January 29, 2019, 6:12 pm
Anthony Davis. The story of the league right now. The story of the sports world despite it being Super Bowl week. The fact that his decision to not re-sign with New Orleans in the summer of 2020 is the story in sports, even with the Super Bowl happening before the trade deadline, shows how good of a player he is. The rest of the league? Well. There’s not a ton going on. We’ve got seven games today. Some good. Some not so good. The tanking teams are in tank mode, the non-Warriors Western teams are still fighting for a playoff spot. There’s not a ton to update. So, let’s get a little weird with some trades. We’ll still take a brief look at each team playing today, but then dive into what each team’s trade offer for Anthony Davis should be, and if there are any other trades they should explore. It’s trading szn.
Note: All trades are legal, per tradenba.com
Washington Wizards @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Time For A Change In Washington
The Wizards have gone full Wizards this season. Does anyone remember Dwight Howard is still on the team? They started out the season hating each other again, even with Marcin Gortat on the other side of the country, and never recovered. They’re 10th in the Eastern Conference in both standings and in schedule-adjusted plus-minus. John Wall is hurt again. There are rumors surrounding trades again. It seems like a standard Wizards season, just with a way worse record. There’s still time left in the season, but as of right now, it doesn’t appear that they will get into the playoffs on sheer talent alone. It’s time for things to get shaken up. Bradley Beal is excelling without Wall once again, and if they want to keep him around that’s understandable. Everyone else, though? They should be looking to make moves.
For the time being, they play the Cavaliers. It’s one of two meetings they have left in the season with the Cavs, in what should be two easy wins. In fact, the Wizards have the fifth-easiest remaining schedule by combined opponent winning percentage. So, there’s an argument to be made that they should look to add a minor piece, or stay put with what they have, and try to make the playoffs. While it’s not what I would do, I understand that case. The teams they’re chasing are Miami and Charlotte, who have the fifth and seventh-hardest schedules remaining, respectively. So, maybe they do just see if they can accidentally make the playoffs. But, they have assets that can fetch them a decent return and should at least explore what they can get.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Tomas Satoransky and Wizards 2019 and 2021 First-Round Picks
Wizards Receive: Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Wesley Johnson, E’Twaun Moore
Other Trade Routes To Explore: While the Wizards won’t actually be a player in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, Beal, Porter, Sato and two picks is not horrible if the team wants to stay competitive right now. The trades they should be exploring are for Porter alone, while trying to get off of Ian Mahinmi’s contract. Multiple teams, the one I had in mind are the Jazz, would love to bring in Porter as another young, 3-and-D player that could use a change of scenery. It would be hard for team’s to match Porter and Mahinmi’s contracts together, but there are some larger expiring contracts that could help get it done.
Jazz Receive: Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi, Jordan McRae
Wizards Receive: Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, Thabo Sefolosha, Epke Udoh, Jazz 2019 First-Round Pick
Out-Tanked By The Bulls
The Cavs finally won a game! But it was against the Bulls. Cleveland snapped their six-game losing streak, but it was against the team that they should have tried their hardest to lose to. Everyone knows the Cavs and Bulls are tanking, we don’t need to keep it under wraps. So it was crucial for the Cavs to lose that game, and in Cavs fashion, they won a close one. It was almost an entertaining game that was close the whole way. What’s most important for Cleveland is the future, which is why they need to lose games.
The 2019 draft is looking to be one of the weaker drafts in recent history, and may end up as a “one-man draft.” It looks a lot like the 2016 draft where the number one pick was all but decided (Ben Simmons then, Zion Williamson now) and everything after it was a little up in the air. Brandon Ingram did seem like the likely choice at two, while it seems that Williamson’s teammate R.J. Barrett is looking like the favorite to go second overall. Past that, it’s a crap shoot. Mock drafts all over the internet have different things, there are even some that don’t have Williamson going one. Nonetheless, it is nowhere near as stacked as the last two drafts were, which makes even that more important to fall inside the bottom three teams.
