Could the Celtics be seeking a trade for Anthony Davis? Anything is possible in today’s NBA.
There’s a meme floating around the Internet of the body of the Lord of the Rings character Gollum, sporting the head of Celtics boss Danny Ainge. Gollum/Ainge is holding on to all of his draft picks/assets in the clip and is screaming “My Precious!!!!”
At this stage of things, the meme is fair. Ainge currently has more future NBA draft picks and young players than he knows what to do with, and Celtics fans – promised off-season “fireworks” for years now – are growing impatient.
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If Ainge simply drafts Kansas swingman Josh Jackson in the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday and the Celtics wind up whiffing in free agency and the trade market this summer – expect Ainge to become the biggest Boston sports punching bag since Bobby Valentine this coming fall and winter.
Of course, it will take several seasons to figure out who the best player in this draft is, but know this: the Celtics just passed on a sure-thing by essentially trading away Markelle Fultz.
Nonetheless, the timing of the Celtics’ upcoming actions will be fascinating. A trade for Bulls guard Jimmy Butler and/or Pacers swingman Paul George would likely transpire on draft night or right before NBA free agency begins on July 1. Celtics fans would be happy seeing either of those players in green despite the fact that neither of those players alone puts Boston in Cleveland – Golden State territory.
But if Ainge – the definition of a go-big or go-home GM – has his sights set on the biggest young fish in the pond – the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis – then he will most likely have to wait until the February 2018 trade deadline or even worse, the summer of 2018. The impatient Celtics crowd would surely not be happy with that, even if it might be the smartest play for the franchise to make long term.
The Davis rumor gained a little steam in May when Celtics TV announcer Mike Gorman casually tossed out Davis’ name in a conversation about whether or not the Celtics should trade the No. 1 pick.
“[Markelle] Fultz is not a once-in-a-lifetime player but certainly one of the better players to come out of college in some time, but he’s [18-years-old],” Gorman told 98.5’s Toucher and Rich. “Isaiah [Thomas] and Al Horford have a window of about probably 3-4 years here to win a championship. Do you take [Fultz], knowing that probably in 4-5 years he’s going to be at the peak of his game, but the other guys are going to be past the peak of their game? Or do you use him as a chip to win right now?
“That seems to me to be the decision that the Celtics are facing. Do they try to win right now and trade [the No. 1 pick] for Anthony Davis or something like that? Or do they go for the future?”
Gotta think Gorman has a little bit of intel when it comes to the Celtics front office, as he’s one of the few guys I saw in the Boston media prior to the trade to basically say “Fultz really ain’t all that.”
The biggest problem with the Davis speculation though is, “why in the world would the Pelicans do this?” They traded for DeMarcus Cousins earlier this year, and they do not yet have a good sample size of whether or not a Cousins – Davis big man tag team can work. Davis is also still just 24-years-old and the Pelicans have him under contract through 2021.
New Orleans GM Dell Demps is not a complete dummy, and he knows full well that stars are hard to come by in the NBA. When does giving up a young, absolute stud for a treasure trove of draft picks ever work out?
Still, the rumors will persist.
Just prior to the Pelicans making the move for Cousins, there was some buzz that New Orleans was actually entertaining the idea of moving Davis.
“New Orleans’ top asset is not likely a lottery pick, but Anthony Davis,” The Vertical’s Bobby Marks wrote in February. “Putting feelers out for Davis could transform a Pelicans franchise stuck in neutral based on Davis’ on-court value and his manageable long term contract. While the new CBA values player retention, the Pelicans’ roster now and into the future will feature a common trait: mediocrity.”
Despite being so mediocre for so long, the Pelicans really haven’t had too many lottery cracks. They drafted Buddy Hield sixth overall last year (and traded him in the Cousins deal) and did not have a first round pick in 2015 (they traded it to Houston to land Omer Asik). In 2013, they gave up Nerlens Noel and their 2014 first round pick for Jrue Holiday.
In 2012, they drafted Davis No. 1 overall and Austin Rivers No. 10 overall. They gave up their 2017 first round pick to the Kings in the Cousins deal.
So over the past five years, the Pelicans have done tremendously little to surround Davis with young talent to grow with. Perhaps New Orleans will want to change course and get into what is considered a tremendously deep 2017 draft. That’s why a small scale Celtics – Pelicans trade on draft night is a possibility.
As far as a blockbuster for Davis? Not right now.