around, the Warriors would have to give up talent in return – but Golden State still very much operates with a “go big or go home” mentality. Expect them to push hard for a Davis trade this summer if and when Durant bolts.
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and Kevin O’Connor discussed the latest on how a Davis trade would work this past week as they focused on the Celtics, Lakers and even the Sixers.
Simmons: I always think you should move proactively with this stuff and I keep looking at this Anthony Davis situation. They are not going to make the playoffs. If he had one five-game injury or something and all of a sudden they’re like 17-27, it could go south in a hurry. I think the Pelicans are going to end up with a top 10 pick this year.
The thing is, there’s a shelf-life on a Davis trade. The Lakers have a six month chance to trade for him before the Celtics are able to re-do Kyrie’s deal.
I’m in the position with New Orleans that you do not trade Anthony Davis because at that point you should just move the team. If you don’t have Anthony Davis just move to Seattle.
My point is, why not be proactive. Why not get a blue-chipper back? Does Anthony Davis for Ben Simmons make sense?
O’Connor: With Ben Simmons, there’s very few players in the league that you trade him for. He’s 22 and he’s posting numbers that are Magic Johnson-esque. There’s not a lot of guys that have done what Ben Simmons has done at his age numbers-wise.
For New Orleans it’s an intriguing basketball fit if you build around Ben Simmons.
But here’s why you have to wait if you’re New Orleans. You have to wait for Boston this summer. You have to wait for the Lakers to be willing to give more. You have to wait for whoever gets the number one pick, whether that’s the Knicks or Phoenix or somebody else. You need to wait and see how all that shakes out.