In terms of the trade market right now, the Cavaliers said they won’t be looking to trade Kevin Love, which is a mistake in my mind. They don’t really have many trade assets, or young assets for that matter. Love is best suited for a team that is competing now, and we all know the Cavs aren’t doing that.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, David Nwaba, Cavs First-Round Picks in 2020, 2022, 2024, Bucks First-Round Pick in 2021
Cavaliers Receive: Anthony Davis, Ian Clark, Tim Frazier, Cheick Diallo
I doubt even this is enough. They can’t trade their 2019 pick because of the Stepien Rule – they traded their 2018 pick – unless they get the Pelicans’ first-round pick back. They’re not in the Davis running, as we all know.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Trading Kevin Love is the obvious one to me. Yes, he’s the best player on the team and maybe they don’t want to tank, but they are. He’s a good, veteran player with championship experience and fits in the modern NBA. He would be of great value to the right team – cough, cough Houston – but it doesn’t look like Cleveland will deal him. Other than that, find if someone will give you anything for any of Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood or Alec Burks.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Detroit Pistons
Beast Of The East
The Bucks are first in the East right now. They slowly but surely snuck past Toronto and currently hold the best record and scheduled-adjusted plus-minus in the NBA. What’s one big reason for it? Eric Bledsoe’s attitude. Bledsoe has refocused himself this season and it has really shown. He was upset with how things ended last year and it was obvious that he wasn’t putting in the effort or care into the game that he needed to in order to be great. This year, especially as of late, has been different. He’s turned back into the great perimeter defender he was once highly touted to be, and has been much better about shot selection on offense.
On a different note, the Bucks need to closely watch what the Pelicans end up doing with Anthony Davis. They Bucks are a small-market team with a superstar that may want out at some point, and how that situation is handled can change the course of a franchise. The difference in Milwaukee, however, is obvious. The Bucks are a much better, much more competitive team than the Pelicans. Davis wanted out because he wants to go to a respected franchise with a winning culture that can compete for championships. While that isn’t exactly the mark of the Bucks, it happens to be right now. They’re one of the best teams in the league right now, but this summer can change that.
Bledose, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez are all set to become free agents after this season. Middleton will turn down his $16 million player option, Bledsoe and Lopez are unrestricted free agents and Brogdon will be restricted. Milwaukee will also have over $35 million committed to George Hill, Tony Snell and Ersan Ilyasova. There is a world where they could keep all of their free agents, but it could be difficult. If the team isn’t the same next season, does Giannis end up going the route that Anthony Davis just went? It’s a definite possibility and the Bucks can go to school on how a team in that position handles it.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, Bucks First-Round Picks in 2023 and 2025, Nuggets Second-Round Pick in 2019, Wizards Second-Round Pick in 2020
Bucks Receive: Anthony Davis, Ian Clark, Tim Frazier, Cheick Diallo
While the Bucks won’t become players in the Davis sweepstakes, I like the trade for both sides. Davis and Giannis are almost locked into staying in Milwaukee so there’s not much risk for the Bucks. The only problem is Middleton’s free agency. He could end up leaving the Pelicans which would hurt their end. The Bucks are also hamstrung with picks they can trade as they’ve already sent out their 2019 and 2021 picks, meaning their first available first-round pick to be traded is 2023. If Middleton had one more year on his deal, then this trade makes sense for both sides. But because of all of the pending free agents the Bucks have, along with their scarcity of picks, it would make the deal hard to finalize.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: I personally think the Bucks should stick with what they have. Davis is the only star that’s worth splurging for, and adding Eric Bledsoe into the deal would probably be worth it – though he is also a pending free agent. They have a solid lineup top-to-bottom that works perfectly together under Mike Budenholzer. The main trades they should focus on are finding a home for Thon Maker, while seeing if they can get out of the Tony Snell or George Hill contracts to possibly give them room this summer.
Stuck In The Mud
Oh boy, what to do with the Pistons. They gave up Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley and a pick in last year’s draft to get Blake Griffin, but can’t do anything with him. He’s having a well deserved all-star season, but the team just is not good. This video from Rob Perez encapsulates what the Pistons are going through right now. Griffin knows how a winning team is supposed to act and play, and the Pistons are not that. They’ve missed on almost all of their draft picks. Signed horrible contracts that are still getting paid. Can’t make transactions due to those contracts. And can’t even make the playoffs in the East. What are they to do?
