For the second time in four months, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be deep in negotiations to trade for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
One reason, among many, that a trade was not completed at the February trade deadline was the Pelicans’ desire to wait until the Celtics could trade for the star after Kyrie Irving became a free agent. But now that discussions have started up again, the Celtics seem further than ever from being able to be a trade partner.
Irving could be leaving the franchise, making them less likely to trade away young talent to acquire a star. And even if they do, Davis’ agent Rich Paul is making it clear that he would only be in Boston for one year before leaving as a free agent.
Following via Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price:
“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul says. “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.”
Paul also confirmed that Davis’ preferred destinations are the Lakers and Knicks.
“My thing is: Take LeBron off the Lakers. Are the Lakers not a great destination for an arguably top-two player that went to Kentucky and won a national championship, signed with Nike? For a team that’s had centers from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq?”
He veers off to speak of the Knicks as an equally alluring destination for AD. “The only difference is, they don’t have as many championships as the Lakers,” Paul says. “They got a tradition. It’s a big market—not that it’s only big markets. They have cap space, flexibility, they’re able to absorb more than one star. What’s wrong with that?”
So far, everything has sort of gone the Lakers’ way. The team that arguably had the best package to get Davis may be out of the running while the other preferred landing spot may need to evaluate their own decision with Kevin Durant’s injury changing the course of their rumored planning.
Of course, things can change. Any team can take the risk of trading for Davis without a guarantee that he will re-sign and it could work for them like it did for the Thunder and Raptors. The threat of the Lakers signing him in a year really only exists if they have the cap space to do so.
But for now, leverage has shifted towards the Lakers thanks to an assist from Rich Paul.