This NBA offseason is going to be absolutely fascinating. With stars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Boogie Cousins, and Jimmy Butler entering the summer as free agents, the dynamic of the league is about to change. However, to me, the player to watch this offseason isn’t necessarily a free agent, it’s Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, who requested a trade earlier in the year. Where will Davis end up?
- Los Angeles Lakers: Let’s start with the obvious pick here. The Los Angeles Lakers need someone to pair with LeBron. The Lakers were insanely aggressive in trying to get Davis at this year’s trade deadline, essentially offering everyone on their team not named LeBron for the six-time All-Star. However, now that the Lakers have added the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft due to the luck of the lottery, they have another big piece that can be used to get Davis in Los Angeles. More importantly, as time goes on, Davis’s value goes down. At last year’s deadline, if he were acquired by the Lakers, he would’ve been under contract for two potential playoff pushes, but now he is only under contract for one more year, as he can become a free agent in 2020. That significantly decreases his value, which could cause the Pelicans to feel better about the package the Lakers once offered, which now might include the fourth overall pick.
- New York Knicks: It seems like this team is in the discussion for literally every available player this offseason, but why can’t the Knicks get Anthony Davis? Dennis Smith Jr. is a talented guard who could learn a lot from an experienced veteran like Jrue Holiday, and the Knicks could send other young pieces with him such as Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, and Frank Ntilikina. Most importantly, the Knicks would likely have to send the third overall pick in the package to land Davis, which will likely end up being Duke star RJ Barrett and former teammate and roommate of likely Pelicans number one pick Zion Williamson. If the Pelicans truly want to invest in Zion Williamson and surround him with the best possible young core, getting his best friend along with more young talent and draft picks from the Knicks is the right move.
- Boston Celtics: As of right now, the Boston Celtics are a very unlikely trade destination for Anthony Davis. However, if Danny Ainge makes one simple decision for the organization, they would immediately become the favorites to land Davis, in my opinion. If Ainge decides to make 21-year-old Jayson Tatum, a player who many executives believe has superstar potential, available as a centerpiece in a trade for Davis, this would become a very realistic and logical option for all parties. The Pelicans get a proven young talent with a ton of room to grow to go along with Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis goes to a proven winner, and the Celtics get a star who can help them win now and maybe even convince Kyrie to stay in Boston. All that needs to happen is Ainge making Tatum available. I don’t expect this to happen and I think it’s wise for Ainge to hang on to Taytum and Jaylen Brown, but if they become available, the Celtics would immediately become favorites in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Along with a lot of cap space to play with this offseason, the Clippers have a strong young core that they could use in order to acquire Anthony Davis to pair with a max contract signing this offseason. In order to get Davis, the Clippers would likely have to move their best two young players, Montrezl Harrell and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, along with future draft picks. Due to the trade of Tobias Harris at this year’s deadline, the Clippers have a lot of draft capital that could be used to get Davis. The potential core for next year of Davis, a player under a max contract who I believe would be Kawhi Leonard, along with Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari would be a strong core for the Clippers and give them a good shot at going far next year.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Okay, just hear me out here. Anthony Davis wants to win before it’s too late for him to be a star on a championship team. Therefore, we’ll say he has about five seasons to live up to that goal (he turned 26 in March). If he stays, it is solely due to his faith in Zion Williamson. Zion is often compared to LeBron, which I’ll admit is a bit strong, but let’s just say the Pelicans hold onto Davis this offseason despite him still wanting a trade. This gives Zion a few months to show Davis his potential and convince him to stay. I don’t think this is a wise idea, as it would significantly lower Davis’s value once again, but it’s a gamble that could end up winning the Pelicans a championship with Zion and Davis if Zion can truly live up to the LeBron-like hype and comparisons that he’s been receiving. Just a thought.
Davis is a six-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA first team selection, and would bring a major boost to whatever team he plays for next year. As of now, the Lakers seem like the best option for David Griffin and the Pelicans organization. However, I would urge the organization to think twice before taking their offer. The Pelicans received an absolute gift a few weeks ago when they got the right to draft Zion Williamson and from here on out, every decision the Pelicans make need to be based on what is best for Zion. In my opinion, the deal that would be best for him is the Knicks offer, allowing him to pair up with an old teammate of his, which would ease the transition for the two from college to the NBA. However, if the Celtics decide to enter the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would both be a huge help for Zion. If the Celtics really want Davis, they’ll be able to get him. If not, I think Davis should end up playing in Madison Square Garden this year.