They’re paying Reggie Jackson, Langston Gallaway, Jon Leuer and Josh Smith almost $40 million combined. Yes, that Josh Smith. J-Smoove. He’s getting paid over $5 million from the Pistons this year and next year. We’re still waiting for Stanley Johnson’s breakout to happen. Luke Kennard has had a few good games recently and maybe isn’t a full bust. But, Bruce Brown is their starting shooting guard right now. A second-round pick from this past year is starting over the wings they drafted highly over the past few seasons. If they were in the playoffs and at least had something to show, it would be a different story. But, they are outside the top eight in the East and have no flexibility to do anything about it. Just keep riding Blake and hope that Reggie Jackson figures something out, I guess.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer: Oh boy.
Pelicans Receive: Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Bruce Brown, Pistons First-Round Picks in 2019, 2021 and 2023.
Pistons Receive: Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Trevon Bluiett
This is a trade that neither team will make. Davis wouldn’t stay in Detroit, so why would Detroit gut all of its picks? I doubt it’s even enough for New Orleans. Getting off the Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore contracts help, but, there’s a lot better out there.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: There’s not much the Pistons can do with their cap situation. If I’m them, I’d probably go out and find some second-draft players. Meaning, lottery picks that might not have worked out for other teams, but are still very young and have upside, although it’s gone down since the draft. This would include players like Thon Maker, Markelle Fultz or Dennis Smith Jr. They have two prime examples of second-draft players on their team in Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard. Maybe a change of scenery is all these players need to start hitting their potential. We saw the Knicks do this with Emmanuel Mudiay and Mario Hezonja. We saw the Nets do this to a degree with D’Angelo Russell. Finding some players like this, where their own teams are low on them, is the type of play Detroit needs to make to find some upside.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Orlando Magic
It’s Paul George’s World And We’re Just Living In It
Paul George has continued his incredible run of late. He continues to make big time plays for the Thunder, and they have continued to win. There’s a case to be made for Paul George to be in the same spot as Giannis Antetokounmpo in the MVP race. Giannis’ team is a little bit better, while PG also has Russell Westbrook on his team, but George has done it all at an elite level. And Westbrook has had a very down season, relative to prior seasons. Giannis also has very good teammates and arguably the coach of the year, which is another reason his team is performing so well. There are hairs to split that could put George right up there with Giannis, although none of it matters because of what James Harden is doing.
The Thunder are in a good spot right now. They don’t need to rush to make a move. They have multiple star players, solid role players to fit the current NBA, and a team that is performing up to expectations. Their shooting guard spot is a position of concern, and Andre Roberson’s health has been an unfortunate turn for the team. Though, putting on the GM hat for the Thunder, this is not the year for them to start giving up assets to go for it all. Next season, or this offseason, is when they should be looking to plug up their nooks and crannies. Wait until the Warriors are possibly broken up, and other teams have a legitimate chance at the title. The Thunder have a strong team right now, but riding out what they have is just fine. They don’t have a screaming need. A buyout market shooting guard would be a good addition this season, but they’ve already made incredible strides from last season.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Paul George, Terrance Ferguson, Thunder 2024 First-Round Pick, Thunder 2019 and 2020 Second-Round picks
Thunder Receive: Anthony Davis, Ian Clark
Other Trade Routes To Explore: I’m not looking to trade if I’m the Thunder. The buy-out market is one I’d be waiting to pounce for, but there’s no glaring needs. It’s a really strong team right now.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
The Magic are in a tough spot. Nikola Vucevic is having a career year, but the team is bad and Vuc is a free agent this season. They could offer him a large contract and lock him up, but that would mean hindering the development of Mo Bamba. They could trade him and monetize as much of his value as possible. Or they could ride out the season, and lose him for nothing in return. It’s a hard decision because of how good he has been this season. It could be that Vucevic turned a corner, or maybe he’s motivated to get paid. But overall, the Magic still aren’t good. They don’t have a point guard. Their wings are nothing special. Bamba has come along very slowly as a rookie. They’re not even really in the playoff race in the East right now.
All of that combined is what is screaming “trade Vucevic,” at least to me. There are multiple teams that he would fit well with, and the Magic could use extra pieces to build a better team for the future. Trading Vucevic also would mean Bamba would get a lot of time to develop, but the team would also be worse and they would improve their odds at a top draft pick. It’s unfortunate, but I think Vucevic has to be traded. The Magic have been too bad for too long, and can’t let opportunities to get more assets just go by the wayside because they like a player that doesn’t fit their future plans.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac, Magic 2019, 2021 and 2023 First-Round Picks
Magic Receive: Anthony Davis, Wesley Johnson, Trevon Bluiett
Other Trade Routes To Explore: A young point guard. If I’m the Magic, I’m calling around to any team with a point guard they might be willing to part with. Whether it’s Dennis Smith Jr., Kris Dunn, Markelle Fultz. A second-draft point guard that could help turn around the position for this team would be ideal.
