Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans and, as such, there is now a mad scramble 10 days before the deadline from teams to try and land the superstar big man.
Davis’ agent Rich Paul made it clear Davis wants to be on a contender and that he and Davis don’t believe New Orleans is that place. Since Davis went to Klutch Sports a year ago, there has been rampant speculation that he would push his way out of New Orleans and, likely, try to make his way to Los Angeles to play with Paul’s top client LeBron James.
The Lakers reportedly have interest in Davis and are the favorites to land him, just ahead of the Celtics. The question is what will the Lakers be willing to give up from their young core to get Davis and whether that is enough value in the eyes of the Pelicans for their star. According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, a Davis deal will have to start with a trio of young pieces and a first round pick, headlined by Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.
As Tania Ganguli noted, L.A. has been insistent that they will not move Lonzo at the deadline, but they also didn’t expect Davis to be available at the deadline.
There’s no doubt the Lakers would like to keep Lonzo around to work in with Davis and James, but if we’ve learned anything from the Paul George situation it’s that, if you have the opportunity to go get the superstar that has indicated he might want to play for you long-term, you should probably go do it. Kuzma’s value may never be higher than it is now and his inclusion, if the Pelicans want him, shouldn’t even require a second thought — the same goes with Zubac.
It still seems as though that package floated by Turner would need more added to it to be worth it for New Orleans, who still have plenty of leverage to wait out a deal. Davis is under contract through the 2019-20 season when his player option will be denied that summer and he would be an unrestricted free agent. It’s clear Davis wants out sooner than later, but if the Pelicans can’t get the offer they want over the next 10 days, they can very easily just keep Davis through the season and fire up trade talks over the summer to try and get more value.
It’d be fairly stunning for them to let it drag into next season, because then their leverage begins to wane the closer they get to next year’s deadline, but there will be pressure on the Lakers to put their best package on the table — something they reportedly wouldn’t do this summer in various trade talks for stars to complement LeBron.