Well, it’s finally happened. After all sorts of banter regarding the future of Anthony Davis, the superstar has reportedly told the New Orleans Pelicans that he would like to be traded away.
Per ESPN, Davis will reportedly refuse to sign any contract extension from the Pelicans, instead preferring to play his craft elsewhere. But where will he play next?
Davis is under contract with the Pelicans through the 2019-20 season, though, so New Orleans does have time to wait if they so choose.
Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Monday:
“Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him a chance to win consistently and compete for a championship. Anthony wanted to be honest and clear with his intentions and that’s the reason for informing them of this decision now. That’s in the best interests of both Anthony’s and the organization’s future.”
Davis will be eligible to sign a 5-year extension worth $240 million with the Pelicans this summer, but all indications are that he instead plans to play out the rest of his current deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020. The Pelicans have previously refused the notion that they would entertain a Davis trade, but that may change now that he has gone public with his request.
The list of suitors for Davis will surely form to the left. This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of superstar that won’t turn 26 until March. Davis has spent his entire career to this point in New Orleans, but the team has struggled to build a consistent winner around him.
The franchise has made just 2 playoff appearances in Davis’ first 6 seasons, and they are currently on the outside looking in on the Western Conference playoff picture this year. The Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers in the first round of last year’s playoff before being ousted by the eventual champion Warriors in the conference semifinals.
So, where will Davis land? BetOnline.ag has fresh odds posted regarding where Davis will play in the 2019-20 season. If the Pelicans decline to trade Davis this season, it is almost a certainty that they will look to move him sometime this summer.
BetOnline has a number of potential Davis destinations listed. The usual suspects are the heavy favorites, but there are also 5 teams with odds at +1000 or above.
- Houston Rockets +1200
- Toronto Raptors +1400
- Oklahoma City Thunder +1400
- San Antonio Spurs +1600
- Golden State Warriors +1600
Davis landing with the Warriors is obviously nightmare fuel for the rest of the NBA. Is it a pipedream? Maybe not. We know Golden State isn’t afraid to be aggressive, as evidenced by their successful signings of superstars Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins. The Warriors managed to win a title before Durant and Cousins showed up, but why balk at the chance to add as much talent as possible?
The Warriors are also facing some uncertainty in the near future. Golden State is a heavy favorite to win a third title in a row this season, but Durant, Cousins and Klay Thompson can all become free agents in July. Thompson has not indicated any desire to leave, but there have been rumors regarding Durant’s potential departure all year long.
One would imagine Cousins will also leave for a bigger payday now that he’s a year removed from his Achilles tear.
The Warriors could always wait for Davis to become a free agent in the summer of 2020, but whichever team trades for him will have a huge leg up on the rest of the competition. If they really want Davis, they should be trying to trade for him in order to get out ahead of everybody else.
That said, it’s hard to imagine the Warriors being willing to potentially punt on winning a title this season. So, it’s borderline unfathomable to think they would consider trading Durant to get Davis in return.
If Durant opts out, the Warriors likely don’t have what it would take to get Davis in a trade this summer. Steph Curry and Draymond Green are still under contract, but the Warriors aren’t trading Steph under any circumstance, and it would take a lot more than Green to get Davis away from New Orleans. As a result, I just can’t imagine a scenario that results in Davis playing for the Warriors next season. So, pass on the champs at +1600.
San Antonio was in the same boat as the Pelicans just a few months ago. The Spurs wound up trading the disgruntled Kawhi Leonard to Toronto in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. DeRozan is a nice player, but the Spurs wound up having to sell off Leonard at a discount because they had no leverage. The Pelicans are now facing a very similar circumstance.
The problem is that the Spurs just don’t have enough ammo to get Davis. DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are both around 30. Young guys like Derrick White or Dejounte Murray may have some appeal, but it would take a whole lot more than that to get Davis. There just isn’t a path forward here, so I’ll ignore the Spurs at +1600, too.