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets
Jim Boylen Is The Coach Of The Year
You’ve heard me bitch and moan about the Bulls in the past, and you won’t ever hear me stop. Anthony Davis wants to get traded. He wants a good franchise, prefers a bigger market, oh, and he’s from Chicago. Put it all together and what do you get? Anthony Davis doesn’t want to play for the Bulls. The Knicks? Yea, there’s definite interest in the Knicks by Davis. But his home town, that’s almost as big of a market, with a team in about the same place? No. That’s what Gar Forman and John Paxson have built in Chicago.
The fact that Davis doesn’t want to come home but is fine going to the Knicks is a fireable offense for both Forman and Paxson. And the Bulls are one of the few teams with enough assets to possibly get a deal for Davis done. What they’ve done to this franchise is honestly embarrassing. They’ve turned Chicago into a small market, making bad move after bad move with seemingly no reason behind it.
Jim Boylen, the latest bad move by GarPax, should be a legitimate coach of the year candidate. That’s how bad he is. He’s doing exactly what the Bulls need right now. They need to be awful, and he’s delivering. I’m done with this damn team.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Jabari Parker, Bulls 2019 First-Round Pick
Bulls Receive: Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Frank Jackson
Maybe Lauri, Wendell and this year’s first is enough, maybe they toss in another pick or small asset, but the Bulls could definitely make a deal happen if Davis wanted to come home.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Please just trade Robin Lopez for something. It should have happened last year, it should happen this year and I don’t think it is going to happen. Maybe it’s just a second-round pick, but he’s a rim defender that is one of the best bigs in the league at boxing out. Every team can use a rim defender, but you only gotta find one team to make a trade.
D’Angelo Russell Is Finally Coming
While the Nets lost Spencer Dinwiddie for the near future, D’Angelo Russell has finally turned a corner. He’s not quite all the way there, but his improvement this season has been remarkable. The Nets are sitting pretty at sixth in the east, and might be able to make some noise in the playoffs. There is a good chance they draw Boston or Philadelphia in round one of the playoffs, and it will be a great test for the young team. They should also be getting Caris LeVert back in time where he should be full go by the time the playoffs start.
They’ve got a lot of good young pieces right now, and kind of made their team from nothing. They just kept throwing things at the wall and kept what stuck. They got Spencer Dinwiddie after the geniuses from Chicago cut him for Michael-Carter Williams. That’s the difference between good teams and bad teams. The Nets made positive expected-value moves time and time again and are now in a much better spot than they should have been, given the situation Boston put them in years ago.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll
Nets Receive: Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Tim Frazier, Ian Clark
I actually think the Nets should go for a Davis trade. They’ve had interest from other stars that will become free agents, Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving most notably, and getting one would probably let Davis stay. They’ve got the talent to get Davis without getting rid of every single draft pick they own.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: I’m not sure if the Nets have any other trades in store for them. Checking in on some other stars like Bradley Beal is something that could benefit them. But they will get their “trade” for this season when Caris LeVert comes back, and if he’s healthy, I wouldn’t want my first round playoff matchup to be against them if I’m one of the top teams in the east.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Houston Rockets
Trust The Jah-cess
Anthony Davis wants out, but that’s perfectly fine, because Jahlil Okafor is here to save the day. Okafor has been very productive in the time that Davis has been out, and while it’s all been a very old-school, back-to-the-basket game, it’s been good. The Pelicans might actually have something in Okafor. No, the way he’s playing right now isn’t great for the modern NBA, but the fact that he was able to turn his life, and therefore his career, around is very encouraging and something everyone should be rooting for. If he can continue to work on his athleticism and start to add a jump shot to his game, he could be a solid center for years to come. It’s obviously been an extremely small sample, but to see someone whose life was affected by so much off the court be able to get to a point where he is right now is something I’m willing to bet on.
