In advance of the upcoming NBA trade deadline – and his ability to sign a massive $240 million extension – the New Orleans Pelicans’ star Anthony “The Brow” Davis has informed the team that he will not be signing that extension and would like to be traded.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski “Woj bombed” NBA Twitter this morning with the news, reporting that Davis’ agent (and LeBron James bestie) Rich Paul has informed the Pelicans that he wants to be traded “to a team that allows him a chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” something that he feels that he is not getting in New Orleans.
What does this mean for the rest of the NBA? Obviously, the desire to win championships limits his destination teams pretty dramatically, as well as every team save the Sacramento Kings being over the salary cap, meaning that most teams would have to match Davis’ current $25M+ salary in any trade offer.
Luckily for us, we have the NBA Trade Machine that allows us amatuer GMs to build trades (at least among players) to see if salaries can match and all that. It was the first place I went this morning, and I came up with a couple of trades (that I’ll get to in a minute).
With Davis currently injured, as well as under contract beyond this season, it might be in the Pelicans’ best interest to wait until the offseason to offload their current superstar, if only so they can see where ping pong balls fall in the lottery and whether some of their biggest suitors will have appropriate draft capital to offer to sweeten the deal.
Nevertheless, it is possible that Davis gets traded before next week’s deadline, and most people seem to think the ultimate landing spot for Davis is going to be one of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, or even the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers would likely have to include two players from their young core (and filler to match salaries), while the Celtics are probably better poised to make a move in the summer if Davis lasts that long. The 76ers would have to make a hard decision to move on from one of their Big Three not named Joel Embiid (Ben Simmons or Jimmy Butler). Other teams could offer a big city and bright-ish future, a legendary coach, or the ability to play power forward next to the best defensive center in the league.
Here’s a handful of trades that might work:
AD to the Lakers
This trade “works,” but I doubt the Pelicans would take this garbage from the Lakers just to make the money work, even with max draft picks included. That’s why I like this one better:
The Lakers will likely need to include KCP in any deal to make the salaries work, but two young players (and maybe a draft pick or two) from LeBron’s Lakers could make it work. Swap out Ball for Brandon Ingram and you need to find another million dollars in salary on the Lakers side of things, but that could also work.
AD to the Celtics
As mentioned, the Celtics probably have the best “assets” and can create the best package of players and picks to land Davis over the summer, especially if they want to pair Davis with Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum. Here’s a deal that would work money wise, and the Celtics would probably part with at least a couple of picks in this one:
The Celtics could offer Hayward straight up of Davis, but Hayward isn’t quite back to where he was before his broken leg last year, so the Pelicans would probably want more. But a deal like this is comploicated because Davis and Irving cannot be on the same team at the same time due to salary cap rules, at least until the summer and Irving is potentially on a new contract. But maybe the Celtics are getting a little tired of Irving and his disdain for his younger teammates and are ready to move on?
Bye to Kyrie, build the new Celtics around AD and Jayson Tatum (and a healthier Hayward in future seasons)? Might be good enough, but it doesn’t really improve the Celtics this season, so let’s move Kyrie elsewhere as part of a three-team trade:
Who knows what the Pelicans want in return for Davis, but this would give them some roster flexibility beyond the season, while giving the Knicks a player they have long coveted. The Celtics are probably throwing in a lot of their draft picks in this one to make it happen (and it also doesn’t improve them much this season), but if the Celtics want to move on from Kyrie – while also trading him somewhere that he wants to go – this would be the way to do it.
AD to the 76ers
If the 76ers are ready to run with Joel Embiid as the cornerstone of the franchise, it might not make sense to bring in Davis, though Davis can play his preferred power forward when sharing the floor with Embiid:
…but the Sixers would have to move on from Ben Simmons, who doesn’t make that much money, or the mercurial Jimmy Butler:
Butler might actually make more sense in the grand scheme of things; they wouldn’t lose Redick’s shooting, which would be needed with Simmons staying on the team. Butler probably wouldn’t be happy, but he hasn’t been happy since he left the bulls (or even before), so maybe he just never will be.
AD to the Raptors
I doubt the Raptors get involved in this, but they also traded for Kawhi Leonard when nobody else was expecting it, so you never know.
Davis would obviously be an upgrade over Ibaka, though the Raptors would probably need to sweeten the pot a bit with one of their younger swingman like OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam, as well as a draft pick or two. But getting Davis, even if it’s mostly for the playoffs after his current injust heals, would make the Raptors the favorite in the East, while also weakening their direct competitors (because the Sixers or Celtics missed out on Davis).
AD traded elsewhere
The next couple of trades are just fun and won’t probably happen in a million years, but you never know in today’s NBA.
AD to the Spurs
Honestly, I only did this because The Ringer’s Shea Serrano mentioned it on Twitter. The Spurs have the infrastructure to be good, led by world-class coach Greg Popovich, though I’m sure the Spurs would need to find more for the Pelicans than this.
AD to the Jazz
Instead of waiting for Derrick Favors to improve and compliment Rudy Gobert, why not trade him for what the best outcome would be for Favors? Swap poor shooting point guards and you have the makings of a great team in Salt Lake… though Davis would probably leave Utah at the first opportunity. This old Jazz fan can dream though…
There you have it. The possibilities are endless obviously, but we should know soon whether the Pelicans get great value for Davis, or only the best that they could right now. If I was them, I would wait until the summer, but you never know how not trading someone will affect your team for the remainder of the season.
Until next time…