Celtics

Rich Paul's comments on Anthony Davis shouldn't scare off Celtics

Rich Paul's comments on Anthony Davis shouldn't scare off Celtics

Despite Rich Paul’s latest public proclamation that Anthony Davis does not see a long-term future in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge ought not be deterred from his quest to land the superstar talent if he deems that's Boston’s best path to immediate title contention.

In a recently published Sports Illustrated story, Paul, referencing himself in the third person, says, “Don’t blame Rich Paul,” if the Celtics sacrifice assets this summer only to watch Davis walk away in free agency in the summer of 2020.

“[The Celtics] can trade for [Davis], but it’ll be for one year,” cautions Paul. 

Yes, Paul’s comments add another layer of intrigue to the high-stakes game of chicken that the super agent is playing while acutely aware that Boston has long coveted his client. It would be easier to heed Paul’s warnings if he didn’t have the obvious conflict of interest in being LeBron James’ agent (and pal).

Paul’s declaration, which might have come as early as March based on the timeline offered in Sports Illustrated’s story, leaves some Celtics fans wondering if it’s safer to embrace the idea of building around the team’s current young core, and simply move on from both Davis and Irving if they don’t desire to be here.

All of which us leaves us replaying one of Ainge’s more notable quotes from his recent press gathering.

"There's always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risk.”

If acquiring Davis is Boston’s best chance of retaining Irving, then the team has to consider it. That superstar duo, combined with a returning core that would likely still include Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, and at least one of Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart, would position the Celtics as legitimate contenders in a league that could look very different next season. Yes, last year showed that it’s dangerous to make any assumptions about team potential but let’s remember that Davis was maybe the best player in basketball two seasons ago and would have three former All-Stars around him in Boston. That team should be pretty good if not overwhelmed (again) by the expectations that would exist.

Yes, there is obvious risk in mortgaging young talent and prime draft picks for a flight risk. There is even more risk if the only way to retain Irving is to sign him to a 1-and-1 deal that would essentially allow him to return to free agency in the summer of 2020, setting up a scenario in which Davis, Irving, and maybe even Kevin Durant, depending on how his situation plays out in the aftermath of his Achilles injury, hit the open market at the same time.

Celtics fans worry that the cupboards would be bare if Boston traded prime assets, including Jayson Tatum, for Davis, and then watched both Irving and Davis bail after next season. Remember, though, that the Celtics would still have paths to remain competitive in that scenario.

The Celtics’ books for the 2020-21 season are currently quite clean. Right now, Marcus Smart is the only guaranteed contract at $13.4 million. Hayward owns a $34.2 million player option while the Celtics are currently scheduled to have team options on Guerschon Yabusele ($4.8 million), Robert Williams ($2 million), and Semi Ojeleye ($1.8 million). Jaylen Brown, if not previously extended or traded, would have a $8.6 million qualifying offer while wading into restricted free agency.

Even if Davis and Irving both elected to move on, Boston could consider everything from sign-and-trade avenues to recoup proven talent to simply renouncing the rights to all of their potential free agents and examining the bountiful cap room they might have to work with. It’s not inconceivable that Boston could open enough cap space to pursue a new star duo to complement whatever young talent remains (making it important that Boston maintain at least some of its draft assets in the pursuit of Davis).

Is it a riskier path? Undoubtedly. But there is no guarantee with the alternative. The Celtics can build around a young core of Tatum and Brown but would need both to makes strides and have Hayward revert to All-Star form in order to have legitimate title potential next season. Remember, too, that Boston is going to have to pay Brown a hefty salary as early as the summer of 2020, limiting the team’s options to put talent around that young core further down the road.

It comes down to risk management. Heck, the Celtics could mortgage their future to make a Davis deal before draft night and not even know if it would guarantee Irving’s return (Ainge said last week that he’s uncertain if there are moves that would increase Irving’s desire to return). No Irving would make it even tougher to sell Davis on staying long-term, though certainly Paul’s hard-line stance could soften once Davis is actually here. Plus, the league is in such flux this summer, it’s hard to know exactly the situations that could attract players a year from now.

Which is why we keep coming back to what Ainge said.

"There's always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risk.”

The Celtics have long had their eyes on Davis. Maybe there’s a point at which the risk simply isn’t worth the pursuit. But an agent with an agenda probably isn’t the tipping point.

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Anthony Davis gives interesting answer to question on his Lakers future

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USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis gives interesting answer to question on his Lakers future

Newly acquired Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis may well end up playing for the Purple and Gold a long time, but so far he hasn't been willing to publicly proclaim he will re-sign with the historic franchise when NBA free agency 2020 rolls around.

Davis was asked during his introductory press conference last Saturday about being ready to commit to the Lakers long term, and his answer was interesting.

"I'm focused on this season," Davis told reporters, via the Washington Post's Ben Golliver. "When I got traded here, my goal was to bring a championship here with the team that we have. When that time comes around next year, you can ask me that question and we can revisit it. Right now, my focus is on this year and figuring out how I can help this team and help this organization become a championhip team."

Davis basically took the opposite approach Kyrie Irving did last fall. Irving famously told Boston Celtics season ticket holders before the 2018-19 season that he planned to re-sign with the team. Maybe Irving really meant it at the time, but after a disappointing season for the Celtics highlighted by the superstar point guard's leadership struggles, he bolted for the Brooklyn Nets in free agency earlier this month.

Davis has a $28,751,775 million player option for the 2020-21 season, and it's hard to envision him, or any player, exercising that option when a long-term max contract almost certainly would be available.

The list of the top free agents in the summer of 2020 goes downhill really quick. Davis clearly is the best player who could be available. The gap between him and the second-best player, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, is enormous. If Davis ever made it known he was open to considering other teams in free agency, the list of interested suitors likely would be a lenghty one. After all, he's arguably a top-five player in the league and will be just 27 years old next summer.

It wouldn't be surprising if Davis eventually re-signs with the Lakers, but there's absolutely no reason for him to commit, especially publicly, to L.A. before playing any games alongside LeBron James.

Click here for a list of the best NBA free agents in 2020>>>

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Grant Williams has message for Celtics fans after 'incredible' NBA Summer League experience

Grant Williams has message for Celtics fans after 'incredible' NBA Summer League experience

Grant Williams' Celtics career is just getting started, but he's already saying all the right things.

In a video posted by the NBA Draft Twitter account, the C's rookie delivered a brief message to fans positively reflecting on his first NBA Summer League experience.

Watch below:

"Honestly, my first Summer League experience was incredible,” Williams said. “I was honored to represent the Boston Celtics franchise and to learn a lot of great things from a lot of talented people. I got to enjoy my teammates and make lifelong relationships. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I’m excited for the season, let’s go Celtics.”

Williams, who was drafted out of Tennessee with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, impressed in his five Summer League appearances. The 20-year-old forward averaged 13 points, six rebounds and 1.8 assists in 24.2 minutes per game.

If Williams' play in his rookie year is as encouraging as his attitude, he'll be well on his way to becoming a fan favorite in Boston.

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