It sure sounds like the Anthony Davis saga will finally be over soon. After a reportedly unsuccessful attempt to convince the superstar center to stick with New Orleans for at least one more season, David Griffin has reportedly begun to outline what a trade for Davis would look like to interested parties. Adrian Wojnarowski reports Griffin is asking for an All-Star caliber player, a young guy with All-Star potential, and two first-round draft picks. It’s on a sliding scale, so if a team offers a top-30 player or young prospects with big upside, the draft picks won’t need to be as high, and vice versa.
He’s also open to making it a multi-team deal and would prefer any deal with 2019 draft picks be finished before the draft, which opens up a variety of options for the Pelicans’ new head of basketball operations. To save you all the brainpower, I dug into the NBA Trade Machine to create some realistic scenarios for Davis. Here are four trades we may see go down before the start of next season.
Pelicans receive: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, No. 4 pick, No. 6 pick
Lakers receive: Anthony Davis
Suns receive: Lonzo Ball
This trade scenario leans heavily on Griffin’s opinion of this year’s draft class, but it checks almost all the boxes; the hope would be that the quality of the picks offsets the lack of a current All-Star. New Orleans gets two players with All-Star potential, though, and can use their two draft picks to either make more transactions or add two more guys to build around Zion, essentially giving them a brand-new starting five, should they wish.
The Lakers have a boatload of expiring contracts that will put them under the cap once their contracts expire on June 29, meaning they don’t need to send out equal salary to get Davis, so this does work on the financial side of things. The Lakers have always known that if the Pelicans will do business with them, it’ll take their three best young players. It’s simply the price to pay for getting LeBron James an elite teammate. The Suns, meanwhile, will use their pick to grease the wheels of the transaction, and grab a point guard, a position of need and what they’re reportedly trying to do with the pick.
Pelicans receive: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, No. 14 pick, 2020 Memphis pick
Celtics receive: Anthony Davis
This is a realistic scenario only if the Celtics choose to pursue this path, which is dependent on what Kyrie Irving does. But if they make the call, this is what the trade would look like. The Pelicans get a first-team All-NBA defender in Smart, who improved his 3-point shooting this year, and two guys with All-Star potential in Brown and Tatum. Williams, meanwhile, is an athletic freak of a project who fits into the Pelicans’ time frame.
The Pelicans pick up the last pick in the lottery of a weak draft, but the 2020 Memphis pick is only protected 1-6 next year and completely unprotected the year after; it’s an asset that will only become more valuable in time as the Grizzlies undertake their long-overdue rebuild project. The Celtics fulfill their dream of a superteam at a high cost, but if it creates a championship contender, it’s hard to imagine Danny Ainge, of all people, saying no.
Pelicans receive: Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., No. 3 pick, 2021 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick
Knicks receive: Anthony Davis
The Knicks were one of the teams reported to have already talked to Griffin about a potential trade, and they’re dreaming big for this offseason, so they won’t hold anything back. New York can’t offer the same quality of young talent as the Lakers or Celtics, so they make up for it in draft picks, and get Davis to help lure free agents to Madison Square Garden. Similar to the Lakers, they’ll be under the cap after expiring contracts and renounced rights, so this trade works under the cap, even if they aren’t sending out equal salary.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, take quantity over quality when it comes to draft picks and own the Knicks’ immediate future. Mitchell Robinson showed a lot of potential as a rim-running shot blocker, but needs minutes and time to grow, which New Orleans should have plenty of. Knox showed he can score on occasion, while DSJ is enough of an athletic monster to take a chance on, and can learn from one of the best in Jrue Holiday. They also could potentially pair Zion Williamson with his good buddy from college, R.J. Barrett, and they know how important it is to keep their superstar happy at this point. This isn’t the best trade route for New Orleans, but it could happen if the Celtics pull out of the race and Griffin decides he doesn’t want AD in the same conference or to do the Lakers any favors.
Pelicans receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell, 2020 first-round pick, 2022 first-round pick, 2021 Miami Heat first-round pick
Clippers receive: Anthony Davis
Similar to the Knicks, the Clippers are dreaming big, but would only pull the trigger if they were sure things would go their way. They can clear up at least one max spot to pair with Davis, and would give up their future to do so. The Pelicans, meanwhile, get an exciting young point guard who looks like he’ll be around for a long time in SGA, and a good, high-energy big man in Harrell.
They also nab two future assets for their trouble, and a potential high lottery pick in the 2021 Miami Heat pick. This is likely the worst of the potential trades, but if the market suddenly cools down, multiple assets, an All-Star caliber player in Gallinari, and two young guys isn’t the worst thing to happen. Griffin has done more with less. He’ll get the best trade possible out of Davis, and this kind of return is probably the bare minimum that we can expect.