We have heard the stories recently of LeBron James’ desire to play with New Orleans Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, LeBron described the possibility of teaming up with Davis as “amazing”. Ever since LeBron bolted from Cleveland to join the Lakers in July, the big question has been who will be their second superstar? The Lakers struck out on Paul George this past offseason, and Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard appear to be pipe-dreams. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka can only hoard their cap space for so long before patience runs out.
With Anthony Davis not eligible for free agency until the Summer of 2020, the only path for him to be wearing purple and gold this season would be via trade. Such a deal would be nearly impossible for multiple reasons. While many around the league would not be surprised to see The Brow leave New Orleans, Dell Demps and the Pelicans lack the motivation to make any move involving Davis.
So what exactly would need to happen in order to send Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers?
In order to get the Pelicans in the mindset to consider a trade of any type, they would need to know for a fact that Anthony Davis has no intention of signing a super-max contract. This upcoming Summer, Davis will be eligible to sign the NBA’s enormous $239 million extension designed for superstar talent. The NBA created this option to help persuade big stars to stay in small markets. Nothing would make the Pelicans feel more uneasy than their franchise player turning down the largest contract in team history. If he were to do so, he would be as good as gone.
However, even if Anthony Davis were to turn down the super-max contract extension, the Pelicans could still hold onto him for the rest of the season. With Davis not becoming a free agent this Summer, they could always delay a deal in hopes of changing his mind. New Orleans could look to become buyers near the trade deadline to bring in needed help for Anthony Davis. If Dell Demps could bring in a couple of pieces to help Davis make the playoffs (and make some noise in them), The Brow could consider taking the money and trusting the organization to continue to build a contender.
Another reason the Pelicans have no reason to cut bait now is that their potential trade partners would be more limited. Outside of the Lakers, the Boston Celtics have long been linked to Anthony Davis. The Celtics own four first-round draft picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, as well as young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Due to a strange rule in the collective bargaining agreement, the Celtics would be unable to make such a deal for Anthony Davis until after the season. If New Orleans is looking for the largest haul, they would be fools to make any trade before the Celtics could get into the bidding war.
The only logical way the NBA could see an Anthony Davis trade this season would be for Davis to go full Jimmy Butler and make a public trade demand. Such a demand would need to be very messy, one that could potentially hurt the Pelicans. If Davis were to completely destroy the team locker room and allow his frustrations to carry over into people’s personal lives, Dell Demps may be forced to get what he can for his superstar while he still can.
This whole scenario is nothing more than just a dream for the Lakers. Anthony Davis has shown no urgency to leave New Orleans. He even went as far as praising the city (and it’s food) in an article written by Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Could we see The Brow go West? Possibly. However, don’t expect a major shake-up until after the season, if at all.