With the NBA draft approaching next Thursday and the start of free agency weeks away, trade talks for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis have begun in earnest.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are actively engaged in discussions with the Pelicans to deal for the three-time All-NBA center who demanded a trade from the team during the season, ESPN reports.
According to the report, the Lakers have discussed using the No. 4 pick in the draft to include a potential third team in the deal so New Orleans can acquire a high-level veteran in a potential deal.
Davis critical to Lakers’ outlook
For the most part, none of this comes as a surprise. The Lakers have long coveted Davis and reportedly engaged in contentious talks with the Pelicans about a Davis deal prior to February’s in-season trade deadline.
The Lakers are under the gun following a tumultuous season as they look to build a contender around an aging LeBron James.
With top free agents reportedly not considering the Lakers, landing Davis is key to avoiding the disastrous scenario of wasting the back end of James’ prime.
Celtics interested, but the feeling’s not mutual
The Celtics have also had their sights set on Davis for a while and could potentially put together the most attractive offer after years of stockpiling young talent and draft picks.
The problem is that Davis isn’t interested in Boston. He’s long been rumored to be averse to playing there. On Monday, The Athletic reported that Davis had narrowed the list of teams he’d prefer to play for to the Lakers and New York Knicks.
Davis has another year on his deal and will be contractually obligated to play at least one season for whomever deals for him. But his leverage lies in his pending free agency next summer. He can opt to sign a long-term deal with the team that deals for him or bolt after a season in free agency, leaving a team like the Celtics risking parting ways with valuable assets for a one-year rental.
Rich Paul makes clear Davis’ stance
“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul SI. “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.”
Should the Celtics remain in pursuit?
But it appears the Celtics are not dissuaded. And until a Davis deal is done, they shouldn’t be. It would be a mistake to send a treasure trove of assets that would likely include Jayson Tatum and a haul of first-round picks if there was no long-term guarantee.
It seems highly unlikely they’ll get one at this point. But that doesn’t mean they should stop trying.
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