Storyline: Anthony Davis to Celtics?

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Should Irving leave, and the team’s bid for an Anthony Davis trade fall through, then short of moving ahead with what’s left, Danny Ainge’s creativity will be tested like never before. Though he wouldn’t share specifics, Grousbeck has admittedly heard some fairly exotic scenarios being discussed. “There’s definitely scenarios being spun inside the basketball office,” he said. “I’m there every day listening to them, that involve a number of players. I’ve heard a lot of scenarios. We’ll just see what happens.”

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.”

This will still be an anxious week for the Boston brass, knowing the team will be sidelined from negotiations as other teams try to pry Davis from the Pelicans. Some rival executives have wondered why the Pelicans would rush to make a decision now, with the likelihood that the Lakers’ offer will still be there come the offseason. At that time, New Orleans would be able to better judge its other offers, including that from Boston. Jayson Tatum is widely viewed as the best prospect potentially on the table. The Celtics also have a list of other talented young players, like Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, plus a number of draft picks to sweeten the offer. Even if the Kings’ pick isn’t likely to land where Boston hoped entering the season, the Celtics have the pieces to compete with anyone else’s offer — and they intend to be aggressive, sources said, assuming they actually get the chance to enter the race.

This latest Lakers-Celtics subplot would be dead by now if Ainge had been scared off, but sources say Boston — which can’t trade for Davis until this summer because of the well-chronicled “Rose Rule” — is continuing its complicated pursuit of the five-time All-Star in spite of the message being sent through various channels that he doesn’t want to play there. A source with knowledge of the talks said the potential centerpiece in a Pelicans package, 20-year-old Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum, has been discussed extensively by the two teams and is expected to be a major part of the talks when June rolls around.

As the Pelicans field offers for Anthony Davis, Boston’s message to New Orleans has been direct: Wait. Wait, and we will come to you with an offer that will make it worth it. Wait, and you can raid our stash of draft picks. The Celtics have refused to directly dangle Jayson Tatum, two sources familiar with the situation told SI.com, but the Pelicans have been left with the impression that if Davis remains on the roster past Thursday, nothing is off the table.
1 year ago via ESPN

Boston’s plan to pursue Davis remains unaffected by whatever decision Irving might make in summer free agency, league sources said. Irving, 26, had previously said he planned to re-sign with the Celtics in the summer but has recently wavered in public on that promise. While the Celtics can’t be positive on Irving’s forthcoming decision in July, they do remain confident that he’ll choose to stay in Boston, sources said. The Celtics also believe that a deal for Davis would help solidify his confidence in re-signing with the organization, sources said.

Woj expressed the Pelicans still hope to make it back to the postseason in 2018-19, as well, which factors into their being patient. However, the Boston Celtics’ interest in Davis has played a part in this, too. Although Danny Ainge and company can’t make an offer until the end of the season because of the “Rose Rule” Boston still has the best and largest group of assets to offer—which is something the Celtics have apparently made clear to the Pelicans.

Adrian Wojnarowski: “Essentially, having Boston in the bidding, who is the team with the most draft picks, several outstanding young players and a really motivated team to try to acquire Anthony Davis it only elevates everyone else’s offers in the trade process and Boston is going to be there. And I think, Boston has sent a message to the Pelicans, ‘Be patient. Wait for us, we are going to be in this and we’re going to be willing to talk about essentially everyone on our roster outside of Kyrie Irving.’ So, I think right now it’s put New Orleans very much in a holding pattern and it’s really dampened the possibility of the [Los Angeles] Lakers being able to do what they’d love to do, is get a deal done prior to the trade deadline. New Orleans has no interest in acquiescing Anthony Davis to the Lakers right now.”

When Anthony Davis’s camp made it clear this week that the All-Star did not intend to sign an extension with the Pelicans this summer and would like to be traded, it ignited what is sure to be a feeding frenzy that will likely last until summer, as teams feverishly look for ways to acquire one of the NBA’s transcendent talents. But according to multiple league sources, Boston has been diligently preparing for this scenario for months. During this time, the Celtics have made informal calls to the Pelicans, the sources said, understanding that New Orleans was in no hurry to trade its centerpiece, but making sure that if the time came where its hand was forced, Boston would be ready.