The Pelicans can’t offer themselves Anthony Davis, no matter how much they want to. So, instead let’s look at their options. The two main suitors are Boston and Los Angeles, but Boston cannot trade right now. Since they already traded for and have Kyrie Irving, there is a rule in the CBA that won’t allow them to trade for Davis until Irving becomes a free agent. What does that mean for New Orleans? It means don’t trade Davis right now. You want to maximize your return for him. Boston has one of the best young players in basketball right now, and could have some more draft picks to offer. Plus, having Boston in the mix would make other teams have to offer more to beat an offer that includes Jayson Tatum.
Waiting also allows for the Pelicans to know how the lottery shakes out, which is vital. The Knicks are very much in play, but the first pick in the draft is really what is keeping them in play. The Pelicans are going to trade arguably the best asset in basketball right now. Anthony Davis is a generational talent that is still only 25 years old. Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely the only asset with more value. This could be a trade for the history books, and New Orleans needs to maximize their return.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Start seeing what’s out there for Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday. The Pelicans likely want to stay competitive so they probably won’t trade Holiday, but Holiday stayed because of Davis, so he might want out himself. Mirotic and Randle are likely rental players that should be able to fetch them some sort of young asset.
James Harden continues to do unspeakable things as he just dropped his eighth game of 40-plus points in this month alone. Chris Paul was back and he still did it. Paul didn’t play a full complement of minutes, but what Harden is doing is historic, we all know it. What the rest of the Rockets have been doing has also been impressive and shouldn’t go unnoticed. Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried have played legitimately good basketball for Houston since being picked up and have helped to turn the season around. P.J. Tucker has been going out and playing almost all of his minutes at center since Clint Capela went down, and is noticeably gassed. These other role players still deserve a lot of credit, even in the midst of Harden having a historic season.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer: This is where peak trade szn hits – three way trades.
Pelicans Receive: Markelle Fultz, Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, Rockets First-Round Pick in 2019, 2021, 2023, 2025, Sixers First-Round Pick in 2019, 2021
Sixers Receive: Anthony Davis
Rockets Receive: Jimmy Butler, Cheick Diallo, Trevon Bluiett
Well, well, well, if that’s not a hypothetical trade in the end of January I don’t know what is. The Rockets were willing to give up all four of those draft picks for Butler earlier in the season, and the last one likely has some protections on it. The Sixers would swap Butler, and Fultz and picks, out for Davis, who would be a longer-term asset and better value for the money, while the Pelicans turn to full tank mode. They could ship out Mirotic, Randle and possibly Holiday for more assets and just start drafting. They’d pick up six first-round draft picks in this trade alone, plus a new start for Fultz, who could turn into something if he was handed the keys. It’d be a crazy trade that probably doesn’t happen, but a three-way trade between these teams is likely being thrown around, at the very least.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Any stars that are available. I think Marc Gasol would fit in well with the Rockets and could play with Clint Capela, but also allow for both players to stay fresh and play by themselves. Jimmy Butler is certainly not untouchable from the Sixers even though they got him just a few months ago. If no stars are available, then it’s probably the buyout market. They’ve already done well with two free agent pickups, and I’m sure Daryl Morey is already getting a good idea of who will be bought out.
Phoenix Suns @ San Antonio Spurs
Don’t Fly Too Close To The Sun, Tank-arus
The Suns were looking like a competent team for awhile there, or, at least, not a tanking team. But, as Phoenix does, they are right back in the mix for a top-three lottery slot. They’ve lost eight straight games, six of which have been by double-digit points. They dealt with some injuries to Deandre Ayton and their best center, Richaun Holmes, which certainly helped the tanking. Dragan Bender got another shot at starting, which, was honestly just a good throwback. They’ve gotten nothing out of their rookie point guards, though not much should have been expected in the first place. De’Anthony Melton and Elie Okobo were two of my favorite second-round prospects in last year’s draft, but throwing them into the fire right away won’t yield good results. Mikal Bridges’ defense for a rookie is extremely promising, and he’s come along just fine. The Suns are in a decent spot with their young talent, but one more high draft pick and some development time is what they need.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender and Suns 2019 First-Round Pick
Suns Receive: Anthony Davis, Ian Clark, Trevon Bluiett and Kenrich Williams
Other Trade Routes To Explore: The Suns have so many young players that there isn’t much to trade. T.J. Warren is the obvious candidate to trade to a competitive team that needs another wing. His contract is fairly team-friendly, but given the length, it adds some risk. Portland is one team that could use a wing given Maurice Harkless’ health and Evan Turner’s inability to be effective without the ball in his hands. Another is Charlotte. And this is a weird trade that doesn’t involve Warren, but rather Richaun Holmes. If they can find a good value for a Holmes trade, they should take it, as they’re building around Ayton.
