Anthony Davis is in a waiting pattern on his contract terms with the Los Angeles Lakers, which could be connected to the supermax decision Giannis Antetokounmpo is weighing with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have been “operating under the belief” that Antetokounmpo will sign a supermax extension, but nothing has been agreed upon. “I think there are two star players waiting to sign to see what Giannis does,” said Brian Windhorst on ESPN Radio. “That’s Anthony Davis. He’s coming back to the Lakers, but he may change the alteration of his contract, the way it’s structured, to give the Lakers a window, if not for Giannis but for somebody in a one-plus-one. Because that’s what LeBron is now on.
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But the biggest order of business is to get Davis signed. Contracts can be signed starting at 9:01 a.m. PST Sunday. According to people not authorized to speak publicly, Davis and Paul, who’s also his representative, informed Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manger Rob Pelinka that Davis wanted to see how the team would be put together before deciding the length of his contract.
Marc Stein: Various teams project these players to land max contracts after free agency begins tonight in 3+ hours: *Pelicans restricted free agent Brandon Ingram *Max extensions for Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell from the draft class of 2017 *The Lakers’ Anthony Davis
While All-NBA forward Anthony Davis is on course to eventually agree on a new deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, no formal commitment is expected to come in the immediate days following the start of free agency Friday, sources told ESPN. Klutch Sports CEO and Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, will be in contact with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka after 6 p.m. Friday, sources said, but Davis plans to wait minimally through Thanksgiving as he considers his options on the length and structure of maximum contract deals.
Davis, 27, has several possible scenarios on new deal with the Lakers, including a three-year, $106 million deal that would include a player option on the 2022-23 season — a structure that would align Davis with the end of LeBron James’ deal. Davis could do a two-year deal, $68 million deal with an option after next year — or longer deals for four years ($146.7M) and five years ($189M).
Yahoo Sports: “I think a lot of guys were surprised.” On the latest Posted Up with @ChrisBHaynes, @AntDavis23 talked about the season starting in December, the Lakers not having a championship parade, free agency, and more.
The consensus among NBA league executives is that Davis will return to the Lakers after opting out of a deal that would have paid him $28.7 million.
Chris Haynes: Free agent superstar @AntDavis23 joins @YahooSports ’ “Posted Up with C. Haynes.” In Part 1, he breaks down Lakers’ acquisition of Dennis Schroder and clarifies his current standing. “I don’t have a team, Chris.”
The Lakers, sources said, will present several options to Davis and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, in order to work with the superstar on the deal that makes him feel the most comfortable being part of the franchise moving forward. One factor that Davis surely will measure when considering his options is the contract status of LeBron James, who is under contract for 2020-21 and has a player option for 2021-22.
Bobby Marks: Re: AD opting out. 2020/21 contract will go from $28.75M ⬆️ $32.7M Options will include w/LAL 💰1+1 with a player option for 2021/22 💸2+1 with a player option for 2022/23 He will have 10 years of service in 2022 and can sign for 35% of the cap (comparable to a super max)
Brad Turner: Can confirm that Anthony Davis will decline his player option with Lakers for $28.7 million to become a free agent. Still is strongly believed that AD will re-sign with Lakers after winning his first NBA title with team last month.
Chris Haynes: Yahoo Sources: Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis is officially declining his $28.7 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bobby Marks: Monday deadline for player options Anthony Davis: $28.8M DeMar DeRozan: $27.7M Mike Conley Jr. : $34.5M Evan Fournier: $17.0M Robin Lopez : $5.0M Nic Batum: $27.1M Tony Snell: $12.2M Stanley Johnson: $3.8M Wesley Matthews : $2.7M My guess is we go 7/9 on opt-in
Tim Reynolds: Correcting this: Most NBA player/team option decisions have to be made Thursday by 5pm ET, source tells AP. A notable exception: Anthony Davis, whose deadline appears to be tomorrow.
“It has to be the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. And it’s more about getting their house in order,” Marks said on SportsCenter when asked what teams will be the most active in NBA free agency. “What I mean is you’ve the contract of Anthony Davis to work out. You’ve three free agents with players options particularly Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo. And I think what the Lakers are going to have to do is make a decision between players like Rondo and Markieff Morris versus going out and using their mid-level exception.”
