Over the past several months, we’ve heard Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo jokingly ask Anthony Davis to come join their teams. But now it seems that all this banter might not be such a joke after all! Everybody wondered if the big man would abandon the smaller Pelicans franchise for a real championship contender and now it seems the inevitable is finally happening. On Monday, Davis announced that he won’t re-sign with the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Big Announcement
Despite being eligible for a five-year, $240 million contract extension, Davis has requested a trade out of New Orleans to seek bigger and better opportunities with NBA teams more likely to hang a banner. According to his agent, Davis wants to play for a team “that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship.” After next season, he can opt out of his current contract as Davis is scheduled to become a free agent in the summer of 2020. His team hasn’t expressed the desire to trade him midseason, but the official trade deadline of February 7th is looming conspicuously on the horizon.
Last month, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, “We’re not trading him. I can say that to the world. We’re not going to trade him, no matter what. That’s not an option.”
Still, NBA teams around the nation are undoubtedly scrambling to put together a “package” big enough to get the Pelicans to the bargaining table. If Davis’s announcement has in fact changed things for New Orleans, don’t expect them to give him away for nothing! Either way, the team has about a week to decide.
The Potential Star Power of Anthony Davis
The versatile center and power forward is having the best season of his career right now, averaging a double-double with 29.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. In the coming weeks, we’ll probably see him named as an NBA All Star for the sixth time in his career.
But with the Pelicans, Davis has never advanced beyond the second round of the Playoffs. Currently the team ranks 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 22-28, certainly nothing to write home about. Davis once claimed that he has to “play almost perfect” for his team to have a chance to win. Since he was drafted number-one overall in 2012, playing for the Pelicans is all Davis has known and it’s clear he’s ready to spread his wings.
Which NBA Teams Want Davis?
So now that we know he’s not extending his existing contract, where will Anthony Davis go? Who is really trying to sweet talk him? There are lots of big-name teams vying for the 25-year-old, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors.
First off, according to the NBA’s designated rookie exception rules, the Celtics can’t go after him until they trade Kyrie Irving, who isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until July 1st of this year. Unless they trade Irving sooner, that gives Lebron plenty of time to get a headstart on wooing Davis to LA. (Though, the merits of having Lebron on your team when it comes to attracting new stars have been hotly debated.) If they can hold out, the Celtics could obtain young players like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum from Boston in return.
It’s the Lakers who are generating perhaps the most buzz when it comes to acquiring Davis. Right now, they’ve got Lebron leading a pack of young players, most of whom they’re apparently willing to trade for a second star player. That means the Pelicans could stand to gain players like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, or Kyle Kuzma with a trade. The Lakers also have room under their salary cap to get Davis paid after a few veteran players’ contracts expire soon. Also, fun fact to add a little drama to the mix: Lebron and Davis have the same agent…
The Toronto Raptors made aggressive trades for star player Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, making it clear they’re not just trying to play well – they’re trying to win a championship. We have no idea what Leonard thinks of a potential trade for Davis, however. Leonard, who doesn’t speak much and who didn’t want to go to Toronto in the first place, will no doubt have a say in his team’s potential acquisition. A possible pairing of Leonard with Davis does sound incredible though. The Raptors also have money available in veteran contracts, though probably not as much to offer the Pelicans as the Lakers do. Still, they too can start throwing out offers right away if they want Davis on their team.
That’s not an exhaustive list of NBA teams interested in Anthony Davis by any means. The Knicks, Nets, and the Clippers are all reported possibilities and several other teams around the nation are likely sizing up their rosters and budgets to see if they have a shot at trading for him. The struggling Pelicans are going to demand a lot for their best player and his impending free agency gives Davis a big say in where he goes. That’s because no NBA team is going to give up key players and picks for him if they don’t think they have a chance at re-signing him in 2020. While his agent hasn’t released any cities or teams that Davis is considering just yet, you can bet that he’ll have his pick!