Anthony Davis Trade Request + His Fit With All 30 Teams
January 28, 2019 was the day the NBA has been waiting for, the day we all saw coming, the day that would officially mark the beginning of trade season. Anthony Davis, the superstar big-man from the New Orleans Pelicans, officially requested to be traded from the organization by proclaiming that he would not sign an extension with the team.
The writing has been on the wall for a while now for Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Prior to the season, Davis signed with Klutch Sports Group after parting ways with his previous agent. Klutch Sports Group is the agency that represents LeBron James and various other stars in the NBA, which led to a lot of speculation that Davis could be plotting a move to get out of New Orleans and to a bigger market.
The expression “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” is often true in professional sports, but the NBA is the league where the expression rings true more often than it doesn’t. We saw it this year with Jimmy Butler, last year with Kawhi Leonard, and the year before with Paul George. The new reality surrounding Anthony Davis isn’t really new, it was in front of us the entire time. When Davis signed with Klutch Sports it wasn’t to make sure he got every dollar possible on his next contract, it was to help him navigate an exit from his current team.
This is a case of Occam’s Razor: often times the most simple answer is the correct one.
Now that Anthony Davis has officially made his desire to be traded public, it’s important to break down what exactly he is as an asset. So, what is he? He’s a gamebreaker. He’s an MVP candidate about to enter the prime of his career. He’s the perfect big-man for today’s NBA.
In his career, he has averaged 24 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1.4 steals. He shoots 51.6% from the floor, 31.2% from three, and 79.7% from the charity stripe. He’s a five-time All Star, and a three-time block champ. He’s made three All-NBA teams and he’s made three all-defensive teams. He’s dealt with some smaller injuries throughout his career, but he played 75 games in each of the last two seasons.
The only real knock against Davis, besides his health (and those concerns are a little overblown), is the fact that he’s in his seventh NBA season and has only won one playoff series. Not all of that is Anthony Davis’ fault, as his teams haven't always been the best in terms of talent or health, but part of the blame definitely belongs on the shoulders of Davis. While he is surrounded by some solid players, and has been paired with great players at times (DeMarcus Cousins, Jrue Holiday), his teams never seem to reach their full potential, and this year is a perfect example of that. His current team is 23-28, and the 12th seed in the Western Conference.
With a move to a new team, especially if that new team is a contender, he can completely re-write the already-existing narratives in his career.
So, who are the big players in this upcoming sweepstakes? The timing of Davis’ trade request slightly narrows the group of teams that can make the deal, but it still leaves most of the league in a position to do whatever they can to land the prized asset. The timing of the request almost makes it seem like it was done to give the best chance to the Los Angeles Lakers, because the team that is widely-considered to have the best trade pieces is the Boston Celtics, who can’t add Davis until July without sending away Kyrie Irving.
This is because of the Rose Rule. A team cannot have two players on their team that have a contract from the Rose Rule if both those players are acquired via trade. Kyrie Irving had a Rose Rule contract and was acquired in a trade from the Cavaliers last year, so the Celtics can’t get Anthony Davis until Kyrie Irving signs a new contract this summer (if he does stay in Boston).
There’s no rush for the Pelicans though, they don’t need to make a trade at the deadline like most LeBron and Laker fans would lead you to believe. He is under contract through next season as well, sof if the Pelicans truly want the best package, they will wait until the summer for the Boston Celtics to get involved.
The New Orleans Pelicans released a statement saying that they will do this all on their timeline and do what is best for the organization, but that wasn’t all they said. They also said they want the league to investigate into the relationship with Anthony Davis and LeBron James though Klutch Sports, who is run by one of LeBron’s best friends: Rich Paul. So, when push comes to shove, it looks like the Pelicans would rather cut off their own leg then be trapped trading him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony Davis could theoretically try and force his way to Los Angeles by saying that he will only re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the problem there is that he is good enough to take a flyer on a one-year rental to go all-in and compete for a title. The Toronto Raptors took that same gamble on Kawhi Leonard this year, and the Oklahoma City Thunder did the same thing with Paul George. This isn’t going to be a cut-and-dry thing that ends with LeBron and Anthony Davis together in Los Angeles next year, any team could swoop in and land the star as long as they pay enough.
Realistically, you can expect every team to check in with the New Orleans Pelicans about Anthony Davis, so the price tag will be MASSIVE, and justifiably so, if you can land an MVP candidate who is about to enter the prime of his career, you are going to need to pay a lot to get him.
With that being said, what would each team look like with Anthony Davis? Here’s how he would fit with each NBA team and if landing the star makes sense.
Golden State Warriors: They are already stacked, there is no denying that. If the Warriors were able to land Anthony Davis like they have dreamed of doing for so long, that would actually 29 NBA fanbases lose their collective minds and might actually make people stop watching the sport. This would obviously be an excellent fit, but I don’t see it happening, at least not at the trade deadline.
Denver Nuggets: This is a young team that appears to be on the rise with Nikola Jokic paving the way as an MVP candidate. If you can pair two very high-IQ big-men like Jokic and Davis, that is a recipe for some success like they had last year in New Orleans with the Boogie-AD connection. They have some nice young players to deal and potentially keep New Orleans afloat, the Nuggets are a team that can contend right now, and if you add Anthony Davis then you have a realistic shot at an extended Western Conference Finals series with the Golden State Warriors.
Oklahoma City Thunder: This is a very good defensive team, and their big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams appear to have found a groove now that Paul George is the clear-cut best player on the team. If you could swap out Anthony Davis for Steven Adams then you have a much better offensive threat down low that can also stretch the floor and shoot. This is a good fit, but the Thunder don’t have too many tradeable young assets that the Pelicans would consider a good return for Davis.
Portland Trail Blazers: Currently the fourth seed in the West, it appears that the Blazers have really hit their ceiling. They generally are in the thick of things in the Western Conference but they don’t have the star power to compete with the top dogs like the Warriors, Rockets, or Thunder. The thing the Blazers do have though, is CJ McCollum, who has two more years on his contract and is a borderline all-star. If the Blazers could pair Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis, sending away CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic seems like it would be worth it.
Houston Rockets: Daryl Morey and the Rockets have been trying to add to their team all season after falling short in the Western Conference Finals last year. They have a lot of veterans on the roster, but they have shown a willingness to offer at least four future first-round picks for a star, they tried to do that with Jimmy Butler. James Harden is the reigning MVP and if you can pair him with Anthony Davis, then you do whatever it takes. If Morey is feeling particularly ruthless, he could send Chris Paul back to New Orleans with his new contract so they would be guaranteed to have a star for the foreseeable future. If they could send Clint Capela and Chris Paul to the Pelicans then they would have good players for a long time to help fill that void left by Davis. I would do this in a heartbeat if I was Houston.
San Antonio Spurs: This is a weird team. Their bench is better than their starting lineup. Their starting lineup doesn’t shoot threes, but their bench is so good that they make the Spurs the league-leader in FG%. LaMarcus Aldridge is an expiring contract and if they could put him with some of their younger players and some draft picks then I feel like it would be a good return for New Orleans. I mean, if Pop was feeling frisky he could also throw in DeMar DeRozan, who has two more years on his deal, and give the Pelicans another star player. Look, the bottom line for the Spurs is this: if you can get Gregg Popovich another Hall of Fame big man (David Robinson, Tim Duncan), then you will win multiple NBA titles at some point, so if you can get DeRozan and Aldridge in return then this would be an intriguing trade.
Utah Jazz: This team has been hot-and-cold this year and I’m still not totally sure what to make of them at this point, but they already have too many big men than they know what to do with in Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. They do have Donovan Mitchell and some other nice pieces around him, so if you could ship away a big man or two and package that with young players and picks, you might have a great tandem in Donovan Mitchell and Anthony Davis for the next couple years. If Donovan Mitchell really is the second-coming of Dwyane Wade then you need to go get him his Shaquille O’Neal.
Los Angeles Clippers: Hey, you’ve got cap space, you’ve got a bunch of fun role players, and you’ve the city. If Davis is serious about wanting to be in Los Angeles and you think that the brain trust of Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer, and Jerry West can convince him that the Clippers are the team to be with in LA then you’ve gotta go for it.
Los Angeles Lakers: If you can pair LeBron James with another MVP candidate, you have a good shot at winning a ring, it’s as simple as that. The young core of the Lakers are massively overvalued with none of their young players looking like they could be stars in the league. Davis appears to want to be a Laker, but they don’t have the best trade assets and there is also the possibility of the team getting popped for tampering/collusion.
Sacramento Kings: Young assets and exciting players galore. If you seriously think that you can sell Anthony Davis on the future of the franchise alongside De’Aaron Fox, then you should go for it. The Kings could offer future picks, they could offer Marvin Bagley and sell him as the next great big man like Anthony Davis, shit, you could offer to send Buddy Hield back now that he has developed into a bonafide All-Star. I don’t think it’s likely, but this could be a fun situation, you also have to imagine that Davis knows all about Sacramento after spending 1.5 seasons with DeMarcus Cousins.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Maybe all Andrew Wiggins needs is a change of scenery to blossom into a star and be worth his massive contract. They’ve got some nice pieces that could form a solid trade package, but I don’t see them having anything really worthwhile for the Pelicans. Who knows, maybe Anthony Davis never forgot that Karl-Anthony Towns plays in the NBA and never considered playing with him, which could be a really fun combo like the Boogie-AD combo was.