Most NBA executives, who are not authorized to speak publicly on Davis’ situation, believe the seven-time All-Star forward’s best course is to opt out and sign a two-year deal with the Lakers that includes a player option for the second season.
Davis plans to opt out of his $28.7 million player option and re-sign with the Lakers, sources tell The Athletic. Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, will hold meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the situation and the contract term that is most sensible for Davis.
Among the expected deal possibilities for Davis this offseason (projected numbers based on salary cap of $109,140,000): • Two years, $68,103,360: One-plus-one, player option in year two. • Three years, $106,084,080: Two-plus-one, player option in year three. This deal would bring Davis to 10 years of service before 2022 free agency and thus make him eligible for the 35 percent max contract. Using a $125 million cap projection in 2022, Davis’ max deal would be worth $253.75 million over five years, or $196 million over four years. • Four years, $146,684,160: Three-plus-one, player option in year four. Using a potential $131.25 million cap in 2023, Davis would be in line for a $266.4 million max over five years or $205.8 million over four years.
Bobby Marks: On the future of Anthony Davis with the Los Angeles Lakers. pic.twitter.com/Grm1ZpOFxV
Davis could receive $32.7 million next season if the salary cap stays at $109.1 million, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Mark Medina: Anthony Davis on how he might handle his potential free agency: “I have no idea.” AD then adds, “I had a great time in LA this year. It’s been nothing but joy and amazement. Over the next couple of months, we’ll figure it out. I’m not 100% sure.”
Harrison Faigen: AD doesn’t want to talk about free agency. “I have no idea.”
The Lakers, however, still likely will have no issues in re-signing star Anthony Davis, as their local television deal brings them around $200 million annually, sources said. Added with their national television share, the Lakers could bring in more than $300 million if they don’t sell a single ticket.
While teammate JaVale McGee caught his free-agent-to-be teammate shouting “Purple ‘til the day I die” in his latest video blog post, it was shared slightly out of context in a purple-vs.-white scrimmage in Saturday’s practice. Anthony Davis has been far less revealing on his long-term plans in purple and gold, though many around the league speculate he will re-sign with the Lakers to continue playing with LeBron James and fulfill the franchise’s vision of becoming a long-term foundational star. Asked about a brewing negotiation that has slid back on the league’s timeline to Oct. 18, Davis remained tight-lipped and claimed he hadn’t thought about it at all.
Shams Charania: New player option dates for 2020 NBA free agency: Anthony Davis: Oct. 14 Gordon Hayward: Oct. 17 DeMar DeRozan: Oct. 17 Mike Conley Jr.: Oct. 17 Andre Drummond: Oct. 17
“The reason the supermax was put into the NBA was for this exact reason — to offer superstars so much money they don’t want to leave. It’s had mixed success. The problem however is we don’t know what the salary cap is going to look like next year,” Windhorst said. “And even if the Bucks went 16-0 through the playoffs, if the salary cap collapses, it may not make economic sense for Giannis to extend. And this could also even apply to Lakers and Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis could be smiling from ear-to-ear, so happy to be in LA. But it may not behoove him to sign a long-term contract this summer. The results on the floor obviously matter, but the negotiations with the CBA and what happens with the salary cap may matter more about whether these guys resign this summer.”
If all players are forced to opt in, that means Anthony Davis returns to the Lakers for another season and will be eligible for free agency in 2021. That’s a good thing for the Knicks as Davis likely will be more amenable to moving on as LeBron James turns 37. “I think we will go 29-for-29 on player options picked up,’’ Marks told The Post.
By any measure, this is the top priority of the summer given what the Lakers had to give up to get him. Most in league circles believe that work is largely done – that L.A. is where Davis wanted to be, LeBron James is the teammate he wanted to have, and that the Lakers have done enough to sell him on a future with the franchise. Again last week, Pelinka mentioned Davis and James in a “partnership” with the front office, and since last July, Pelinka has reportedly sought Davis’ opinion in important decisions.
