The AD Conundrum

What’s next for the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, and more importantly, Anthony Davis?

Let’s face it – this was bound to happen.

On one side, you have one of the most talented players in the NBA that has yet to reach his peak (did you know that Davis is only 25 years old?). On the other side, you have one of the most popular sports team who almost always get the big stars (see Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, Kwame Brown).

Add in the fact that A) said talented player is tired of losing in a small market, B) said popular sports team is also tired of losing but is a big market, and C) said talented player’s agent is best friends with another talented player that is currently playing for the said popular sport team.

Ever since Woj reported that Davis has requested a trade from the Pelicans, everyone already had their fingers pointed at the Lakers. And why not? Davis knows he can’t win in New Orleans. His agent – Rich Paul – is good friends with LeBron. And LeBron knows he can’t win in LA with this roster.

But there are other teams sneaking behind their treasure chest of draft picks and players, just to see what they could do and pry AD away from both the Pelicans and the Lakers.

For one, there’s the New York Knicks.

Big market? Check.
Contender? No.

But they are pretty much admitting that this year is “the year before THE YEAR” for them. They still have Kristaps Porzingis returning. They have enough cap space for someone who might be interested to rebuild his legacy (*cough* KEVIN DURANT *cough*). And at 10-39, they have the best chance in the next NBA draft to select either Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, or RJ Barrett.

Would the Pelicans reject a deal around Kevin Knox and their 2019 1st round pick for Davis and jumpstart their rebuild with Zion-Randle-Knox as their core? Would the Knicks say no to a deal that could potentially give them a Davis-Kristaps-KD frontcourt for next year?

I don’t think so.

Then there’s the Toronto Raptors.

Personally, the dark horse in this whole saga. This is the same team that basically went all-in on giving away Demar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, with no assurance whatsoever that Kawhi will resign after this year. They’re treating this as a one-shot chance of proving to Leonard that they can actually win the East now that LeBron is gone.

If not, then they just blow the team up and wait for B-rated stars to consider representing Canada in the NBA.

Would the Pelicans reject a deal involving Pascal Siakam (who actually plays like Anthony Davis if you squint) along with OG Anunoby and Delon Wright (a poor man’s version of Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier) and develop that young core? Would the Raptors say no to a deal that would give them Kawhi-Lowry-Davis, which finally separates them from the rest of the East?

I don’t think so too.

How about we throw the Denver Nuggets in the mix?

You could always tell which teams hate each other (Washington Wizards), play for their fantasy stats (Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns), or play for each other – that’s where Denver comes in.

Nikola Jokic has been in the top 4 MVP conversation since the start and the Nuggets are pretty dangerous to face come playoff time. But imagine if somehow, Jokic ends up teaming with Davis. Would that be enough to bring them in a Conference Finals date with Golden State? Would the Pelicans be excited to have their backcourt set with Murray and Harris coming in while betting on Porter Jr to be something when he comes back?

Maybe. I don’t know actually. Let’s move on.

Trading with the Boston Celtics is very tricky. For one, there’s the “no team can have two designated player contracts at the same time.”

Quick sidenote:
When Derrick Rose won the MVP in 2011, the NBPA pushed in the new CBA for what’s now called “The Rose Rule” – if a player on a rookie contract manages to win the MVP
once, be part of the NBA All-Star team twice, or be part of the All-NBA team twice, he will be eligible for a 30% increase in his rookie extension contract. Before the Rose Rule, it was only 25%.
Now back to our regular scheduled programming…

Both Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving are in their “Rose Rule” contract, making it impossible for Davis to be traded to the Celtics unless it’s for Irving. The soonest that the Celtics can trade for AD is on July 1, when Kyrie’s new contract takes effect, assuming he resigns with Boston.

I imagine Danny Ainge biting every bit of his fingernails while waiting for July. For years, we have waited for him to open up his war chest of picks and players. They passed on Paul George. They didn’t make a move on Jimmy Butler. They even gave up on Kawhi Leonard. But if they don’t use it to acquire Anthony Davis, then who else?

Who says no to this – Pelicans get who-could-be-the-next-star in Jayson Tatum along with Marcus Smart’s me-against-the-world mentality and Jaylen-always-behind-Tatum-Brown while the Celtics are going deep with Horford-Davis-Kyrie-flashes of Utah Gordon Hayward?

Tough choice.

Then last but definitely, certainly, undoubtedly, and surely not the least – the LOS ANGELES LAKERS.

My beloved team has missed the playoffs for 4 years now and are currently 2.5 games behind the 8th spot. They have a 34 year-old as their best player that needs to play like he was in Cleveland just to give us a chance night in, and night out. And time is running out.

Magic Johnson knows this.
Rob Pelinka knows this.
And yes, LeBron James knows this.

Which is why they have a one-week window on trading for Anthony Davis. And the Pelicans are asking for the whole farm because they know this too.

At this point, the Lakers are overpaying. But that’s the price to pay for a once-in-a-generation talent.

Like Boston, the Lakers never made a play on PG 13 and were reluctant to give up everything for Kawhi. Now with two max salary cap space available for the next offseason, they’re waiting for players who might never even come.

Klay Thompson? It’s clear he loves Golden State.
Kevin Durant? Why would he leave a team where he’s a shadow behind a great player to join another team and be another shadow of a great player?
Kawhi Leonard? Either he loves Toronto or the Clippers sound like a better option.
DeMarcus Cousins? Meh.

Which is why the Lakers are gearing up for this trade more than any of the teams we’ve listed. They’re on the clock with Davis being the only best player that they could have a chance at for the foreseeable future.

Think about it though – if this trade goes through, Los Angeles basically settles on a Rondo-Ingram-LeBron-Davis-McGee lineup all the way to the NBA Finals.

Is that actually enough? I don’t think so.

I just hope LeBron knows it too.

– David Gamboa


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