Dallas Mavericks: Spoiler alert here, I have two teams in here that I think would be an amazing fit with Anthony Davis and a deal with them will never happen, but if they did it would be absolutely phenomenal. This is one of those teams. Anthony Davis made it clear that he wants to win and wants to contend, I don’t think there’s a better place in the West to contend for a long time. The Mavericks have Luka Doncic, who is already a bonafide All-Star and looks like he could be the MVP someday...OH, and he’s only 19 years old. If the Mavericks can pair Anthony Davis, a 25-year-old MVP candidate, with Luka Doncic, a 19-year-old future MVP candidate, I think you have a recipe for a dynasty once the Warriors eventually split.
New Orleans Pelicans: Sorry about all of this, New Orleans sports fans have had a rough start to 2019. First you lose in the NFC Championship Game on a controversial call, now you are going to lose your superstar NBA player because LeBron James and Rich Paul have been whispering sweet nothings in his ear. I am sorry, but I don’t necessarily feel too bad because this is tremendous content.
Memphis Grizzlies: This only way this happens is if the Pelicans feel that Mike Conley is good enough to be the face of the post-AD New Orleans Pelicans, which is...unlikely. I see no reason this happens.
Phoenix Suns: Well if you could pair Anthony Davis with Devin Booker then...I’m not sure, maybe you only lose 50 games? Suns need to just keep tanking and praying for Zion Williamson, Anthony Davis wants to win, don’t waste each other's’ time.
Milwaukee Bucks: It’s been reported that the Bucks are expected to make everyone besides Giannis Antetokounmpo available in trade talks for Davis heading into the deadline, and while that might seem crazy, I’m here to tell you that it might be the best thing they can do. If you could pair Giannis and Anthony Davis then you are the Eastern Conference Champions this year and most likely next year. Those are two of the top-4 MVP candidates this season who are both young and getting better with each passing year. If the Pelicans were willing to take on some nice young players who have proven they can be effective in the league in a modern offense (shoutout to Mike Budenholzer) with some draft picks, then this would be a dream pairing for the Bucks.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors are already on a life-or-death, all-or-nothing gamble with Kawhi Leonard. They traded away their franchise centerpiece to land Leonard and he is a free agent after this season, if he leaves they will blow the team up and rebuild, if he stays then they will contend in the East for the next decade. Here’s the thing here: the Raptors should be willing to do whatever it takes to land Davis. They should be willing to give away all their young talent besides Kawhi, they should be willing to package it with draft picks, their left arm, and an inch off their...you get the picture. A move like this could convince Kawhi to stay long-term and in turn convince Davis to do the same and if that happens...you have a dominant super team in the East that will be a perennial title contender.
Indiana Pacers: They just lost their franchise centerpiece, Victor Oladipo, for the rest of the season and they already have two big-men who look like players who you can build around for years to come. If the Pacers could somehow add Davis to that mix and ship off one of their big-men (I would send Myles Turner, not Domantas Sabonis), then they could be a force in the East for years to come. Big-name free agents don’t come to Indiana though, so if you want any chance at a superstar like Davis then you need to trade for him and somehow convince him to stay. It’s a tall task, but if they could pull it off it might be magical.
Philadelphia 76ers: This is an interesting team to think about in terms of trades for Anthony Davis, the Sixers have young players, and one of their most exciting young players is under contract for a while. Yeah, you could theoretically swap Anthony Davis for Joel Embiid, you could swap him for a bunch of veterans with Jimmy Butler and some draft picks, but the most interesting option is sending Ben Simmons to New Orleans. Ben Simmons, another Klutch client, is still on his rookie deal so the Pelicans could have control for a long time while getting a point-guard version of Anthony Davis (albeit one that doesn’t shoot threes, but still). The potential for a Simmons-AD swap is too interesting to ignore, this might be the best trade the Pelicans can get without having the Boston Celtics involved.
Boston Celtics: Can’t get involved until the Summer, but they easily have the best young assets that the Pelicans could want. If the Celtics were willing to send Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier to the Pelicans with some draft picks, then that team will be set up well for a long time. Tatum looks like a young Kobe Bryant, Jaylen Brown’s career was mirroring Paul George and Kawhi Leonard until this season, and Terry Rozier was great in the playoffs last year. The Pelicans have no real reason to trade Davis before the Summer because the Celtics NEED to be involved to create a full-scale bidding war, which gets New Orleans the best return possible. Now, there are rumors that Kyrie is contemplating leaving, but I don’t put much stock into that and all the leaks are pretty peculiar, I think those are coming from LeBron’s camp to try and make Davis not want to wind up in Boston.