Davis is eligible for free agency after this season. He reportedly turned down a $146 million, four-year contract extension last month, but the move was expected since he is eligible for a more lucrative deal with the Lakers with a longer term if he waits until free agency. If Davis knows what he is going to do, he is keeping his cards close to his vest for now. “I have no idea about free agency right now,” he told the AP. “I’m worried about this season and what I can do to focus on helping the Lakers win this year and then when that time comes, then come do an interview with me then, we’ll figure it out.”
When it comes to his seemingly effortless transition to life with the Los Angeles Lakers, Davis makes it sound as if it’s no big deal. After all, smooth is what he does. “(It’s been) very natural. I think team chemistry is very good,” Davis told The Associated Press ahead of a special All-Star Game for the 6-foot-10 forward. “We’ve been able to do some major things in the first half of the year, and it’s only going to get better.”
Nate Duncan: MIA looking at $26m in room with Iguodala extension. But could move Olynyk or stretch him (and possibly Chris Silva or Okpala) and get enough for Anthony Davis. If things go awry in LA, he’s got another credible suitor this summer.
Like Leonard last July, Davis lines up his next player option with the opportunity to secure a 35 percent max contract via a 2+1. The 1+1 would merit stronger consideration if the Lakers were less competitive or more volatile but they have a strong foundation and Davis should know by June 2022 what James’ future holds. That said, all but maybe the 3+1 have strong, cogent rationales and a star player with different priorities would be totally justified choosing them.
If Davis does a “one-and-one” to return to Los Angeles, it would put him back on the marketplace in 2021 when the Knicks should have max space. “I’ve heard that idea floating around, keeping him shorter term, because of LeBron’s age,’’ one agent said.
Some inside the Lakers anticipate Davis might pass on a five-year contract in favor of a three-year deal with a player option in the third year, similar to the contract Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers last summer. That would allow Davis to hit free agency in 2022, when he would be just 29, and still in his prime, and James would be 37 going on 38.
The decision was made out of salary-cap implications and because Davis wants to solely focus on this season, sources said. Davis holds a $28.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season that he is expected to decline in order to hit the open market, sources said.
Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, delivered the news to Lakers’ the front office after the team’s shootaround in preparation for Tuesday night’s game against the New York Knicks, sources said. No one within league circles anticipates Davis leaving the Lakers after one season.
ShowtimeForum: “He [AD] is not going anywhere. The expectation is that he is where he wants to be and he is happy. There is almost no one in the NBA that thinks he’s not going to re-sign with the Lakers.” (via @Brian Windhorst on @SportsCenter) pic.twitter.com/lkMZa26oQm
Davis, a Chicago native in town for a game against the Bulls, was asked at a charity event for his alma mater Perspectives Charter School: “If you get a chance to come home and play for the Bulls, would you do it?” Davis replied, per ESPN: “Honestly, it’s nothing like playing at home. I don’t know. … I mean, I am a free agent next year, but we’ll see. It’s a possibility.” Davis’ answer seemed to center on his affection for the city, which he considers the “Mecca of basketball.”
“We pretend to care about the season for about 10 days and then all anybody really cares about is what’s coming. And we don’t have that this year. We just don’t have it. “Nobody believes Anthony Davis is not staying with the Lakers.”
Anthony Davis is the biggest free agent for 2020 and he’s widely expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. “I knew this coming into the season and I can’t remember the last season where we’re just going to talk about all these storylines,” said Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod. “Like you might talk about that Heat team for a week or two and then we’re just back to free agency. You might talk about Minnesota’s interesting start, but then we’re back to free agency.
Davis, who averaged 25.9 points, 12 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals in 56 games with the Pelicans last season and who this observer deems the best co-star James has ever had, has a player option for next season worth $28.7 million. And every time he’s asked to discuss his long-term future with the Lakers, his answer remains unchanged. “I just want to focus on this year,” he’ll say (or something close to it). As one person close to him said when asked to explain how people should see the Lakers’ chances of retaining Davis here, “Just don’t f*** it up.”
