Anthony Davis has reportedly expanded the list of teams with which he’d sign long-term to include the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and New York Knicks as well as the Lakers, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Notably, the list does not include the Boston Celtics, who have arguably the best theoretical trade package, but cannot make a move until the summer.
That’s a major difference from the Lakers-only narrative that’s been rumored over the last week. But it’s easy to get lost in what this report — or any other AD news before the deadline —actually means.
Remember, whoever revealed this expanded list has something to gain from it going public.
This leak probably means one thing: AD wants out now
An expanded list of trade destinations appears simple to read: Davis and his camp want him out of New Orleans by Thursday’s trade deadline, before the Celtics are legally allowed to deal for Davis due to this CBA quirk.
But does Davis really want to go to Milwaukee, the other team in L.A. or ... the Knicks?
So far, we know from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Bucks and Clippers haven’t even made an offer for AD yet. With Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas, there’s little for the Knicks to trade to make a deal work, too. The three add-on teams are a hodgepodge that don’t appear to have an offer better than what the Lakers can bring to the table, which seems a bit too coincidental.
Is AD’s camp trying to drum up interest anywhere by encouraging other teams to offer up? Is Rich Paul trying to coerce L.A. into doing more to land his client by introducing competitors? Does AD really not want to go to Boston? Is New Orleans trying to scare the Lakers into offering the lot? (Maybe: Woj has already reported that L.A. offered an assortment of young talent, picks AND salary relief.)
It’s important to think about the motives behind each leak, and realize the addition of three new teams to AD’s list means anything but the Lakers falling behind in the race.
What if the Bucks, Clippers and Knicks are actually in contention, though?
All three teams have young assets or competitive win-now players to swing a deal, though their offers aren’t likely to match up to the Lakers’ best. We’re unsure whether New Orleans’ post-AD ambitions are to rebuild or stay competitive, and that will play an influence as well in the trade the Pelicans eventually take.
The Bucks are an over-performing, successful team with no need to do anythIng spectacular by Thursday. They have the best record in the league, after all.
But should they choose to go all-in, they can award New Orleans with the best win-now option. Any AD deal would likely have to include All-Star Khris Middleton, who is likely to become a free agent this summer. Thon Maker is a quality prospect who has already requested a trade, too.
Maybe something like this could work for AD: Khris Middleton, Tony Snell, Malcolm Brogdon (also an impending free agent), Thon Maker, and a future pick?
Salaries are tough to match in Milwaukee, and the Bucks are already out their 2019 first-rounder.
The Clippers rebuilt quickly after losing Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan to free agency and trading Blake Griffin, but they’re short a superstar talent. Tobias Harris has been a breakout player this year, but his contract is up at the end of the season Will they re-sign him to a max contract? If their mind is made up that he’s not worth that coin, he could become a valuable trade chip to send to NOLA, a smaller-market team who might be more willing to take a max-contract chance on a great-but-not-elite talent.
Maybe something like this could work for AD:
- Tobias Harris, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Williams and multiple picks.
L.A., like Milwaukee, is already out its 2019 first-rounder, though.
The team that seems least likely to get a deal done is New York, since it dealt its best asset to Dallas a week ago. It’s much more likely the Knicks make a deal over the summer, when their first-round pick in the 2019 draft reveals itself. Currently, the Knicks have the worst record in the league, but under new rules would have just a 14 percent chance at getting the No. 1 pick. The second- and third-worst records get those same chances.
It’s hard to even construct what a deal would look like now, but it may look like:
- Enes Kanter, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, their 2019 and 2021 first-round picks, and possibly taking on cap relief from NOLA
This just doesn’t seem likely to happen right now.
Rumors will swirl for the next 72 hours until something either does or doesn’t happen with AD, but this recent wave of reports isn’t a game-changer for the Lakers. The pressure has been on them from the start to make a move happen before Boston can jump in this summer. That hasn’t changed.