Hornets Receive: Ryan Anderson, Richaun Holmes
Wizards Receive: Nicolas Batum, Hornets First-Round Pick 2019 , Cavaliers Second-Round Pick 2020
The Anderson for Batum swap gives the Hornets one fewer year of being stuck to a bad contract, and the Holmes pickup adds both a good young player, and someone that will help them make the playoffs this year. For the Suns, they get a pick in the teens this year, and then a very high second-round pick next year, given that it’s from Cleveland. Holmes has been great for them, but if Ayton doesn’t pan out to be a better overall player, they won’t be hitting their upside as a team anyways, so moving on from Holmes for extra picks is a fine move. Adding the extra year of a bad contract to their books in return for better value in draft picks is fine, as they should be ready to sign bigger name free agents when Batum’s contract is up.
No DeRozan, No Problem
The Spurs are just doing Spurs things. They didn’t have DeMar DeRozan for their past two games and were just fine, winning a back-to-back set over the weekend. They’re currently tied for sixth in the west, and look like they should be in the playoffs. They’ve got the Clippers, Lakers and Kings breathing down their necks, but of all those teams, the Spurs are just as good of bet to sustain the success they’ve had so far. The only thing that could shake up their season would be Anthony Davis going to the Lakers, but there is still one more spot in the playoffs as a buffer even if the Lakers jump them. They’ve got the coaching and experience that other teams in the West don’t have, which is why I’m confident in them hanging on for one of the eight playoff spots.
The Spurs don’t really trade. The last trade they made prior to the Kawhi Leonard deal was in the summer of 2016. They gave away Boris Diaw and a 2022 second-round pick for the rights to a foreign player and a trade exception slot. Their last in-season trade? February of 2014. They traded Austin Daye for Nando De Colo. Blockbuster. But, of course, let’s see what they would theoretically have to give up to get Anthony Davis, because that’s what trade szn is all about.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Lonnie Walker and Spurs First Round Picks in 2019 and 2021
Wizards Receive: Anthony Davis, Cheick Diallo, Ian Clark and Frank Jackson
The uncertainty behind Murray’s ACL tear makes him an interesting trade chip. Swapping Bryn Forbes for Derrick White came to mind, but is that too much, still not enough? It’s hard to tell with the mix of DeRozan and young players/picks. Those are not assets on the same timeline, making the Spurs an odd fit for a trade.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Find the draft rights to some foreign player no one has ever heard of and give up some cash to get them.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers
Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid Return
Both Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid are expected to return for this game, and boy do the Sixers need it. The Nuggets took it to the shorthanded Sixers, beating them 126-110 while Nikola Jokic could do whatever he wanted in that game. The Sixers are also in the middle of a grueling stretch. They’re at the Lakers tonight, then are at the Warriors, at the Kings, vs. the Raptors, vs. the Nuggets, vs. the Lakers and vs. the Celtics. While LeBron James is not expected back for tonight’s game, he’ll almost certainly be back for the next matchup here. The Kings, who are no slouch, are the worst team on the schedule, outside of the LeBron-less Lakers, but the Sixers will be on their fourth straight road game against one of the fastest paced teams in the league. It’s truly a brutal schedule for Philly right now.
Philly has already made one trade for a star this season, but they will certainly be in the mix for Anthony Davis. They’re nowhere near one of the favorites to land him, but they have interesting trade chips that could allow for a trade to happen. And, they could use a trade or two – whether for a star or just more depth pieces. They’re currently fourth in the East by record and fifth by schedule-adjust plus-minus and are slated to play the Celtics in round one of playoffs. Victor Oladipo’s injury definitely shakes things up, but there is a chance that the Sixers get a very tough round one matchup, which they would obviously like to avoid. They’ve also shown their lack of depth at times throughout the season, which will show up in the playoffs. Rotations usually shrink to eight or nine players during the postseason, but it’s the six, seven and eight that Philly needs. There are some pieces out there, but there are also some big names out there that could make other Eastern Conference teams scared of them.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer: I have two trades in mind for Philly. One of which is a 3-way trade with the Rockets, which is above. This is the offer if it was just a Sixers and Pelicans trade.
