Davis, who can opt out of his contract after next season, relayed through his agent that he would like to join a team “that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship.”
The opportunity to land a player of Davis’ calibre is extremely rare, so the bidding for his services figures to be as competitive as it comes. Here are six teams who could potentially swing a trade for ‘The Brow.’
If the Pelicans plan on moving Davis at the trade deadline as opposed to the off-season, the Lakers figure to be the frontrunner. Los Angeles is looking for another established superstar to pair with LeBron James, and the Lakers have plenty of assets to ship to New Orleans in return. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma are all intriguing young pieces who could be of interest to the Pelicans. The Lakers have already made it known they’re open to dealing a combination of these players if the right opportunity comes along, and acquiring Davis would certainly be the right deal.
So the Lakers presumably have the young talent to get a trade done, and they have veterans on expiring contracts that can be used to match up salary in a trade — a requirement in the NBA. The likes of Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope come off the books at season’s end, which would give the Pelicans flexibility to head in a number of directions this off-season.
One other factor that might make the Lakers favourites in the Davis sweepstakes? Both Davis and James are represented by the same agent, Rich Paul.
Boston has long been tied to Davis rumours, but wouldn’t be able to trade for the big man until the summer unless the Celtics move Kyrie Irving as well. Irving and Davis both signed contract extensions under the “Rose Rule” and a team is only permitted to have one such player on its roster.
Still, if the Pelicans are willing to wait until the off-season to make a deal, the Celtics seem like a great trade partner. Boston is loaded with emerging talent and also has a bevy of future draft picks that would be enticing to a rebuilding or re-tooling club like New Orleans. Unless he’s absolutely blown away by an offer, it could serve Pelicans GM Dell Demps well to exercise patience and wait until the Celtics can officially enter the fray. A bidding war never hurts a seller.
When the Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard last summer, Masai Ujiri put the league on notice. It became clear the Raptors weren’t content with being a perennial playoff team; it’s championship or bust.
With Davis on the table, Ujiri has a chance to truly go all-in for a title in 2018-19. The Raptors have been in first or second place in the Eastern Conference all season, and pairing Davis with Leonard would be a sight to behold. The duo would instantly form the best two-way tandem in the league, with both stars able to take over a game offensively or defensively.
But could the Raptors really put a compelling enough trade package together? It seems like they have the pieces to at least get conversations moving. Pascal Siakam has emerged as a budding star, and would likely be the main target for the Pelicans. OG Anunoby is another attractive trade chip, and has shown flashes of the type of player he could develop into with increased opportunity. The Raptors also have a number of veterans on lucrative contracts that could be used to match up salaries.
The Raptors probably can’t match up with what the Lakers could offer, but have an advantage over the Celtics in that they don’t have to wait until the summer to begin negotiations.
If the Lakers can’t pull off a blockbuster, don’t count the other Los Angeles team out from the running. The Clippers likely couldn’t put together as lush a package as the other teams on this list, but crazier things have happened.
The Pelicans could use a point guard to help usher in their new era, and the Clippers have one of the most promising young players at the position in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Up front, power forward Montrezl Harrell is enjoying a breakout season, averaging almost 16 points per game off the bench. Harrell isn’t close to being in the same league as Davis, but at age 25 he still has room for further growth.
To balance salaries, New Orleans could also include Tobias Harris, who will hit unrestricted free agency this off-season after rejecting an extension from the Clippers in July. Harris is enjoying the best season of his career and could be in consideration for an all-star selection. Throw in a pick or two, and Los Angeles might just have enough to make New Orleans consider an offer. The Clippers also have multiple max contract slots available come July, so extending Davis and adding more around him is a very real possibility.
The Knicks aren’t a team that is going to compete for a championship this season, but they are reportedly preparing an offer for Davis. The Knicks could dangle Kristaps Porzingis, who hasn’t played in almost a calendar year due to a torn ACL, as well as what could be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. Adding Davis could also help in the Knicks’ expected pursuit of Kevin Durant this summer.
After years of futility, the Nets finally seem to be coming out of the shadows. Brooklyn is one of the hottest teams in the NBA and has rocketed up to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Without any major contracts on the books beyond this season, Brooklyn is in a position to add a player of Davis’s standing. The question is do they have enough to land him? The Nets have a number of players on expiring contracts, so matching up salary shouldn’t be an issue. They also have a couple of building blocks in centre Jarrett Allen and small forward Caris LeVert, who is targeting a February return from a dislocated right foot. Brooklyn finally has a steady stream of future draft picks available, but would it be reluctant to part with selections after the infamous Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett trade debacle of 2013? Anthony Davis is a gamble worth making.