So far, the Lakers seemingly have everything Davis would want. And why not? After all, his representatives publicly requested the New Orleans Pelicans to trade Davis leading into last season’s trade deadline. So there is no way Davis would want to leave the Lakers after he becomes a free agent next summer, right? “I just want to focus on this year,” Davis said at the Lakers’ media day on Friday. “Coming here, the Lakers definitely welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like this was home. But at the same time, it’s about what we can do this year. We have a special team, special unit, special coaching staff and we’re going to do whatever we can to focus on this year and try to come out victorious.”
Mark Medina: Anthony Davis on what Lakers have done to make him want to stay long term: “I just want to focus on this year. Coming here, the Lakers definitely welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like this is home. But at the same time, it’s about what we can do this year.”
The 2020 free-agent pool is short on stars, but they could be one of the favorites for big fish Anthony Davis if the Lakers implode. Rich Paul, Davis’ agent, likes the idea of his client in New York, according to a source.
You’re only signed through this season. Do you think you will be a pillar of the Lakers for years and years to come? Anthony Davis: Honestly, Rachel, I’m just focused on this season. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have one year here, so I’m going make the best of this year. And when that time comes around in the summer or, you know, whenever the season’s over — hopefully, around, you know, mid-June, after we just had a parade, and I need a couple days to think — then we can talk about that. But until then, I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team win this year.
The ’20 class is not nearly as star-studded as this summer, but there are a handful of intriguing names. The unrestricted list is led by Davis, who league sources say has vowed to explore free agency with the Knicks and the Lakers as his top two teams. The restricted free-agent scroll includes several young talents with franchises that could face a burdensome tax bill to retain them: Toronto’s 2019 Most Improved Player Pascal Siakam, Boston’s Jaylen Brown, the Nets’ Caris LaVert and the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis.
Boston? Davis’s father told ESPN in February that he wouldn’t want his son playing for the Celtics, and Paul confirms that he has warned off Boston management. “They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul says. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”
“Where he’s going to land? I have no idea,” Paul says. “And it don’t matter. We’re going into free agency. Why does it matter to me where he goes? Earth: We’re going into free agency. He has a year, he has to play. But after that, I can’t say it no bigger: WE ARE GOING INTO FREE AGENCY. 2020: ANTHONY DAVIS WILL BE IN FREE AGENCY.”
Anthony Davis would certainly consider re-signing with the Knicks if he felt he could be successful in New York, per SNY sources familiar with the matter. And here’s how a Davis to New York trade could work: Since the goal would likely be to pair Davis with two other stars, the Knicks would first sign their two max free agents in early July, using nearly all of their $70-plus million in cap space. They would then have to send out roughly $21.6 million in salary to satisfy NBA trade rules in a swap for Davis, who is making $27 million in 2019.
There are different ways to get to $21.6 million, but the easiest way to get there is to include their 2019 first-round pick. (The No. 1 pick can earn $9.7 in his first season.) It’s worth noting, however, that there is no consensus among the Knicks as to whether they would include the 2019 No. 1 pick in a deal for Davis or any other star.
In theory, keeping Irving as a happy Celtic would make Boston a more attractive long-term home for Davis. Several league front office executives I spoke with wondered: Would Irving sign a two-year contract with a player option for the second season to align his free agency with Davis’s? Irving might be prickly with the media and even those within the organization, but he is popular with fans, and players around the league like him. Irving has influence.
Davis, who can become a free agent in 2020, said the uncertainty in the aftermath of his trade demand has been challenging. “It is tough because you just don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I have one year left on contract, so I’m not sure what they’re gonna do. Obviously, I stated my intentions. But I did that this year and they [said], ‘No, we’re going to keep you here.’ So for me, it’s just not knowing what’s going to happen.”
Even if Davis has shown the Celtics no love so far, Boston has the right hand to push in its chips. The front office has some confidence that the Lakers, with LeBron James already at age 34, won’t want to punt cap space until the summer of 2020, when Davis will hit free agency, league sources have said. A trade could be the Lakers’ only realistic chance of acquiring Davis.
