The New Orleans Pelicans opted to keep Anthony Davis instead of trading him for a mega-package from the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline. The last reported offer from L.A. included Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, a salary filler, two first-round picks and salary absorption in the form of Solomon Hill. But the Pels reportedly wanted four first-round picks, and clearly, New Orleans thinks it can do better than what Magic Johnson offered.
Now, New Orleans is in for a messy few months, where it will have to either sit Davis out or risk him getting hurt. It won’t be an easy call, given that there will be enormous pressure to deal him in June. The boat is rocked, and there’s little hope for smooth sailing.
As soon as the season ends, 29 other teams are sure to line back up to compete for Davis’s services via trade this summer. So buckle up.
Here are the frontrunners in the Davis chase in June.
Had a CBA loophole involving Kyrie Irving’s contract not prohibited it, Anthony Davis might be a Celtic right now. Though Davis is reportedly not interested in re-signing in Boston long term, that probably won’t deter the Celtics. Boston has the clear best fleet of assets to offer up, and in all likelihood, the Celtics are the reason New Orleans didn’t deal AD now.
But everything likely hingers of its willingness to part with Jayson Tatum. He might be the best 23-year-old or under available on the market, but he’s also coveted by Danny Ainge and Boston.
A trade could include: Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier (should he agree to sign-and-trade), Marcus Smart, and two first-round picks. Boston could have four 2019 first-round selections — its own, Sacramento’s, and possibly Memphis’ and the Clippers’ — to offer.
Los Angeles Lakers
If Tatum is in the mix, L.A.’s most recent offer won’t be enough. It’ll have to add even more picks, or invite a third team to help facilitate.
A trade could include: Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, salary relief and three or more first-round picks.
The other team in L.A. really loaded up on assets ahead of the deadline. They dealt an expiring-contract star who they were unlikely to keep in Tobias Harris and added a horde of Sixers goods in return. That lot is one or two quality young pieces away from competing with what the Lakers and Celtics have to offer.
A trade could include: Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, the Sixers’ lottery-protected 2020 first-round pick, the Heat’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick, and two of its own first-round picks.
Whichever team gets the 2019 No. 1 pick
The best asset of all might be whoever gets the top spot in the upcoming draft lottery to snag Duke’s Zion Williamson, a never-before-seen, do-it-all talent. Some feel he’s an All-NBA First Team type in the making, and he’s already one of college basketball’s best-ever players.
Currently, the Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns have the league’s three worst records. This year is different in the NBA, as the three teams with the worst records all get an equal chance at the No. 1 pick in the lottery at 14 percent. In previous years, the worst record had a 25 percent chance at the top spot, then 19.9 percent for the second-worst record, and 13.8 percent for the third-worst.
Which team gets this pick matters. Cleveland almost definitely isn’t in the running with what little they have to offer, but the Knicks and Suns are in play, if and only if, they get the No. 1 pick.
If New York got the top pick it could offer: Zion Williamson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr., two first-round picks and a salary filler.
If Phoenix got the top pick it could offer: Zion Williamson, DeAndre Ayton, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, two first-round picks and a salary filler.
Ultimately, we’re three long months away from this race truly heating up. A dark horse will always enter the mix. A frontrunner will bow out. AD’s list of preferred destinations is sure to change.
But one thing is for sure. The NBA is in for one of its wackiest summers ever, with dueling powerhouses and more chasing after one, game-changing unibrow.