By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Rumors of New Orleans Pelicans franchise player Anthony Davis leaving the NO have ramped up considerably since he switched his representation last summer.
Players switch agents all the time, but Davis becoming a part of Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports family this past off-season, a fam that essentially counts LeBron James as its fraternal head, has made many NBA watchers for months anticipate the moment that came Monday — Davis telling the Pelicans he does not intend to sign an extension with the team and that he essentially wants to be traded.
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first received word of Davis’s plans from Paul, the Chicago native turned All-NBA post presence has no plans to continue playing for New Orleans past his current contract’s end in 2020. As soon as this coming summer, Davis could have locked up a 5-year, $240 million super-max deal that he is eligible for with New Orleans, who initially drafted him in 2012 out of Kentucky.
With that kind of news report, becoming more and more commonplace with the NBA’s top talents, the league now awaits an impending headline deal that will likely put Davis on one of one coast or the other and in the hands of a roster that fully intends to compete with Golden State, the leading candidates being the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
That being said, the news itself, and more specifically the timing of the news, provides three major points to go over:
- The Lakers are now at the top of the Davis sweepstakes
- Davis’ preferred destination is the Lakers
- There is now a guarantee of another major superstar is coming to the Lakers this summer.
Back to AD’s agent Paul, who told Wojnarowski: “Anthony wanted to be honest and clear with his intentions and that’s the reason for informing them of this decision now. That’s in the best interests of both Anthony’s and the organization’s future.”
Paul also stated that Davis wants to play for a playoff/championship contender. The best franchises that provide that option right now and are financially flexible enough to make a deal are the Celtics and Lakers. As a matter of fact, many argue that the Celtics have the better pieces in regards to talent and future draft picks to offer a high quality package deal for Davis’s services.
However, the Celtics cannot enter to the trade sweepstakes right now due to the recently en vogue “Rose Rule.” Thanks to a small, yet impactful quirk inn the collective bargaining agreement, both Davis and Irving are on “Rose Rule” extensions, which allow teams to give young players who reached a certain performance benchmarks bigger/larger extensions earlier.
The rule only allows one player of such quality on their roster — the Celtics now have their one after acquiring Kyrie Irving two summers ago. This is why the timing of the request is impeccable. By telling the Pelicans the request now, it eliminates Boston as a trade destination until the coming summer.
Davis is sending a subliminal message that although Boston may be nice, playing with LeBron James in L.A. is his preference, all the more reason why the Lakers need to strike now while they are on top!
Since acquiring James, the Lakers have not had a positive record when it comes to making off-season moves or setting up moves to come — they missed out on opportunities for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, both high quality players that were reportedly highly interested in playing alongside the King but for the time being do not look like possibilities for the Lakers while LeBron is under contract. But once again, the flashiest team in the NBA is provided the opportunity to use their valuable assets to bring a top 5-player in the league to create a top-5 player duo that can compete with the Golden State Warriors dynasty.
According to Brad Turner of the LA Times, to start negotiations, the Lakers would have to package Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick. This is an ideal package to send to New Orleans while keeping young assets Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. They can also add Ingram and/or Hart to strengthen the deal, or use either of them, more specifically Ingram, in other trade opportunities to maybe provide the Lakers some assistance in the struggling shooting department.
Assuming with high hopes that the Lakers can get this deal done before the trade deadline, the Lakers still head into the summer with cap space for one max-player. Pairing AD with King James will increase the chances of getting a player like Kevin Durant, Leonard, possibly Klay Thompson or even Irving to reconsider staying with their respective teams and consider being part of the next big three in the Western Conference.
The future is bright for the Lakers, but to get the full potential of being a championship contender for years to come they have to pull the trigger and trade for AD right now, eliminating the chance for the Celtics to scoop him up in the summer.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR