Everett: Anthony Davis could provide next big NBA move
Joe Everett | Friday, September 8, 2017
This NBA offseason was crazy.
Due to Kevin Durant’s joining forces with Golden State last offseason, which subsequently led to the Warriors’ domination of the NBA playoffs and second championship in three years, the other 29 teams scrambled this summer to either position themselves to attempt the toppling of Goliath, or to wait until the dynasty eventually burns out.
In the Eastern Conference, Cleveland’s trade of Kyrie Irving to Boston allows both squads the option of either road. The question lies in whether either team is good enough now to challenge the Warriors, and if they’re not, what they can do to become so.
In his 3,500-word letter to the Players Tribune this Wednesday, Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas opened up about his trade from Boston to Cleveland, saying, “I don’t think the Boston Celtics got better making this trade.”
Let’s find out, for the question is simple: Are the Celtics are in a better position to challenge the Warriors after this trade?
Thomas, 28, was traded alongside small forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick and a 2020 second-round selection to Cleveland last month in exchange for Kyrie Irving. The Celtics previously made a splash by signing free agent Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $128 million max deal, which means that the lineup the Celtics will send out against the Cavs on opening night could be: Irving, Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Al Horford, with Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier coming off the bench.
That’s a good team. Irving is a superstar who can take over a game offensively in big-time moments, and you need star-power to beat the Warriors. The Celtics traded quantity for quality, and Irving, especially considering that the Celtics weren’t sure how much Thomas would be able to play this season, does appear to marginally improve the Celtics.
One could make a case that Cleveland improved as well. The Cavaliers had minimal leverage in the trade market for Kyrie, yet got two bona-fide players, a promising developmental project in Zizic, and two future draft picks. Crowder is a versatile two-way player who could help guard a Draymond Green or Kevin Durant on the Warriors, and Thomas, once healthy, can easily help replace Irving’s offensive production.
However, neither the Celtics or the Cavaliers improved to the level needed to beat the Warriors — they just simply don’t have the talent. Both teams are one superstar player away from that status.
Enter Anthony Davis, for example.
Look, I realize this is a long shot. Davis is under contract until 2020 (team option). New Orleans would likely ask the world in return, and all of this would only happen this season if Davis expressed a keen desire to be traded in the first place. However, if it’s midseason, if the Demarcus Cousins experiment in the frontcourt hasn’t worked out and the Pelicans are already looking like a non-contender, then, if you’re Anthony Davis, why would you want to stay in New Orleans? You’re playing for a dysfunctional team without a bright future, so why not request a trade to a team that’s going to play in the Finals? These days, as we saw with Kyrie this summer, players are increasingly exerting more and more influence over their career paths, and it wouldn’t surprise me for Davis to request a trade midway through the season.
Thanks to their recent trade, the Cavs and the Celtics have both the existing personnel and trade assets to pull of what would be blockbuster trade. The Celtics still have a stockpile of draft picks, as well as young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown that New Orleans would have a hard time turning down. However, if Celtics GM Danny Ainge can’t bring himself to pull the trigger, Cleveland could swoop in. The Cavs could put together a package of Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, the 2018 unprotected first-round pick (via Brooklyn) and their 2021 first-round-pick.
In the end, all of this comes down to the struggle of “going for it” versus “sticking with what you have.” Even if they can’t pull of a deal for an Anthony Davis, both teams need to actively seek to add a star this year in order to compete with Golden State. Winning championships and hanging banners should be the goal of both teams, and for the sake of the fans and for the game of professional basketball, both teams should seize the moment and look to win now.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.