Three NBA team executives told USA TODAY Sports they are operating under the premise that the Los Angeles Lakers are Anthony Davis’ preferred destination and that any other team that acquires him from New Orleans will be getting a short-term rental until Davis can become a free agent in 2020.
During the process, one source said, the Celtics even consulted with their current players to gauge their thoughts about teaming up with Davis. Davis’s friendship with Kyrie Irving has been well-documented, and the sense within the organization is that the presence of Irving can only help Boston if it trades for Davis without an assurance that he will re-sign after the 2019-20 season.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “Maybe the most intriguing team at the deadline are the New Orleans Pelicans. They are determined to try and find a way to convince Anthony Davis to stay long term. They could offer him a five-year, around $240 million super-max contract this offseason. If he says no to that, he’s essentially serving notice that he’s headed for free agency in 2020. The organization’s got to make a decision about whether they ride that out with him, maybe go into the summer, or do they want to make a trade, get back assets for a player, who, if he was on the trade market, would be as impactful of an available player via trade as maybe we’ve seen in the last decade in the NBA.”
Warriors. Anthony Davis. I’m throwing this out there, I’m not basing this on anything, but a sleeper team, Golden State for Anthony Davis. Chris Haynes: “That rumor’s been around for some time, and I think Tim Kawakami of the Athletic in the Bay Area started the reporting on that. And I think there was something to that. I’ll say this: I think things have changed a little bit now that Anthony Davis is repped by Rich Paul, who happens to be LeBron James’ agent. So I think [those rumors] had more juice this time last year, to go in that direction. I would be surprised if Golden State would be able to enter the field… to picking up AD. I think the Lakers have a legitimate shot. I think Boston is definitely gonna be in there. I can’t see Golden State picking that up. It would be mighty difficult – it’s just a lot of things have changed since then.”
I saw on here (The Athletic) where a source close to you said money would not be a deciding factor in whether or not you accept the Pelicans’ “supermax” offer if it comes. How do you separate money out of the equation? Anthony Davis: I never said money wasn’t important. Somebody (Chris Haynes, of Yahoo Sports) asked me about money or your legacy. In that case, your legacy lasts forever. Your money comes and goes, but for me I want to build a legacy. In that case, if you have to choose between money or legacy, I think legacy wins every time, in my opinion.
Gayle Benson: “And I think he’s up there helping. I think this thing with the horses, and even the Pelicans at the beginning of the season, well now they’re not doing so great, but I think we just need to give them a little bit more time. I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony (Davis) here. I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back. But I always keep in touch with people that we lose, like Benjamin Watson. When he left, I kept in touch with him, and now he’s back. And then you understand it. Adrian Peterson too. A lot of people that left, I don’t ever hold grudges with people. Even as angry, well it wasn’t so much angry but disappointed as I was with his family, I don’t wish anybody harm. I think God takes care of things and he’s taken care of that situation.”
Between 2019-20 and 2024-25, Davis can earn $266.6 million with the Pelicans compared to a projected $252.3 million with a team that trades for him; that’s a difference of $14.3 million, or only $2.4 million per season. The differential could shift depending on how much the cap increases, but either way, the disparity ranges from moderate to minuscule. What Davis loses in a trade is future financial security, which matters for a player who has missed an average of 14 games per season because of numerous injuries. The benefits are that Davis could play wherever he wants and retain control of his destiny.
Bobby Marks: As one team executive told ESPN in Vegas, “Anthony Davis will not be a free agent in the summer of 2020.” Yes, the All-Star can opt out of his contract after the 2019-20 season, but the future of Davis is most likely to be resolved by the first week of July — not in 18 months when he could be a free agent, or even at the Feb. 7 trade deadline. The options that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst laid out this week were confirmed by several teams in Las Vegas. After the Pelicans offer Davis a $239 million supermax extension in the offseason — which technically can’t happen until July 1 — Davis will either accept and commit to New Orleans long term or he’ll be traded early that same month.
