By: Nick Galle
It was announced this week that NBA superstar Anthony Davis has requested a trade to a team that is contending for a title. Davis has spent his entire career with the New Orleans Pelicans organization, but the news comes as no surprise due to the fact that trade rumors surrounding Davis have been floating around the league for the past couple years.
There are a few teams in the mix that could potentially make a trade to acquire Davis, but the two front runners as of right now appear to be the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
If one of these teams can make a trade for the former Kentucky standout, the entire league as a whole will become altered. There are also a few other teams that might try and pursue Davis as part of a greater scheme. Let’s take a look at where Anthony Davis could land, what pieces would have to be given up in a trade in order to acquire the big man, and just how much each trade could change the entire league.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking like the front runners to make a trade for Davis, and they have the pieces in order to do so. For Lakers fans, the duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron would be a match made in heaven. While the duo would be a dominant force in the West, making a trade for Davis might not be the smartest idea for the Lakers when it comes to their future.
There is no doubt that Davis and LeBron would be a power combo, but at what cost? That is a decision that GM Rob Pelinka is going to have to make. The Pelicans would likely want a package including picks, Ivica Zubac, Lonzo Ball, and/or Kyle Kuzma. Regardless of the specifics of the trade, the Lakers are going to have to trade their future for the present if they want to acquire Davis. While the Celtics might be in the same exact situation, a case could be made that the young players on the Lakers play a bigger role for their team than Boston’s do at the moment. Ball and Kuzma are key players on this L.A. team behind LeBron and while you might be adding Davis, you lose the two guys that you need for the future. In addition to those two pieces, you also could lose a pick, as well as Zubac, who has been proving himself this season as another potentially key part to the future.
Now if the Lakers are able to make this trade, not only are they a force to be reckoned with this year, the Pelicans suddenly have a bright future. It was reported by sources that the Pelicans are also shopping around Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic, so it appears they are in full rebuild mode. Adding talents like Ball, Kuzma, and Zubac could be an extremely strong foundation for that rebuild. With Elfrid Payton at just 24-years-of-age, and Jrue Holiday (21.2ppg, 8.1apg, 4.9rpg) proving himself as a team leader, look for the Pelicans to possibly be a playoff contender three to five years down the road.
So what does all this mean for the Lakers? It means they could arguably have the best duo in the NBA, but their future might be a bit of a gray area. Once LeBron is healthy, there is a chance that Los Angeles could pose a threat to Golden State, but look for the Warriors to still be the team that comes out of the West. If this trade does happen, L.A. should hope that Brandon Ingram turns out to be the player people expected him to be, because he would now be Los Angeles’ top prospect for the future.
Another team with Anthony Davis trade rumors surrounding them are none other than Los Angeles’ rival, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have been supposedly pursuing Davis since last season’s deadline, so the organization has become accustomed to these rumors.
Like the Lakers, if the Celtics really wanted to acquire Davis, they would be looking at giving up significant pieces to their future. There have been no specifics given, but Boston would probably be looking at giving up a package that included at least one pick, Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, and/or Jaylen Brown. Tatum would likely be the centerpiece of the deal, as he has the highest potential out of the trio. It was rumored that Rozier was on the trading block earlier this season, but those rumors were never confirmed. Trading Gordon Hayward is also not out of the question, as Hayward’s production this season has been far from what it used to be with the Utah Jazz. Hayward has clearly not been his usual self due to the gruesome injury sustained last season and Celtics fans have been starting to become fed-up with his lack of production. While it might be unlikely that Hayward gets traded, there is no doubt that he might very well be available, and could be a nice addition for the Pelicans.
If the Celtics were to trade for the NBA star, it would have to be in the off-season as opposed to the deadline. Boston cannot make a deal for Davis without parting ways with Kyrie Irving. The Celtics have been building an unbelievable team over the past six years, and adding Davis could be the final piece to crafting a championship team. If the Celtics do indeed want a championship though, they need to make sure that Irving re-signs. If the Celtics have Davis with no Irving, or Irving with no Davis, than the hopes of bringing another championship back to Boston will have to wait another couple years. Bringing Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving together should be the main focus for the Celtics right now. The two have apparently talked about teaming up, so this off-season could be the perfect opportunity to do so. Even though they will have to give up some great talent, Boston will still have the role players to pick up the slack. If the C’s do indeed lose guys such as Tatum, Brown, and Rozier, than look for players such as Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart to fill in the gaps. If the Pelicans can acquire these pieces from the Celtics, their future will surely be bright. A trade with the Lakers or the Celtics could offer New Orleans an extremely strong foundation for a rebuild.
New York Knicks
While the Knicks are not one of the teams that are considered to be a front runner to land Davis, they apparently do have plans of building a strong team this upcoming season. Rumors have been spread around the league regarding New York’s potential targets this off-season. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are both free agents this summer, and New York has been in the conversation when it comes to signing one of these stars. New York is also projected to draft Duke’s Zion Williamson, who has been impressive under Mike Krzyzewski thisyear, averaging 22 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. Assuming the Knicks maintain Kristaps Porzingis through all of this, they would have a very attractive super team, as well as some pieces to trade for Davis.
Let’s say that the Knicks add Durant and draft Williamson while still keeping Porzingis. New York now has a three-headed monster, and can make that monster even scarier by trading for Davis. The Knicks would have to have a big signing and draft pick in order for AD to come to the Big Apple, as he wants to go to a contender. New York has a lot of role players they could trade such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier. Enes Kanter has performed at a very high level so far this season, making him an option for the Pelicans to look at. Trade packages between the Knicks and Pelicans have not really got much attention, so the players involved are still up in the air.
If these moves are made, it would be the absolutely best case scenario for the New York Knicks. It would be extremely unlikely for their off-season to play out in this way, but if it did, the NBA would have another super team on their hands to match-up with the Warriors. Even if New York can only add one or two of these pieces, they are still trending in the right direction toward their first playoff appearance since the 2012-2013 season.
Oklahoma City Thunder
AD in OKC is nothing short of a hot take. With that being said, if he wants to go to a contender, the Oklahoma City Thunder are one big name away from being right up there with the best in the West, maybe even the best in the league. If Davis were to be traded to the Thunder, the Warriors would have some serious competition, especially if Kevin Durant decides not to re-sign. Oklahoma City could honestly make a championship run if they can add Davis without giving up too much.
Any team with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Anthony Davis is going to perform just fine. The only question for the Thunder is if they have the right pieces to give to the Pelicans. Unlike the Celtics and Lakers, Oklahoma City does not really have an attractive package to offer up to New Orleans. If they really want to pursue Davis, OKC might have to consider parting ways with Steven Adams in order to satisfy the needs of the Pelicans. New Orleans will need more length due to the departure of Davis, especially if they do end up trading Randle and Mirotic. The trade would also have to likely involve Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant, and another role player such as Patrick Patterson or Alex Abrines. Don’t expect the Thunder to be the team that goes out and makes a blockbuster trade for Davis, but at the same time, don’t rule them out of the race for the five-time all-star.
At the end of the day, where Davis ends up is truly up to him. There is no doubt that he will be alongside at least one other NBA superstar next season, it just depends what city that will happen in.
In the coming years, Davis will be part of a team that does what the Pelicans have not really been able to do over the past decade, and that’s win games. A player like Davis deserves to achieve some success throughout the course of his career and it’s looking like he will do whatever it takes in order to do that. Will this success be achieved in a purple and gold jersey? A green and white one? A blue and orange one? We will have to wait and find out. Wherever Davis goes, success is going to follow him there.
Cover photo via: Getty Images
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