Pelicans Receive: Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala
Wizards Receive: Anthony Davis, Darius Miller, Cheick Diallo, Frank Jackson
This is one of the more intriguing trades for the Pelicans I could think of, given the Celtics can’t make an offer right now. Simmons is the best young player that would be offered to the Pelicans. He would help them stay competitive now, still have a star for the fans to root for and would fit in great with the fast-paced game the Pelicans play. He also pairs well with Jrue Holiday, who admittedly is not much of a facilitator. They also get a first-round pick in the form of Zhaire Smith, who was a raw, but very high-upside prospect.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: If the Sixers won’t be dealing for Davis, I think they should stay on the phone and talk about Nikola Mirotic. The Sixers have missed the shooting that Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova provided them last season, and Mirotic could bring an extreme version of that. We’ve seen him step up in clutch situations and not be afraid of any shot. He allows has the size to allow Simmons to stay at point or let Philly play small-ball with Simmons and himself out there while Embiid and Butler rest.
Pelicans Receive: Markelle Fultz, Mike Muscala, Kings 2019 Second-Round Pick
Wizards Receive: Nikola Mirotic
If the Sixers were forced to give up a first-round pick of their own, I wouldn’t be surprised. But, Mirotic is a free agent this summer, so the Pelicans cannot have too high of an asking price for him. Fultz would be a great, high-upside, play for them as they try to turn around their franchise after Davis is gone.
Anytime Now, LeBron
Well, LeBron, whenever you want to come back would be great. The Lakers could really use him right now. They are 6-10 since the Christmas day game against the Warriors in which James got hurt and are no longer in the current playoff picture. While this season was not the one where they’re built to compete for anything, it is still vital for the young players to get playoff experience. And without LeBron, they’re probably not making the playoffs. They have the third-hardest remaining schedule while Utah, San Antonio, Sacramento and their cross-town rivals are all in the top half of easiest remaining schedules. Even if LeBron only misses a few more games, they’re not a lock to make the playoffs. But I’m not betting against LeBron.
But none of it is important. No, LeBron is not the most important person for the Lakers right now. Who is? Dell Demps, the Pelicans general manager. Anthony Davis is a must for the Lakers right now. You give everything. If you have a chance to trade for Anthony Davis and do not have to give up your best player, go do it. He’s Anthony Davis. He’s young, he’s elite, what else is there to say. The Lakers’ young core isn’t panning out to what it was supposed to be, at least so far. While Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are fine players, the former two were supposed to be stars for them. And while our expectations of rookies coming into the league are systematically too high, they still have not showed the type of growth that the Lakers wanted to see. If the Pelicans ask for all three and a pick, go for it.
In my opinion, none of them matter if you have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and cap room. Davis would certainly re-sign with the team long term, making the value of future draft picks lower. You would get him rather than another team. It’s not like other trades where if you can’t get it done then the team keeps the player — Davis is going somewhere. So it’s not only that you add him, it’s that other teams won’t add him. There were reports that Klay Thompson would have interest in the Lakers if Davis and LeBron were there. And, most importantly, the Celtics can’t make an offer right now. If Ben Simmons isn’t being offered up by the Sixers, the Celtics have the best young player that’s being offered up, and if you can make the trade right now, before the Celtics can do anything, you have to do it.
Anthony Davis Trade Offer:
Pelicans Receive: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, Lakers 2019 First-Round Pick
Lakers Receive: Anthony Davis, Ian Clark, Tim Frazier, Frank Jackson
There will be a lot of pressure by the Pelicans to do this trade now, and if I am them, I’m waiting until the summer so the best possible offer is on the table. This is what I’d demand from the Lakers and if I can give them E’Twaun Moore’s or Solomon Hill’s contract as well, I’m dumping those.
Other Trade Routes To Explore: Davis is the trade. You have to force your hand to make the Pelicans accept the deal and move on from the Anthony Davis era right now. Whether they do so or not isn’t in your control, but try to control it as much as possible. Outside of Davis, I’m calling about Bradley Beal. It’s unlikely for the Wizards to trade him, but it’s possible. I’d still save my trade chips for Davis though. Getting rid of a young asset now that would have secured Davis in the summer would be a brutal move.