Everett: Davis belongs in L.A.
Joe Everett | Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Back in September of 2017, when skies were bluer and temperatures warmer, after Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors marched their way to an NBA title in their first season with Kevin Durant, I wrote a Sports Authority arguing that it was up to other teams to go out and trade for a superstar in order to try to give the Warriors some semblance of actual competition.
I suggested two teams for this mission: the Boston Celtics and the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.
I suggested they seek one player in particular: Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans.
As the month of January draws to a close in 2019, the situation — and the mission — have not changed much. The Warriors have added another NBA championship, and they got even better this past offseason by signing All-Star center Demarcus Cousins to a one-year, $5.3 million deal. Now rolling out a starting lineup of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Durant and a healthy Cousins, the Warriors appear almost unbeatable, destined for a three-peat.
However, recent updates regarding Davis could signal a potential end to the Warriors dynasty — if not this season, then next.
On Monday, Davis’s agent Rich Paul told the Pelicans that their All-Star center requested a trade from the team, informing New Orleans that Davis does not plan to sign a contract extension with the team, becoming a free agent in the summer of 2020.
Many teams have begun to assemble trade packages, but the two biggest contenders to land Davis remain the same: Boston, and LeBron James. Or, more specifically, Boston, and the team that LeBron James is on at any given moment, which now happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers.
The two teams are in different positions, as Boston would not be able to acquire Davis until this summer because of the “Rose Rule” — the Celtics cannot trade for Davis until Kyrie Irving either leaves in free agency or agrees to a new deal. The earliest that can take place is July 1, 2019. Boston would then be able to send New Orleans a combination of young players and draft picks to pair Davis with Irving and the remaining Celtics.
However, I believe all signs to be pointing to the completion of a trade with Los Angeles. Why? That’s where Davis wants to be, or at least that’s what the timing of his announcement seems to indicate, with the NBA trade deadline approaching on Feb. 7.
Tuesday morning, Nick Wright, Fox Sports television personality, proposed a trade that he claimed would benefit both teams. The Lakers would receive Davis in return for Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson, Ivica Zubac and two unprotected first round picks.
Wow. That’s a lot. Yet, if I’m Magic Johnson and the Lakers, I make that trade. Here’s why.
You’re getting a top-five player in the world in return. Who are you pairing him with? Oh that’s right: the greatest player in the game. You’d still have Rajon Rondo, Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the lineup, and you’d probably find a couple 3-and-D guys by the deadline as well.
If you’re the Pelicans, that’s a great haul — and one you can remain fairly competitive with while also building for the future. Sure, one might encourage New Orleans to wait for Boston to offer better assets in the summer, but does Boston have better assets it feel comfortable parting with? Danny Ainge won’t include Jayson Tatum in a package, and so the best New Orleans could receive would be: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and a couple of draft picks. With the Lakers’ package, you get players earlier and can head into the offseason with a bonafide plan, instead of playing a waiting game with Danny Ainge to see what he’ll give up.
However, the real impact of a Davis trade would not be seen this season, but rather this summer. The free agent pool will be stacked with candidates, and a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis would be an extremely attractive landing spot for many players — including those on some of the Lakers’ biggest rival teams, like Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant or even Kyrie Irving.
That’s why what happens with Davis this season has a significant impact on whether or not the Warriors’ dynasty will continue for years to come, or whether it’ll finally be toppled — likely by the team Davis is on. Personally, I’d love to see him in the purple and gold. Magic Johnson, trade the young guys and bring Davis to the city of stars.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.