Celtics

Celtics

If you believe the Los Angeles Lakers have gained the upper hand in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, Danny Ainge would like a word.

Davis officially requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. On its face, that's bad news for the Boston Celtics, who can't trade for Davis until the offseason unless they deal Kyrie Irving and have to hope the Lakers or another team doesn't snatch him from New Orleans before the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline.

But the Celtics still have leverage, as many believe they can offer the Pelicans the strongest trade package for Davis if New Orleans waits until the summer.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the C's plan on using all of that leverage.

Here's what Woj told ESPN's Kevin Negandhi during Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET "SportsCenter:"

Boston wants to play the longer game here. They'll talk with New Orleans soon if they haven't talked here in the last hour or two and let them know, 'We want to be in this when the season is over.'

They can't do the trade now. ... But Boston will let New Orleans know that, 'We are going to be aggressive. We're going to be able to give you everything you want for Anthony Davis. Hold off before the trade deadline.'

 

Did you catch that last part? Everything you want?

Boston's stockpile of draft picks (four potential first-rounders in 2019) all would be on the table in a Davis trade, as would talented players like Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart.

That said, the Celtics' crown jewel is Jayson Tatum, a 20-year-old future All-Star with franchise cornerstone potential. Would they be willing to part with Tatum to land Davis?

Davis and Irving on the same roster would make the Celtics an immediate title contender, even without Tatum. But Davis can enter free agency following the 2019-20 season and reportedly prefers signing a long-term deal in L.A., which means there's a scenario where Boston loses one of the best young players in the league for one season of Davis.

At the very least, however, Wojnarowski suggests Ainge will hint to the Pelicans that Tatum is a possibility. And whether you think Boston should do that deal or not, it's smart business for Ainge to leave that door open as a way to prevent New Orleans from dealing with the Lakers (or any other team) prior to the deadline.

The Pelicans' statement Monday -- they will trade Davis "on our terms and our timeline" -- suggests they'll make the deal that's best for them. If that's truly the case, Ainge has a powerful card to play if he so chooses.

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