Although you could argue that the designated player veteran extension (DPVE) has flaws, one positive is that the future of Davis will not linger into the 2019-20 season. Either Davis takes the biggest contract in NBA history or he signals it’s time for both sides to move on. As one team executive said, “This will not be a long, drawn-out process.”
Speaking with reporters Friday after the Los Angeles Lakers’ 112-104 win over New Orleans, James was asked if he erred when he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin this week that it would be “amazing” to play with Davis some day. Told that some felt it was wrong for James to talk about another player under contract, James replied, “So?” “What’d I do?” James said. “What did I do? Was it right or wrong?”
“Ask me if I’d like to play with Jimmy Butler,” James said. “Say it right now. Ask me about Kyrie Irving, Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. Ask me about [Joel] Embiid, Ben Simmons. Go ahead, all of them. Luka Doncic. Ask me right now. “Come on, guys, this is not rocket science. These are great players. Absolutely. I would love to play with a lot of great players. That is just who I am. People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me, at all. “And I play by the rules.”
I’m sure you’re aware there’s a lot of focus on what this season means in terms of keeping Anthony in New Orleans long term. What is like for you guys as a locker room? Recognizing the stakes for a small-market franchise like the Pelicans and a player like him? Julius Randle: Well, we don’t really focus on it. We don’t talk about it. We’re focused on the moment of now, and competing, and getting better as a team and reaching our full potential as a team. We really like our potential. At the end of day, AD is gonna do what’s best for AD. I don’t know what that is and I don’t want to have any influence on what that is. But he’s earned that right to do what he wants to do, as far as what’s best for him. Obviously, I would love to continue to play with him for the rest of my career.
As Antetokounmpo exited Fiserv Forum Wednesday night after his Bucks’ 123-115 victory over the Pelicans, he came upon Davis talking with a group of family and/or friends not far from the visitors’ dressing room. “Come to the Bucks, man,” Antetokounmpo said, smiling and shaking Davis’ hand. “Come to the Bucks.”
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday knows his team’s best hope to championship contention is coveted by the competition. “I mean, everybody wants to [have Davis on their team],” Holiday said. “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t. To us, he’s our franchise player. He’s top three in the world.” Is it distracting to hear and read media speculation about Davis potentially leaving? “Nah. I feel like, y’all hear it. We don’t really hear it,” Holiday said. “The only teams I know about is Boston and the Lakers. But again, we don’t really pay attention to that.”
There are worries around the league that Davis will turn down long-term deals altogether, and cycle — as James did — between one- and two-year contracts until he reaches an age and stage in his career when he is ready to lock into something longer.
Davis has given no indication he wants to leave New Orleans. In fact, he has been dedicating himself toward the team over the past year more than ever before. He’s playing through injuries. He’s playing out of his preferred position. He has shown noticeable leadership growth. He’s having a career season and has a real chance at the MVP award.
Ahead of Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time this season on Friday, LeBron James openly pondered what having the All-Star forward alongside him in purple and gold at Staples Center would be like. “That would be amazing,” James told ESPN on Tuesday before the Lakers’ 115-110 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, referring to the Lakers landing Davis through a trade. “That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”
James had Davis on his mind after seeing ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski laying out the Lakers’ trade priorities in a segment that aired on Tuesday’s SportsCenter. “They’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season because they’ve got to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer pre- or post-free agency,” Wojnarowski said. “That’s why they’ve looked at players who are on one-year deals who don’t have money going forward.”
But the C’s may be battling with their historic rival if (when) Davis becomes available. “Boston has been hawking Anthony Davis for years,” Wojnarowski said in an ESPN video with Zach Lowe. “They always hoped that it would be, whether it’s the end of this season or the beginning of next before the trade deadline, that they would gather up all those assets, all those picks Danny Ainge has, [all the] young players, and they’d be the team to be able to get Anthony Davis. But now you have L.A. and if they get shut out in free agency, they’re going to have to take all their young players to try to use them to get Anthony Davis.”
