The Los Angeles Lakers are going to do everything in their power to land New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis either this season or over the summer. But it’s growing increasingly clear that the Lakers may not have the pieces to entice the Pelicans.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst spoke about that fact on the The Sedano Show:
“For Davis, a top-five arguable player who is going to be desired in many different markets, the Lakers just don’t have the assets. … It’s just not enough for the Pelicans. They just don’t like what the Lakers have to offer. And that is not lost on Davis. That is why it’s pretty clear his camp is waging a battle to make Boston not even bid so the Lakers have a chance. Because it’s as clear as day that Boston can outbid the Lakers. They just don’t have the assets.”
Windhorst pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily an indictment on L.A.’s young players, like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, and that a package of those players would be enough to land many players around the NBA. But for a game-changer like Davis, the Lakers’ packages remaining unappealing to New Orleans.
The Pelicans can also take their time, since Davis is under contract through next season, leaving them with all of the leverage for the time being.
“The Pelicans have no motivation to hurry; this season is lost anyway. They have no motivation to necessarily trade around the draft if they can’t get the player they want. … Talking to sources in New Orleans, they don’t feel any pressure to move quickly.”
The Lakers and Celtics have been the two teams most widely linked to a trade for Davis, and it isn’t hard to imagine the New York Knicks making an offer this summer, especially if they land the top overall pick. They could dangle the pick and Kevin Knox in a package for Anthony and then use their two max slots to bring in superstars to play alongside him.
The Philadelphia 76ers are also a team that can’t be ignored, if only because a young star like Ben Simmons would almost assuredly be attractive to New Orleans, though it’s hard to imagine the Sixers dealing their 22-year-old All-Star.
But Windhorst noted that two other “mystery teams” could jump into the fray: The Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets. The Raptors could build a deal around talented young players like Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby and gun for a title this season with Kawhi Leonard and Davis. Obviously they would be risking everything in that trade, as Leonard could leave in free agency this summer and Davis could follow suit next year.
But Leonard and Davis could also enjoy playing together in Toronto and choose to stay long term.
Denver, meanwhile, could build a package around players like rookie Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray or Gary Harris potentially, as Windhorst noted, pairing Davis with offensive superstar Nikola Jokic.
Windhorst noted that he hadn’t heard that either team had called the Pelicans with an offer, but he said he’d be very surprised if they didn’t at least inquire.
When you add it all up, at least five teams—the Celtics, Knicks, Sixers, Raptors and Nuggets—could offer better deals than the Lakers. The Lakers may be pushing all of their chips into the center of the table when it comes to Davis, but they are doing so without the best hand.