Hello, folks. The 2019 NBA season is officially over, but the drama is *far* from it. Once the Toronto Raptors were donned the new NBA champions, we skipped straight into free agency rumors.
At the center of said rumors is New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis, who is set to be a free agent in the summer of 2020. And a lot sure has happened in just the past few days, so let’s quickly get up to date with all the latest scuttlebutt.
For starters, we know that David Griffin (the man in charge of trading Davis) has made it public he is searching for a third team to complete any potential trade. Of the teams to inquire about Davis, according to ESPN, are the Clippers, Lakers, Knicks, and Nets. Basically, the four teams we all expected to throw its hat in the ring first. But one team is noticeably missing; the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics have reportedly been reluctant to go all-in on a potential Davis trade (a deal that would likely include budding star, Jayson Tatum). Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN that the Pelicans view Tatum as the best prospect they could snag from any team.
“I think Boston’s assets are more fluid. It’s very clear in L.A. who you are going to put in a deal. But there are really two ways to go in Boston: If Boston is willing to do Jayson Tatum and maybe not a lot else, or a deal built around Jaylen Brown and a bevy of those future Boston picks,” Woj explained. “But the one thing with New Orleans, if Tatum did get into an offer, he’s the best available player for the Pelicans in any deal they can come up with.”
The big question for Boston is whether or not they believe soon-to-be free agent Kyrie Irving will resign with the team this summer. After Irving recently dropped his longtime agent and signed with Jay-Z’s ROC Nation, all signs are pointing that he might be heading out the door and up the road to Brooklyn.
Boston’s Kyrie Irving is expected to partner with ROC Nation Sports for representation, league sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/2ZQnKvDaLV
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2019
And if that were to be the case, the odds of Davis resigning with Boston shrink even more. Add on top the fact that Davis’ now-infamous agent, Rich Paul, publicly told the Celtics in an interview with Sports Illustrated to leave him, Davis, and the Pelicans the hell alone.
“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul told Sports Illustrated. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual (obligations) and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”
Would Danny Ainge (Boston’s General Manager) be willing to drop his best prospect along with a deep chest of assets for one-year of Davis and no Irving?
It would be similar to the same risk that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors trapped themselves in when they traded for “one-year rentals” of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, respectively. George signed a max deal with OKC and Leonard just won an NBA title. It’ll be tempting for Boston to try and follow that path with the track record marking some recent success, but neither of those two players had their agent being this vocal about not wanting to resign with a team they aren’t even on yet.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently stated that the Pelicans would prefer to send Davis to Boston (in hopes they can secure Tatum) and they can do so against Davis and Paul’s wishes. Remember, David Griffin is going to do whatever is best for his team, not whatever is going to make Rich Paul happy. If that means shipping Davis to Boston for one-year for an incredible haul, he will absolutely do so.
The Lakers have already presented a package containing at least Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and the No. 4 overall pick in the upcoming draft, according to ESPN. Los Angeles are supposedly hanging on to Kyle Kuzma and currently withholding him from any potential deals (why they are doing this with Kuzma instead of Ingram, I don’t quite understand. But I digress). Windhorst has also said that the Pelicans are already shopping the Lakers No. 4 pick, likely trying to entice a third team into any potential deal.
As of right now, it would appear that the Lakers are the most serious in its efforts to land Davis. They can offer the best package and are more willing to part with young prospects than Boston (i.e., Tatum). All this information also gives Griffin a ton of leverage to use against the Lakers. He doesn’t have to trade Davis by the end of the week or even by the end of the year. Griffin can hold on to Davis until he gets the exact deal he wants. And if the Lakers strike out early in free agency, they’ll cave and offer the house.
As for potential sleeper teams, there might not be many that could even get the framework for a deal laid out. The Portland Trail Blazers have C.J. McCollum and some interesting young players, but would ultimately need a third team to get it done. The Clippers and Nets are probably the two big underdogs that actually have the assets to make the foundation of a deal. At this very moment, the Lakers should be the favorites to land Davis, but we have a long way to go before we even hit free agency. The NBA Finals just finished less than 24 hours ago. It’s only going to get crazier from here.