The Thunder make for a more compelling case. It seems highly unlikely that they would part ways with Russell Westbrook or Paul George. Could a package around Steven Adams tempt the Pelicans? It’s possible, but Adams alone wouldn’t be enough.
As much as I like Jerami Grant, the group of compelling trade chips thins considerably once you get past OKC’s top 3 players. I would seriously consider trading Westbrook if I were OKC, but that could be a potential PR disaster for them given what Westbrook has done for the franchise through the years.
The Raptors at +1400 and Rockets at +1200 are interesting. Both teams have aggressive front offices. We saw the Raps capitalize on the aforementioned Kawhi Leonard situation just last summer, while the Rockets have tried like crazy to surround James Harden with as much talent as possible.
You can bet all the money in the world that Houston GM Daryl Morey will call the Pelicans in order to sniff around, but the Rockets lack the necessary young players and draft considerations that the Pelicans will surely be seeking.
I think Toronto has the best shot among the teams with long odds. They managed to pluck Kawhi out of San Antonio without really giving up much of the young core.
The Raptors still have pieces like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright and others that could be of interest to the Pelicans. Considering New Orleans lacks a ton of leverage, there’s a decent chance the Raptors can piece together a competitive offer.
Last summer taught us not to sleep on Masai Ujiri and the Raps.
They only have one year to convince Leonard to stick around in the long term. Pulling off another massive move for another superstar would make quite the case.
- Los Angeles Lakers +125
- Boston Celtics +300
- New York Knicks +550
- Philadelphia 76ers +700
- New Orleans Pelicans +900
We have to at least consider the possibility that the Pelicans keep Anthony Davis beyond next summer. If no trade materializes, perhaps they can talk themselves into keeping him through the summer with an eye on talking him into taking a long-term extension.
That all sounds pretty unlikely at this point, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the realm of possibility. Davis starting the 2019-20 season in New Orleans at +900 is at least a little interesting.
BetOnline seems to think the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, and 76ers have the best shot at landing A.D. Of course, the Lakers and the Celtics have been the teams linked with him most frequently in the past. Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, is also the agent and good friend of the Lakers’ LeBron James. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read the tea leaves and find the link there.
The Lakers tried and failed to get Kawhi Leonard after trying and failing to get Paul George. Magic Johnson will undoubtedly try a third time to lure another superstar to Los Angeles now that Davis is reportedly on the market.
We know the Lakers aren’t trading LeBron, but there’s no reason to think any of the team’s other pieces wouldn’t be on the table. That means Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac.
Is there a future superstar among that group of 5? At this point, it’s hard to say there is. I think Ball is the player with the most upside, Kuzma is probably the best of them right now, and Ingram will always be compelling to teams due to his size.
Zubac and Hart are long shot prospects that look more like role players than anything else. Does some combination of those 5 trump any other offer the Pelicans may get? Absolutely not, but at the end of the day there is a chance that no other team can offer anything better.
The Lakers are always going to make for a solid bet here. I don’t love what they can offer, but it just seems like the Lakers always find a way to wind up on the right side of things like this. I like their chances better of luring him as a free agent in the summer of 2020, but there’s still a decent chance he winds up in L.A. before then.
Unless the Celtics are willing to trade Kyrie Leonard to New Orleans, they are going to have to wait until this summer until they can legally make a trade for Anthony Davis. Obviously, that opens the door for other teams, like the Lakers.
By rule, no team is allowed to have 2 players under contract via the designated rookie extension together. Because both Davis and Irving are currently on such deals, the Celtics will have to either trade Irving or wait until his current deal expires this summer before making a move.
Many believe the Pelicans will wait to trade Davis in the summer because the Celtics are the team with the most to offer in a prospective trade. I doubt they would seriously consider trading Kyrie, but Boston also has an interesting collection of young players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart.
Rozier is a guy many believe should be a starting point guard in this league, but he’s blocked in Boston behind Irving. The team has reportedly been trying to find a new home for him, and New Orleans would make plenty of sense.
The real prize here for the Pelicans would be Tatum. At this time last year, Tatum looked like one of the best young assets in the league. So far this season, though, he hasn’t shown much improvement.
He’s still only 20, but Tatum’s shooting has fallen off from where it was as a rookie, and his shot selection has been questionable at times. Tatum is still one of the game’s best young prospects, but it’s fair to wonder if at least a little of the shine has worn off. Ditto for Brown.
Still, if the Celtics offered Tatum the Pelicans would have a hard time finding a better piece via trade. With only one full year of Davis left on his current contract, they may have to settle for a little bit less than full value. If they can get Tatum, Rozier and whatever other filler the Celtics can throw in, that’s probably the best they can do.
The odds are only going to get less favorable the closer we get to the summer, and I think there is at least a 50 percent chance we see Davis suiting up in Boston starting next fall.
Sixers or Knicks?
The Knicks are a team that has been linked with every single big-name free agent for what feels like forever, yet at the end of the day they’re one of the teams that always seems to be left holding the bag. The best free agent the Knicks have signed in the last 20 years is probably Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire was a fine player, but their track record isn’t great on this front.
One thing the Knicks do have now, though, is a prized young star in Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis may not play this season after tearing his ACL late last year, but he showed during his first couple of seasons that he’s one of the game’s brightest young stars. Because this isn’t 1980 anymore, there’s no reason to think Porzingis won’t be able to fully recover from his knee injury.
Would the Knicks be crazy to offer Porzingis for Davis? I don’t think so. They’re comparable, but Davis just seems to be a better version of Porzingis while only being a couple of years older.
I am not convinced that New York would seriously dangle him in a trade, but if they did, I think the Knicks would be right there at the front of the line. I think most would tell you that Porzingis is a better prospect than Tatum at this point.
New York may have trouble convincing Davis to stick around in the long term, but the bright lights of the big city wouldn’t hurt their chances.
The 76ers are my least favorite of this group. Philly already swung for the fences earlier this year when they plucked Jimmy Butler out of Minnesota. Butler hasn’t exactly endeared himself to his new team since joining the fold, but it’s hard to fathom the 76ers pulling the plug and making another trade for another star so quickly.
However, if the Pelicans wait until the summer to deal Davis, Philadelphia could make for an interesting destination. Would the Sixers consider trading Ben Simmons for A.D.? Would a twin towers look with Davis next to Joel Embiid make sense in this day and age?
If the Sixers are not convinced that the Embiid/Simmons tandem is capable of winning a title together, they would be remiss to not at least consider trading one of them. At this point, Simmons would seem to be the more likely trade chip.
The odds are long at +700. There’s plenty of profit potential there, but Embiid already being a Sixer makes the potential fit a little too complicated.
I’m willing to bet that the Pelicans will cut their losses and trade Davis prior to the beginning of next season. We saw with the Butler situation in Minnesota earlier this year how awkward it can be to wait too long to trade a star that wants out.
Things could always change between now and next October, but the writing seems to be on the wall. Anthony Davis will be wearing a new uniform next fall at the very latest.
The Lakers are the favorites, but I don’t think the rest of the league will just sit idly by and let Davis walk to L.A. Davis is probably the best player to become available in a trade in years, so the Lakers aren’t going to be able to get him easily.
There is going to be a ton of competition here, so the Pels would be smart to sit back and wait for all of the offers to come in before making a decision.
The Celtics, Knicks, and Raptors are the teams that look like the biggest threats to Los Angeles, as it stands now. I don’t think we can fully count out the Clippers, either, but BetOnline didn’t even list the other L.A. team as a betting option. So, we have to make do with what we have.
The Celtics are the next-most logical bet at +300, but I might be more willing to shoot for the moon with New York (+550) or Toronto (+1400). The Raptors should not be ignored here, yet I think they are being undervalued severely by oddsmakers.
My favorite potential trade destinations for Anthony Davis are as follows:
- Los Angeles Lakers +125
- Toronto Raptors +1400
- Boston Celtics +300
- New York Knicks +550