The next great battle in the storied rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers isn't likely to happen in the NBA Finals. It could happen in the trade market, where Anthony Davis is the latest elite player whose future is in question.
The New Orleans Pelicans superstar center is signed through the 2019-20 season, if he declines his 2020-21 player option. He's eligible for a super-max contract extension next summer, though, and if he refuses to sign such a a deal, the Pelicans would have no choice but to trade him.
The Celtics' interest in Davis has been well-documented for a long time. The Lakers are in the mix now, too. LeBron James is 33 years old and the Lakers are flush with talented young players to dangle in the trade market. The Lakers' window to win is now.
How competitive could a showdown for Davis between the Lakers and Celtics get? Marc Stein of the New York Times provided some insight in his latest newsletter:
The Lakers’ fantasy haul, of course, is twofold. They want to sign an elite free agent from the Kevin Durant/Kawhi Leonard tier next summer with the significant salary-cap space they are on course to possess. But the Lakers also dream of beating out Boston’s well-chronicled treasure trove of trade assets in a pitch for Davis with some combination of L.A.’s own promising starlets: Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers definitely have a lot to offer, and Ingram probably is the best of the bunch. The Celtics have their own impressive collection of talented young players, but where they really stand out above the Lakers is their horde of draft picks. The C's could have as many as four first-round draft picks in 2019. The best of the bunch likely will be the Sacramento Kings' 2019 first rounder. Sure, the Kings are playing well right now, but that pick should be in the lottery when all is settled.
The Lakers are in an interesting spot. If they don't sign an elite free agent next summer, they pretty much have to make an aggressive swing at landing Davis. The problem is the Celtics reportedly have been "hawking" Davis for years and have better trade assets to offer.
Watching it all play out will be fascinating, and the outcome of this Davis pursuit could determine which franchise dominates the 2020s.
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