The timing of Davis’s request this week is certainly not ideal for the Celtics. A league rule forbids teams from acquiring multiple players who have signed designated rookie extensions, and Irving was the first. So the Celtics would have to wait until Irving opts out of his deal on July 1 to make a move, while most other teams can try to strike now, prior to next Thursday’s trade deadline. But if Davis remains in New Orleans after the deadline, league sources say, there is a growing belief around the league that the Celtics would become the favorites to land the superstar forward.
1 year ago via ESPN

GM Danny Ainge is undeterred on making a trade for Davis, even without an assurance that he would agree to an extension with the Celtics, league sources said. Boston has been calling New Orleans for the past year-plus on Davis, and has gathered multiple first-round picks and young players to include in a package for him. Davis has a strong relationship with Irving, and Boston knows that trading for Davis would assuredly perish any possibility of Irving changing his mind and leaving the Celtics in free agency this summer.
1 year ago via ESPN

New Orleans plans to issue a statement later Monday, but officials are already privately expressing that the organization doesn’t feel pressure to move Davis before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. Davis’ declaration on wanting out now give teams other than the Boston Celtics a head start in pursuing trades for Davis. Restricted by the Designated Rookie Extension contract, Boston cannot trade for Davis until July 1 because Collective Bargaining rules wouldn’t allow both Kyrie Irving’s and Davis’ contracts to be on a roster together under that provision. Irving becomes a free agent on July 1. Boston could agree to a Davis trade with New Orleans prior to July 1 and then finalize a trade after that date.

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.”

The Celtics have been floated as a trade partner for the Pelican’s Anthony Davis for a long time now due to an outstanding young core and they want to add another superstar. In fact, outside of the Lakers, they’ve arguably generated the most talk. Forward Jayson Tatum — who broke out during last year’s postseason when Kyrie Irving was injured — is one of the names most commonly brought up. Tatum is well aware of the talk, as is his father, Justin. Justin told Cedric Maxwell of “The Sports Hub” that “I probably would trade [Tatum] too, if he wasn’t my son” to get Davis. When Tatum was told that his dad had said that, his response was simple: “Yeah, I’d trade me too for Anthony Davis,” he told Maxwell. The response drew some laughs.

If Davis indicates that he won’t extend, the Pelicans may find a trade is the only answer, lest they lose one of the league’s elite players without any compensation. The buzz in Las Vegas, where most of the league’s executives gathered over the past few days for the NBA G League Winter Showcase, is that Davis will end up with either the Boston Celtics or Lakers before the 2019-20 season. “It’s a renewal of the NBA’s great rivalries, just not on the court but behind the scenes,” one executive said.

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.”

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.”

If they do, the Celtics will be one of the obvious suitors, with Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Robert Williams and/or a number of future picks including a possible top-five selection to dangle. Even if Tatum’s off the table, Boston would be able to field a competitive offer. Several league sources have said they believe Davis could end up either with the Celtics or Lakers if the Pelicans were to move him. If he landed with the Celtics, he’d be reunited with former Team USA teammate Irving. The two have already spoken about what it would be like to play together in Boston, according to a league source.

I’ve long felt the Celtics should hold tight to their assets—from the Lakers/Kings first-round pick they received in the Tatum trade to Tatum himself—with the hopes of landing another big fish. But one executive I spoke with made a good point: The Pelicans trading Anthony Davis is nothing more than a fantasy. Even if AD, who can opt out of his current contract in 2020, was eventually made available, by that point, Boston may not even have the most to offer. Boston shouldn’t wait on that pipe dream, the executive contended, and should pounce on the next good opportunity that comes.

While teams are already preparing for a free-agent class in ’19 that potentially includes Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, one executive astutely pointed out that the Celtics just might have the right picks at the right time to swing a trade for a superstar still under contract in ’19, but who makes clear to his current team he won’t sign an extension. 7. Someone like Anthony Davis. It’s all conjecture and speculation at this point, but that’s what All-Star weekend is all about. And A.D. on a team that includes Kyrie Irving and the slew of talent Boston is assembling could realistically be enough to topple the Cavs’ empire within the next year or two — even if James stays.

Sorry to shut down the party, but a Davis-to-the-Celtics deal isn’t happening any time soon. During an appearance on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explained why Davis will remain in a Pelicans jersey. “New Orleans has no intention of trading Anthony Davis,” Woj said. “Boston’s uniquely positioned in that they have draft picks and young players and all the things — if a team was gonna trade Anthony Davis — all the things you’d want. But [the Pelicans] aren’t trading Anthony Davis… He wants to make it work in New Orleans. He wants to get into the playoffs.”

The Celtics and Pelicans have yet to engage in any discussions regarding a trade for Anthony Davis, but, in a Herald exclusive, New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry set the price for a potential transaction between the clubs. “I know there’s been rumors about Boston trying to trade for him or whatever,” said Gentry, “and my response to that is, yeah, we’ll trade him. But they’re going to have to give us the New England Patriots and the two planes that they just bought. . . . And I don’t think they’re going to do that. So we’re not even thinking about those kind of things.”

As for the stories about Davis at each stop on the Pelicans’ itinerary, Gentry said, “It doesn’t matter. To me, he likes it, he likes being here and that’s the only thing that matters. Every indication I get when I talk to him is that he’s committed to being in New Orleans. I mean, he’s a once in a lifetime player, and he’s happy here. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but he’s never said anything to me but, ‘I want to win and I want to do it here.’ So it’s up to us to just continue to try to put the necessary players around him to get that done.”
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