Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Only Pelicans executive VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin - and maybe a select few others close to him - knows exactly what New Orleans wants in a potential Anthony Davis trade.
Griffin reiterated on Tuesday that he's committed to trying to keep Davis in New Orleans. Landing the No. 1 overall pick in June gives him another potential selling point for Davis, but the smart money says he will still want to leave New Orleans. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported as much shortly after the Lottery.
So, assuming New Orleans has to deal Davis this summer, which teams can make the best offers? And how can the Knicks push themselves to the front of that group?
Here's a look:
Draft picks: No. 3 pick in 2019; own all first-round picks moving forward. Will receive Dallas' 2021 (unprotected) and 2023 (top-10 protected) first-round picks via the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
Potential players involved: Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier, Frank Ntilikina
The Knicks, and other teams who don't absorb Davis' contract into cap space, need to send out roughly $22 million in a trade to meet NBA rules (this assumes Davis waives his trade bonus). So a deal sending Knox, Smith Jr., Ntilikina, and their No. 3 pick would get them close to the money needed to complete a trade.
It's safe to assume that the Pelicans will have interest in Robinson, who showed an uncanny ability to block shots in his rookie season, and will want the Knicks to include multiple first-round picks. The Knicks' players seem to be less valuable than the Lakers' or the Celtics', but New York could potentially put together the most valuable offer if it includes future first-rounders.
Of course, Davis' openness to re-signing in New York, as SNY reported, could motivate the Knicks to put together a significant offer for the Pelicans' star.
Celtics: Make deal after July 1
Draft picks: 2019 No. 14 pick, No. 20 pick, No. 22 pick; 2020 first-round pick from Memphis (top-six protected), own pick; 2021 own pick, Memphis' first-round pick unprotected if it doesn't convey in 2020
Potential players involved: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown (eligible for extension), Robert Williams, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward
The starting point for the Celtics in any Davis scenario is what happens with Kyrie Irving. If Irving decides to leave Boston, does that leave Boston President Danny Ainge less likely to pursue Davis via trade?
Several reports state that the Celtics see trading for Davis as a way to ensure Irving stays. If that's the case, the Celtics arguably have the best package of picks and young players to offer New Orleans. Though with Brown an extension-eligible player and Tatum not far behind, New Orleans would have to factor in the cost of re-singing those players in any trade with the Celtics.
Also worth noting: Any trade with Boston can't be completed prior to July 1. It's fair to assume the Pelicans wait until after July 1 - when Boston can join the bidding - before they move Davis.
Draft picks: 2019 No. 4 overall pick; own all picks going forward
Potential players: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner
Los Angeles should be motivated to put together a strong deal for Davis. The Lakers, according to reports, are one of the teams that Davis would be open to re-signing with, while some reports say they are his preferred destination. Of course, Davis can't control his own destiny in a trade, but the idea that he wants to join the Lakers should cause them to make a strong offer for the veteran big man.
The Lakers can use cap space to absorb part of Davis' salary in a trade, but that could leave them short of a max slot for another free agent. This is significant.
One executive keeping tabs on free agency said on Wednesday that the scenario of Davis, Irving and LeBron James playing together in Los Angeles next season remains something that he and other opposing execs see as 'very realistic.' It's worth noting the executive was speaking speculatively based on conversations he'd had with others, but that's a scenario certainly worth keeping an eye on.
However, as ESPN reported, the Pelicans don't appear interested in making a deal with LA, even though they were awarded the No. 4 pick in the Draft Lottery. Still, the situation remains a fluid one, and a deal can't be ruled out until Davis is ultimately moved.