Celtics fans holding out hope that the team can pry either Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins from the New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA trade should not get their hopes up. At least not yet.
The minute that the NBA granted the Celtics an $8.4 million disabled player exception that they can use in a trade or in free agency before March 10 of 2018, C’s backers had visions of Cousins dancing in their heads.
Part of the player exception deal is that it can only be used on a player who is in the final year of his contract, which Cousins is. The Celtics could theoretically trade, say, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, one of their countless draft picks and use the $8.4 million exception to land Cousins.
The Pelicans could eventually be interested in this type of deal in early 2018 because they don’t want to see Cousins walk out the door for nothing next summer (there’s already plenty of buzz that Boogie wants to join his old college teammate, John Wall, in Washington). But the way things are shaping up right now, it looks like the Pelicans are going to push for a playoff spot in the West. Even getting the No. 8 seed and being swept by the Warriors would be seen as a win.
New Orleans is one of the few franchises in the NBA that would be happy just making the playoffs. The idea there is that if Davis is shown that the Pelicans are taking baby steps toward improvement, that he’ll decide to stay. Davis won’t hit unrestricted free agency until 2021, so the Pelicans do have some time to show Davis they’re serious about becoming a winner.
The Pelicans are just 3-4 on the NBA season so far, but looking at the headlines coming out of the Big Easy you’d think they’re on the cusp of overtaking Golden State.
Davis said this week that he “knows” the Pelicans are going to be a “special team,” and he and Cousins have been doing some legit bro bonding lately (it’s a fact that if you go to a haunted house with someone around Halloween time, things are getting serious). Cousins’ ridiculous 41 and 23 line against the Kings last week, coupled with a win over the Cavs two nights later at least has Pelicans players believing they can land in the rugged Western Conference playoff picture.
All that said, no one would be surprised if the Pelicans go off the rails in the next couple of months. If losses start to rack up, then both the rumors involving Davis and Cousins will pop up again. Also something to keep in mind is the murky ownership situation with the Pelicans. New Orleans owner Tom Benson settled a lawsuit with his heirs this past February, but no one is quite sure of the terms of the settlement. The 90-year-old Benson had a medical scare this week.
While many believe the Davis NBA trade rumors to be far-fetched, two credible NBA media members have openly discussed a Davis to the Celtics trade scenario. Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman was the first one to bring up Davis’ name way back in May (it was during this interview where Gorman was the first one to say that the Celtics were not in love with Markelle Fultz), and ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote about Davis to Boston in late August.
To make the money work, the Celtics would have to trade away Al Horford in any kind of trade involving Davis. Horford is finally coming into his own in Boston, but Celtics fans would surely be on board with an upgrade that drastic – not to mention Davis is seven years younger than Horford and fits in perfectly with the Celtics’ title timeline centered around 25-year-old Kyrie Irving.