New Orleans’ Pelicans superstar, Anthony Davis, is widely regarded as a perennial MVP candidate and top-5 player in the league, averaging an astounding 29.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game so far this season. On Monday morning, news broke that the 25-year-old power forward, for reasons still unknown, requested that he be traded from the Pelicans. Given his superstardom, the request has huge repercussions in the league. Whoever picks him up will, assuming they don’t give up an unreasonable package in return, be made immediately better through the acquisition of Davis.
Seeing as AD has requested a trade, the Pelicans likely will not be able to receive as impressive a package as they would have had they simply made him available through trade of their own accord. With that being said, a player of AD’s calibre will still fetch a rather hefty price, and any teams who want him should be prepared to lose a star of their own in the process.
However, Davis has stated that he will play out the season for New Orleans, so they can bide their time and scope out the best offers from now until the trade deadline, and if nothing appeals to them, they can wait until the offseason.
Taking trade assets and destination into account, I’m going to take a look at the top competitors in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.
Los Angeles Lakers
Odds of landing Anthony Davis come 2019-2020 (per OddsShark): +300
There has been much speculation around a possible AD move to the Lakers in free agency. Now, with his trade request and the Lakers’ struggles that have found them sitting out of a playoff spot, the Lakers have been favourites in trade talks by fans and the media.
The presence of LeBron James could either deter or attract players based on their personalities — players who prefer being ball-dominant and the first option on their team see joining a guy like LeBron as undesirable. The fact that Davis has always been the number-one option on his team could lead to him having to adapt to a new situation when he goes to LA, but that could very well be where he ends up. Although the Lakers would have to trade some of the young guys on their squad who all have serious potential (Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Ivica Zubac) the return would be worth it.
Whether it comes this season or next, AD and LeBron would be a fearsome duo, and would likely catapult the Lakers from the 7-10 range in the West to top-three in the conference.
Odds of landing Anthony Davis come 2019-2020
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The Raptors don’t necessarily need AD. They have Kawhi Leonard, a superstar on the same tier as Davis, and a much more reliable group of role players supporting him than LeBron does in LA. However, if they want to win a chip with just Kawhi and this group (who have been struggling as of late) they would probably struggle to come out of the East, let alone beat the full-strength Warriors in a seven-game series.
Like the Lakers, the Raptors have their own wealth of young talent that would hurt their future to lose, but that they would part with instantly if it meant landing AD. To make up a package that would be capable of persuading the Pelicans’ front office that the contents of the package are worthy of moving AD, the Raptors would likely have to include fan favourite Pascal Siakam, stretchy young forward OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, and one of their young point guards, along with a first-round draft pick.
Losing those guys would definitely hurt, but the move comes with a sliver lining: acquiring Davis could very well convince Kawhi to re-sign.
Just like in Los Angeles with LeBron, the duo that the Raptors would have in Kawhi and AD would be monstrous, and would exponentially increase their chances of winning a title.
Odds of landing Anthony Davis come 2019-2020 (per OddsShark): +150
The Celtics are currently the favourites to land Davis, according to OddsShark. They have a number of trade assets, including Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier. In fact, the only players on Boston’s roster that I can’t see them trading in order to get Davis would be second-year forward Jayson Tatum and star point guard Kyrie Irving.
Key Celtics Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Marcus Morris could all be on the chopping block along with Brown and Rozier if trading them means acquiring a legitimate MVP candidate.
Since Hayward hasn’t provided the spark that the Celtics expected him to when they signed him in free agency last offseason (he did miss all of last season after suffering a gruesome injury that required surgery) the team hasn’t succeeded like so many thought they would. Trading for Davis would instantly make them the best team in the East.
Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Anthony Davis would be a scary, scary big three, rivalling that of 2011 Miami’s (LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh).
While it’s most likely that he’s traded to one of the three teams listed above, the Knicks, 76ers, and Warriors are all listed as other possible destinations. Regardless of where Davis goes, the team who picks him up will be made instantly better by his presence. It could be before or at the February trade deadline, or it could be this summer, but one thing is clear: Anthony Davis will not be in New Orleans come November.