Brooklyn Nets: Okay, full disclosure again, this is the other team I am really interested in for Anthony Davis, just like I was before with the Mavericks. Imagine pairing D’Angelo Russell (a bonafide All-Star), Caris LeVert (One of the most exciting young players in the NBA), Spencer Dinwiddie (Perennial 6MOY candidate), and Jarrett Allen (the NBA’s next-great shot blocker), with Anthony Davis. The team looks like they are ready to start making playoff runs and adding a player like Anthony Davis to their arsenal would be phenomenal. The Nets finally have control of their draft picks again and should do whatever it takes to bring Davis to Brooklyn and pair him with your other young talent. This would be incredibly fun and is my dream scenario for Davis (other than him not ever getting traded by the Pelicans and signing with the Warriors for the Minimum in 2020).
Miami Heat: They have some interesting young talent, and some other players who are being paid a lot of money and aren’t very good. Finding a passable trade here is difficult, but the idea of Anthony Davis taking the reins from Dwyane Wade to become the next face of the Miami Heat is a very fun one. Josh Richardson looks like a future All-Star and pairing him with Anthony Davis would be fun, I’m just not sure the Heat have the pieces to pull off this big a trade.
Charlotte Hornets: The only interesting thing about a potential trade that lands Anthony Davis in Charlotte is that it would actually give Kemba Walker some help, but let’s be real here, there’s no way this would happen. The Hornets don’t have pieces good enough to outbid the other suitors or even give a somewhat equal return for the superstar so there’s no real point in trying to make sense of a potential trade here.
Detroit Pistons: A team that is currently fighting for the playoffs and is a bit of a strange team, it’s centered around Blake Griffin, who is having one of the best years of his career, which hasn’t exactly been proven to be a successful model for winning. The Pistons could theoretically try and package Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and some picks to try and acquire Anthony Davis, but they gave up a lot to get Blake Griffin last year and a potential Blake Griffin-Anthony Davis frontcourt doesn’t sound like the best fit.
Washington Wizards: If the Pelicans are looking for a return of somewhat equal value here, the Washington Wizards might be the best place to look. The Wizards have a surplus of players making a surplus of money, and one of those players is deemed to be “untradeable.” That player is John Wall, who has a massive contract which includes a massive trade kicker, so the way I see it, you can go one of two ways here if you want to deal with the Wizards. The first way, you trade Anthony Davis for players like Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr., who desperately need a change of scenery and play significantly better when they aren’t sharing the floor with John Wall. The Wizards and Pelicans could also look at this as a superstar swap, the Pelicans could send Anthony Davis and a bad contract over to the Wizards for John Wall and his bad contract. This would make sure the Pelicans have a star for the long term and it would help fix the disfunction in Washington, seems like a win-win to me.
Orlando Magic: The Magic aren’t a very good team but look like they have some promising young talent, with that being said, the talent that they have isn’t good enough to net them a player like Anthony Davis in a trade. I also just don’t want to see the next iteration of an Orlando Magic big-man going from Orlando to Los Angeles (i.e Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard).
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are bad this year, but they have some incredible young talent headlined by Trae Young, who is starting to look like we thought he would when he was in college. The Hawks are going to have a good draft pick, so if they manage to get the number one pick in the draft they could try to build a package around that for Anthony Davis. Now, me personally, I don’t want the Hawks to make a trade like this, they look like they have the pieces in place to have a good rebuild all on their own without Davis, especially if they land that number one overall pick.
Chicago Bulls: Chicago is Anthony Davis’ hometown, but he doesn’t want to play there. The Bulls are a dysfunctional mess right now, so why waste time and resources with Anthony Davis? Just continue the rebuild and keep getting high draft picks.
New York Knicks: The Knicks are bad this year, they were bad last year, hell, they’ve been bad for a long time, but the allure of New York City never fails to create interest from players. It’s been reported that Davis would consider signing long-term with the Knicks, so if that’s on the table then you’ve gotta try to land him, and not just because he is really good. Here’s why you need Davis, at least in my opinion: do you become a more attractive free agent destination for players like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving if your team is headlined by Anthony Davis or Kristaps Porzingis? If the answer is KP then you should stand pat, but if you think Anthony Davis creates more attraction then you need to go all-out and do whatever it takes to land him. If that means trading Kristaps for him straight-up, you do it. If that means landing the number one pick and creating a package with your young players built around that pick, then you do that. If you can make New York a great free agent destination again, then you do it. Simple as that.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Free agents don’t come to Cleveland, LeBron James had some problems getting players there for that exact reason. The Cavaliers are the worst team in the NBA this year, I don’t think Anthony Davis wants anything to do with that team or that city. Just keep tanking and get yourself RJ Barrett or Zion Williamson.