Anthony Davis has requested a trade from his current team, the New Orleans Pelicans.
For a generational talent such as Davis, New Orleans will have the whole NBA calling to acquire the former Kentucky big man. However, New Orleans has made it clear that they are going to take their time and deliberate about their decision.
The main candidates for trading the 25-year-old big man are the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and a dark horse candidate in the New York Knicks. However, there is an unlimited number of other possible trades that could happen including other superstar-hungry teams, and the Pelicans wish to explore those options.
The Pelicans still have to play out this year. But if they continue down this path of losing, they’re likely to have a pretty solid draft choice. They’ll probably wait until after the draft lottery to make any deals because they will want to evaluate their trade decision based on the drafting order.
But for this scenario, let’s say that the Pelicans go full-on “Trust The Process,” bench Davis for the rest of the year, get lucky in the lottery and get the first overall pick. This is truly an idealization of what could happen for New Orleans and is unlikely as their sports have had some rotten luck as of late (see the recent NFC Championship game).
If this happens though, the Pelicans could easily draft Zion Williamson, the young Duke phenom who is more or less the consensus first overall pick, and would be a perfect replacement for Davis. Therefore, the Pelicans won’t be as concerned with acquiring a high pick in the upcoming draft, as they would mostly be concerned with getting the best prospects available.
I ran these trades through the NBA Trade Machine, but that isn’t necessarily the best telling if a trade would work in the offseason because trades could happen before the trade deadline as well as free agent signings.
I came up with the following scenarios for trades that the Pelicans could make in the order of what trade I think would benefit the Pelicans the most. The Celtics trade would have to be in the offseason due to the Rose Rule, and the Knicks deal would most likely be in the offseason as well due to the Pelicans wanting to wait for the draft lottery to reveal the drafting order. The Lakers deal could happen before the deadline if the Pelicans are that desperate to tank without benching Davis for the rest of the season.
Davis Goes to Beantown: NO Receives Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford. MEM 2019 First Round Pick (Top Eight Protected) BOS Receives Davis and Julius Randle
This trade is a very intriguing one, and would truly be the best of both worlds. The Celtics would get some much-needed frontcourt depth while also getting Davis. The Pelicans would get two potential superstar wings and a solid veteran big man who could help in Zion’s development defensively, as well as give the Pelicans a really good player.
Now, this is assuming Boston would be willing to break the bank for Davis, and this is assuming that the Pelicans are willing to part ways with a solid, young, big man such as Julius Randle. However, the Pelicans would also be receiving a really good pick as Memphis has looked horrendous this season and lacks the young talent to really improve at all. So, their pick will be valuable.
Even if the pick falls within the top eight and is protected, it will still be valuable for future years as the Pelicans continue their rebuild. The pick’s protection will continue to be reduced as the years go on (hoping that the trigger-happy general manager, Dell Demps, doesn’t trade the pick, as he was infamous for throughout the Davis era)
Davis Hits Hollywood: NO Receives Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 2022 LAL Lottery Protected First Round Pick LAL Receive Davis
This trade would make the Lakers look very eager (some would even say desperate) to take advantage of the Lebron era. They would be giving up three very promising young players and a future first rounder. But the three youngsters have had very up and down starts to their careers, and Lebron isn’t getting any younger, as shown by his recent stint on the sidelines due to the groin injury.
However, from the Pelicans side of this trade, some would argue that they would not be getting enough in this scenario. A transcendent superstar like Davis should be demanding more than the Lakers have to offer. But, Davis might put the Pelicans in a bind in these upcoming weeks if he issues a statement saying he only wants to play for the Lakers and that other teams would be trading for a rental.
If he does such a thing, the Lakers could lowball the Pelicans. The pick being thrown in would be the Pelicans simply trying to make the best of a bad situation, as the pick would be near the end of Lebron’s contract. The Pels would be banking on Lebron declining as he continues to get up there in age (fat chance eh?).
But in all fairness, the Pelicans would be making a smart move here, as they would be starting their rebuild with a solid young core and would start trying to simply build for the future and hope one of these young guys turns into an All-Star caliber player. But that is a big risk to take.
Davis Heads to The Big Apple: NO Receives Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, 2019 NYK First Round Pick (Unprotected) NYK Receive Davis
This isn’t a great trade for New Orleans, but it also isn’t the worst deal either. This is assuming the Knicks are trying to win next year and are confident they can sign Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker or any other superstar that will be hitting free agency next year. This is also assuming that the Knicks continue their losing ways for the rest of the year, resulting in another high draft pick for the Pelicans to take advantage of (RJ Barrett anyone? Or maybe Ja Morant?).
The Pelicans would now have a decent starting five of Frank Ntilikina/Ja Morant/Free Agent Acquisition, RJ Barrett/Jrue Holiday/Free Agent Acquisition, Kevin Knox/E’Twaun Moore (assuming he’s not traded at the trade deadline)/Free Agent Acquisition, Zion/Nikola Mirotic (same situation as Moore) and Julius Randle. That starting five isn’t terrible. It has some potential upside, and they could continue their rebuild while having some solid pieces set in place.
Some Final Thoughts On The Subject
There will be some outrage from the Pelicans’ fan base due to the “potential” (come on now everybody, let’s be honest with ourselves) tampering violations committed by Lebron and the Lakers. But, coming from a Pelicans fan, New Orleans dug its own grave. They failed to surround a top-five player with talented players by making short-sighted decisions that never worked out.
The Pelicans front office is who should be feeling the rage of the Pelicans’ fan base, not Davis. Sure, Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, have been holding the Pelicans’ franchise hostage for the past couple of days with this trade request, but that’s what happens in today’s NBA. The players have all the power. And if you don’t like it, well… good luck.