What exactly might Anthony Davis trade packages look like for the Celtics and Lakers? Here’s a haphazard guess at how the teams might construct their offers:
WHAT THEY MAY OFFER: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, future picks
The Lakers give up a collection of young talent at a variety of positions then add Caldwell-Pope to match the salaries. The Pelicans could send back Davis and a collection of end-of-the-roster guys to generate the necessary roster spaces to absorb five incoming players.
HERE'S WHY THE PACKAGE MIGHT NOT BE ATTRACTIVE TO NEW ORLEANS: Any picks they’d receive from Los Angeles immediately become late first-round selections at best with the Lakers set up for immediate success with a LeBron/AD combo.
While Ball (2nd pick, 2017), Ingram (2nd pick, 2016), and Kuzma (27th pick, 2017) have obvious talent, none are what you would describe as surefire future franchise players. Kuzma is shooting 30.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc this season and is averaging 15.5 shots overall to get to 19.1 points per game. The Lakers have a negative net rating with Ball on the court (minus-0.4) and it jumps into the positive when he’s on the bench. Ingram has high upside, particularly at age 21, but other teams will have more attractive centerpieces to their deals.
Who exactly are the Pelicans building their future around? What draft picks are they using to further infuse young talent? It’s hard to see how the Lakers deal puts them on a surefire path to being relevant again, particularly while dealing with an angry fan base that watched a generational star complain his way out of town.
WHO WINS SUPERSTAR TRADES?
The Celtics, if willing to dangle their best parts, have the ability to really make the Pelicans think.
WHAT THEY MAY OFFER: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, future Memphis pick, salary filler
I can hear Celtics fans screaming at the computer screens that it’s too much. I almost included the player drafted with the Kings pick here as well.
Sorry, you gotta pay to play. Even with the uncertainty about Davis’ future with an ability to opt out of his deal after next year, you’re not getting a discount on a bonafide top 5 NBA player.
You can bet that Danny Ainge will fight hard to retain as many prime assets as possible, whether that’s trying to hold onto that Memphis pick if you give up two young stars, or trying to keep Brown out of the deal if Tatum and picks is enough to get the conversation percolating. But in the quest to build up enough salary and talent to make the deal a reality, it’s probably going to cost a ransom.
Some will suggest getting Terry Rozier in here as part of a sign-and-trade. That’s a more agreeable idea than, say, putting Marcus Smart in the deal, but it comes with a bunch of obstacles, including getting Rozier on board with playing in New Orleans and at a price the Pelicans are willing to stomach. The Celtics could try to get Aron Baynes to sign off on being in the deal but that’s asking a lot of a player who's taken multiple discounts to be with the Celtics the past two seasons. You could try to include Al Horford, assuming he’d opt into the final year of his deal, but would likely require a third team that would redirect young assets to the Pelicans so that Horford could still be with a contender.
Ultimately, making Tatum the centerpiece might be better than most teams can do and the Celtics could negotiate from there based on what else the Pelicans would need to make it a reality. A Memphis rebuild adds value to the future Grizzlies pick and might help the Celtics hang on to other assets as part of a deal.
Remember, the Celtics had to give up a lot to get Kevin Garnett. They had to move what we perceived as a boatload to land Kyrie Irving. Sometimes it’s hard in the moment to part with talent, particularly those players that we project out as future stars. There is no projection with Davis. He’s a known superstar. Sometimes you just have to pay the ransom if you know it’s going to take your team to another level.
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