Welcome to the first installment of the Red94 round table! We will be running more of these round table posts throughout the remainder of the season as new storylines and topics come up, so be on the lookout for those. Today we have a couple of our staff writers answering questions surrounding Anthony Davis’ trade request, so without further ado, let’s get right into the questions.
1) What is your initial gut reaction to the news of Anthony Davis requesting a trade?
Justin Levine: My initial reaction is not one of surprise. A Davis trade has long since been rumored, and the Pelicans unfortunately have not been able to successfully build a contender around him. When Davis switched to Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports during the offseason, the writing to me seemed on the wall. The question is: where will he go? (please don’t be the Warriors, Lakers or Celtics).
Kevin Glass: Not surprising. Though it’s nice to hope that even struggling teams could retain stars, the banter around Davis leaving New Orleans was too strong to just be a media-invented fiction. For Houston’s sake they’ll exile him to the East before he can get a real say in free agency.
David Allen: It should be no surprise that Anthony Davis is requesting a trade. There have been rumors since the beginning of the season and his agent Rich Paul is known for encouraging career decisions like this.
Zee Siddiqi: Not surprising. The “will he or won’t he” situation with AD in New Orleans has been bubbling for quite some time. I’d imagine the Pelicans brass had a sliver of hope of retaining him after their surprise sweep of the Blazers in last year’s playoffs, but all in all, this was the most likely outcome. The Pelicans could never get it quite right from a roster construction standpoint and when it seemed like they were on the verge of breaking through, injuries always held them back. In an era of superstars controlling their own destiny, small market teams really need to be perfect in their pursuit of keeping superstars at home – and even then, it still may not work out.
2) Given that the Celtics can’t trade for Davis this season, which team can provide the best package for the Pelicans?
Levine: The Rockets! Just kidding. The Lakers can, much to my dismay, put together a good package for Davis around Lonzo Ball, Brandon and Kyle Kuzma. I would also expect the Clippers to be aggressive, as they, like the Lakers, have plenty of cap space to resign Davis. They could execute a trade around Tobias Harris. K
Glass: Philadelphia. The team could ship out one of its three stars plus Markelle Fultz and future first-round picks for Davis if they feel that their current core is a little too unstable and that they could retain Davis long-term.
Allen: While there are several teams that could seriously enter the discussion with a compelling trade package (teams like the Knicks with Porzingis, the Warriors if they wanted to break #NBATwitter, etc.), the Lakers are able to put together the most compelling package with young players such as Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Hart and draft assets all available.
Siddiqi:The popular answer here is probably the Lakers. Regardless of how you feel about Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans could surely do worse than a package centered around Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and some lightly-protected draft compensation (multiple picks). Additionally, a trade to the Lakers would be one of the few options that would provide the Pelicans with even a smidge of leverage – given AD’s Klutch representation, it’s highly likely that he would re-sign in Los Angeles.
One under-the-radar scenario that I’m interested in is a deal centered around Bradley Beal. At age 25 and with two years left on a pretty reasonable contract for a player of his stature, Beal is one of the most attractive young players in the league, and he may actually be available if the right trade presents itself. I could see a package of Beal, Otto Porter, and draft picks acting as a starting point. My gut says that this won’t happen – the Wizards probably say no here as AD’s camp won’t give a strong indication that he’ll re-sign. But if I’m the Pelicans, Beal is who I’m targeting (at least until the summer).
3) If the Lakers are somehow able to pull of a trade for Davis this season, where would they rank in the West?
Levine: I would rank them somewhere in the top 4, though I don’t think they will end up there given the amount of losses they’ve accumulated with Lebron’s absence. Right now I see them as finishing somewhere sixth through eighth. With Davis, they could end up 4th or 5th. They will obviously play better than their seeding though in the playoffs.
Glass: If LeBron and Davis are healthy in April, they’re the 2nd-best team in the West heading into the playoffs.
Allen: The Lakers’ season and future will be defined by how much they give up for Anthony Davis. The Pelicans’ biggest issue is their lack of depth and how top heavy their roster is. If the Lakers give up too much, Anthony Davis could eventually end up in a similar situation. However, if the Lakers give up only Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, the Lakers could easily be top four in the west in terms of talent. On the other hand, if the Pelicans are also able to land Kuzma and future draft assets, the future could be very, very bright down in New Orleans if they start to make some better offseason moves.
Siddiqi: In the playoffs, but not by much. The Lakers have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, and even a combo as potent as LeBron and AD would need some time to figure things out. When a team send outs multiple key contributors and brings in a player with the profile of Davis, things rarely click right away. Midseason superstar trades aren’t common, but they have happened. Judging by the track record of some recent moves (Boogie to NO, Butler to Philly), it’s safe to assume that the Lakers won’t improve by leaps and bounds overnight, though next season would be a different story.
4) Your prediction: Does Davis get traded at the deadline and if so, to which team?
Levine: The Pelicans are in no rush to trade Davis, but, much like the Butler dilemma, once a player announces his intentions to leave a team, that team’s leverage decreases over time. The difference here is that it seems as though the Pelicans’ season is a wash at this point, so the organization probably doesn’t care as much about the happiness of Davis or overall team chemistry. They only care about the best deal they can get. However, the issue isn’t going to go away, and, in a packed West, every team is looking to get a leg up this year. I would expect him to be traded to the Lakers by the deadline since they are currently out of the playoff picture, which I’m sure Lebron is not happy about.
Glass: My prediction is that Davis gets traded at the deadline to a team that isn’t currently on the radar. Like Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving before him, Davis’s unhappiness in his current situation finally bubbling over so publicly is usually a sign that something has to give, and soon.
Allen: My prediction: Anthony Davis will get traded to the Lakers during the summer for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and a first round draft pick.
Siddiqi: I think the Pelicans drag this out until the summer. Not only does it give them more options, the team has stated publicly that they do not feel pressured to get this deal done by the deadline. And this is the right move – the Pelicans should not make a deal until they are at a point of maximum leverage, and that can’t happen until Boston has a say as to where AD goes. Ultimately, I think the Celtics try to make up for a disappointing playoff run by constructing a package around Tatum and Brown in exchange for Davis.