Conversations with six league sources—team executives, scouts and an assistant coach—reveal a consensus that New Orleans won’t have an easy time fixing these problems. But with so much riding on their ability to make a playoff push, they have to try. So how can they do it? Those sources offered several suggestions. 1) Get Payton back in one piece: It’s easy to forget, but the Pelicans actually got off to a sizzling start. They won their first four games, scoring at least 116 points in each of those contests, and Payton was a surprising catalyst. He was averaging 14.5 ppg, 7.0 apg and 7.0 rpg, but in the Pelicans’ fifth game, he sprained his ankle. They lost to the Jazz that night, then dropped five more games in a row. Payton returned on Nov. 16 against the Knicks, but broke his finger that night and hasn’t played since. After surgery, he was expected to miss six weeks, which would put him back in the lineup around the start of 2019—and that date can’t come fast enough for the Pelicans.
The Pelicans have acknowledged as much by moving Moore to the bench and giving Hill another run in the starting lineup. But Hill has shown that he isn’t the answer, which means help must come from outside of the organization. “I know they’re talking to a lot of teams,” says the East exec. The Pelicans’ shopping list would look similar to Houston’s—which is part of the problem. “The whole league is looking for small forwards,” says a Western Conference exec. The supply simply isn’t there to match the demand.
The fact that he looked worn down from the Pelicans’ heavy schedule, coupled with the hip issue, only underscores just how talented he really is — which is precisely why the Celtics, and so many other teams around the NBA, are constantly surveying the situation in New Orleans to see if Davis will sign the supermax contract extension he will undoubtedly be offered next summer. If he doesn’t sign it, the Pelicans will have no choice but to trade him. If it comes to that, there will be no shortage of suitors, with Boston obviously among them. Davis, though, said he wasn’t thinking about any of that. “I heard it tonight,” the 25-year-old said when asked if he heard the local fans cheering for him during the game. “But I’m just focused on this team. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It’s been a rocky season, so it’s on me to try to figure it out.
Down the hall later, Gentry acknowledged the rumor issue has been addressed with Davis. “I talked to him and told him that’s totally on him,” the coach said. “You know, he should do whatever he thinks is necessary, talk or not talk about it. But I told him we’re not covering any of it. I said all we’re going to worry about is our season this year and try to get it back to the playoffs. And then after that, I mean, it’s not a decision that any of us are going to have to make. It’s going to be him making the decision. That’s the way it is. “To me, it’s white noise. We’re going to play and do whatever we want to do, and when decision-making time comes, he’ll make a decision.”
Tom Westerholm: Celtics fans cheer Anthony Davis (it’s sideways, but you get the idea).
If that happens, the Pelicans will have only one logical option: to trade Davis before he leaves in free agency. The same process has played out with several others, including Leonard, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George. None of them, though, would inspire the kind of bidding war an available Davis would. “That’s what you guys do,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of the trade speculation. “You guys talk about it. He’s here. He’s playing on our team. We’re trying to win games. That’s the only thing that matters right now. “It’s not anything that I’m going to have a say-so in or anything else, so we don’t bother with it. We worry about now. We worry about winning games and putting everybody in the best position to win games.”
But most importantly as it pertains to the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are very much in play as the ultimate long-term landing zone for the best player on the New Orleans Pelicans. A source with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the NBA told Get More Sports that Davis is considering five teams in the near and distant future: The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
The speculation isn’t expected to cool down, with Davis recently hiring Rich Paul of Klutch Sports — the same agent who reps LeBron James — to represent him. In the summer, the Lakers will be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of high-caliber stars to pair with James in the free-agent and trade markets. Boston, Golden State, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers will also be some of the teams monitoring Davis’ situation, sources told Yahoo Sports.
But most of all, Davis just wants to win. That’s why rival NBA executives are of the belief that Davis could be up for grabs for a large-market organization well before he is expected to opt out of his contract in 2020. He is eligible for a super-max extension with the Pelicans in July 2019 that is worth $235 million for five years. If Davis were to pass on such a massive deal, as some executives believe he could, the franchise would be forced to contemplate trading its cornerstone. Nevertheless, Davis said he’ll concern himself with contractual matters in the summer.
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November 30, 2020 | 6:26 pm EST Update
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