The Boston Celtics took a giant step forward on Tuesday in their quest to become an NBA super team, but they are still one big trade away (Anthony Davis?) from truly being able to go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors.
The Davis to the Celtics rumors have been whispered about for a few months now with C’s TV play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman casually dropping Davis’ name during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich around the time of the NBA Draft Lottery. Gorman is tied in to the Celtics’ brass, and was the first one to mention that the Celtics weren’t head-over-heels in love with Markelle Fultz as the No. 1 overall pick. He clearly got some good intel there.
The Vertical’s Chris Mannix also directly mentioned Davis’ name a couple weeks back when it came to a potential Celtics blockbuster trade.
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“Is a blockbuster, player-heavy deal in the offing [for the Celtics]? As of now, league sources told The Vertical that isn’t the case,” Mannix wrote. “Boston – everyone, really – would love to get its hands on Anthony Davis. But Davis is tied to a manageable contract through 2021, and the Pelicans appear committed to giving the Davis-DeMarcus Cousins pairing a full season together.”
The Celtics having landed Gordon Hayward on Tuesday actually buys Danny Ainge some time in terms of pulling off a blockbuster trade. The pressure for him to pull off a big move had been mounting in Boston, and for the first time in a decade there were “Danny Ainge on the hot seat?” stories being written and sports radio calls being taken. But the acquisition of Hayward is appetizing enough. The Celtics should be able to take another step in their growth in 2017-18 (they went from being swept in the playoffs in 2015, to going six games with the Hawks in 2016, to going to the Eastern Conference Finals this past season) with Hayward alone.
This “baby step” approach is a good thing for Ainge if his ultimate goal truly is to get Davis in Celtics green. He would have had to part with key assets like the 2018 Brooklyn pick and the Lakers/Kings lottery pick had a Paul George trade transpired. Instead, Ainge can wait for things to play out in New Orleans, to see if Pelicans GM Dell Demps gives up on the Davis/DeMarcus Cousins marriage (the early returns aren’t great as they went 7-10 down the stretch last season).
The best option for the Pelicans either before the February 2018 NBA trade deadline or next summer may be to go all 76ers on the league. The haul they could get for Davis and Cousins in terms of draft picks would be astronomical.
At some point Demps will have to be a realist and see that even advancing to the second round in the absurd Western Conference is the tallest of orders. The best route for the small market Pelicans is likely one that waits out this super team era.