The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have a trump card in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes: Davis and LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.

But don't sleep on the Boston Celtics, who boast their own ace in the hole.

In a column Monday for Sports Illustrated, NBA insider Chris Mannix suggested Kyrie Irving's close relationship with Davis could provide Boston a "unique backchannel" as it pursues the New Orleans Pelicans big man via trade.

Will (the Celtics) offer (Jayson) Tatum in a Davis package without assurances Davis will re-sign there? No, but Boston has a unique backchannel: Irving. Irving and Davis maintain a close friendship: “Kyrie and Anthony Davis are boys,” former NBA forward and NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine told The Crossover NBA podcast. “I think they text like every day.” Irving would be a powerful recruiter next summer.

Irving and Davis, who went No. 1 overall in the 2011 and 2012 NBA Drafts, respectively, formed a close bond as USA Basketball teammates. Ironically, Irving's presence is preventing the Celtics from acquiring Davis before the NBA's Feb. 7 trade deadline, and the potential of Kyrie leaving in free agency could ruin Boston's chances of landing Davis this summer, too.


But this could go another way: What if the Celtics, who have the best assets to make a deal for Davis, make an offer New Orleans can't refuse this summer? That surely would convince Irving to stick around. And while Davis reportedly prefers to sign with L.A. in free agency after the 2019-20 season, what if he enjoys playing with Irving so much that he decides to stay for the long haul?

That's certainly a plausible scenario according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, who added this nugget Tuesday:

For Davis, the whole appeal of Boston, according to league sources, would be to team up with Irving, one of his closest friends in the league.

Those are a lot of "what ifs," obviously. There are rumors gathering steam that Irving may renege on his promise to Boston and sign with the hometown New York Knicks or reunite with James on the Lakers. According to Mannix, however, the C's are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

What I do know is that the Celtics are confident Irving will be back, and won’t blink at offering a five-year, max-level extension to ensure it. Don’t dismiss the importance of that to a player who has had three knee surgeries in recent years.

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