The Boston Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis comes with a huge asterisk: If they sold the farm to acquire the New Orleans Pelicans big man, would he even stick around past one season?
Davis will enter the final year of his contract in 2019-20, after all, and reportedly prefers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 free agency.
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Danny Ainge can't talk specifics, but the Celtics' president of basketball operations said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" radio show he's certainly open to the idea of trading for a "rental" like Davis.
Yes, but it depends on the situation, It depends on the player, the circumstances and the package you have to trade for him. We’ve had a chance to do it and have done it, and we’ve had a chance to do it and have not done it.
Ainge then provided fitting historical perspective involving his pursuit of Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett during the summer of 2007.
We initially had a trade together and KG said he wouldn’t come to Boston. He said no. So, we pulled the trade offer. Then we traded for Ray Allen and went back to Minnesota and they allowed us to speak to KG, and he said yes.
He also said he would sign an extension and we did the trade. We had another opportunity -- I won’t name the player, but that player wouldn’t commit to re-signing, so we didn’t do the deal.
It’s not about selling the player. They want to be themselves and they want to win. It’s about creating an environment where they can reach their goals. That’s usually how you keep players.
Garnett's and Davis' scenarios are different -- the Allen trade convinced KG to sign an extension as soon as he got to Boston, while Davis likely will wait until 2020 to make up his mind.
But Ainge's point is well-taken: The Celtics' most important goal this summer should be trading for Davis (if he isn't moved before the Feb. 7 deadline), not worrying about the chances he re-signs after a year. Davis' sights may be set on L.A. now, but that could change if his experience in Boston goes well. Just ask Paul George, who spurned L.A. to stick with the Oklahoma City Thunder this past offseason.
Is trading for Davis a gamble given his contract situation? Certainly. But the 2008 NBA champion Celtics are proof that such a gamble can pay off.
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