With trade speculation swirling around Anthony Davis, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes that Davis’ situation is the NBA’s biggest ongoing story, contending that the media didn’t create that story — the calendar did. With the Pelicans now in 14th place in the Western Conference at 15-20 and Davis’ super-max eligibility just over six months away, it’s only logical that NBA insiders – including media, agents, and executives – will start taking a closer look at Davis’ future, says Lowe.
Davis hasn’t expressed interest in a trade. He also hasn’t told people close to him that he wants to join the Lakers or any other specific team if he decides to leave New Orleans, sources tell Lowe.
Still, Lowe – who hears that teams expect Davis to sign a series of shorter-term contracts – is predicting that the All-NBA big man will eventually turn down the Pelicans’ super-max offer when the team puts it on the table in the offseason. If that happens, Davis would effectively become a free agent, according to Lowe, since he’d be on an expiring contract and will have passed on the Pelicans’ best possible extension offer.
Here’s more from Lowe on Davis and the Pelicans:
- Explaining why the Lakers and Celtics are most frequently cited as the logical trade partners for the Pelicans if they eventually decide to move Davis, Lowe runs through several other options – including the Heat, Spurs, Bulls, Knicks, and Sixers – and has trouble finding another team with the necessary assets to make it work.
- As Lowe details, the Heat, Spurs, Bulls, and Knicks would have to give up virtually all the players Davis would want as teammates, and Klutch’s representation of Ben Simmons would complicate a Philadelphia scenario. The Warriors would have interest, according to Lowe, but they wouldn’t trade Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, and it would be tricky to make a deal work with Klay Thompson (a 2019 free agent) or Draymond Green as a centerpiece.
- Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer covers similar ground in an article of his own, taking a deep dive into the Davis situation and exploring possible outcomes and trade scenarios. One interesting note from O’Connor, who examines whether the Pelicans can improve their roster around Davis: The Pelicans have never gone into the luxury tax, and front office executives don’t expect them to anytime soon.
- On the non-Davis front, Lowe revisits some previous Pelicans roster moves, citing sources who say that the team considered spending all its cap room in 2016 on Harrison Barnes. Instead, New Orleans ended up with E’Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill — the investment in Moore has worked out, but Hill’s contract has become an albatross.
- Although the Pelicans’ 2017/18 in-season acquisition of Nikola Mirotic essentially served as a response to DeMarcus Cousins‘ season-ending Achilles injury, they were actually in trade talks for Mirotic even before that injury, per Lowe. Davis, Cousins, and Mirotic couldn’t have all been on the court together, so it’s not clear how New Orleans’ plan would have worked if Cousins hadn’t gotten hurt — it was “the sort of jumble that materializes when a team flings itself from plan to plan,” writes Lowe.