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.
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Scott Kushner: Anthony Davis: “I’m here until 2021 and then I’ll make a decision from there. I don’t plan on leaving in the next couple of years or anything like that. I’ve always said I wanted to be here and that’s still true.” Davis: “We have taken steps to be a winning franchise. We have just been hit with the injury bug every year since I’ve been here so we can’t see our full potential. We know where we could’ve been if we had those guys. But we don’t. We have to keep playing.”
Davis: “You have to take it year by year. I don’t go into any year saying I don’t want to be here or nothing like that. Of course at some point you want to win. I feel like we are trying to get the right pieces around here.” AD: “I think our front office is doing a better job. The best job they can do. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. But you do have to take it year by year & see how it goes. That’s how I’m approaching it. Of course Cuz is a big factor, what he is going to do or not.”
Davis said that hearing former players such as Kevin Garnett express regret about not asking sooner for a trade to a more competitive franchise has made him think. “It makes you think, ’cause you’re wondering if you’re following in that same path,” he said. “But then again, you’re like, ‘This year could be the year.’ So, just got to take it year by year and just see, and see where the team is going, what direction they want to go to and just see where their head is.”
At least, that’s the view from other front offices. Several teams — Boston, most prominently, but also Golden State, San Antonio and Chicago — will go into this trade deadline not only with their own rosters in mind, but with some consideration for the potential of a Davis trade this summer. “A.D. is obviously a great player, but they’re stuck and his free agency is coming faster than you think,” one GM told Sporting News. “It is hard to operate under the gun with a situation like that, so it is something they’ll need to at least explore this summer. If Dell stays on, he is going to want to find ways to keep building and maybe even take a chance on keeping DeMarcus. But if Dell goes, there are four or five teams hoping hard for a fire sale.”
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 Pelicans are nowhere close to even entertaining a single trade proposal for Davis from Boston or anyone else. The Brow, based on everything I’ve heard, badly wants to make it work with the Pels and also happens to be under contract for two more seasons after this one. No matter how many people suggest it, Boston can’t trade for Anthony Davis. So can we drop this one?
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.”
One would think such talk, even of the media-driven variety, would be highly disturbing to a coach trying to develop a team into a single-minded unit. Distractions are destruction in his line of work. But Gentry is undeterred. “That stuff doesn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s white noise. You just block it out and you move on. I don’t really pay it very much attention at all.”
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.”
Jake Madison: Woj on the Dan LeBatard show just said there is no truth to rumors linking Anthony Davis and Boston. He said again that Davis wants to make it work in New Orleans
Jake Madison: Said it would take a drastic change in direction for the franchise to move Davis. Team still wants to resign Cousins this offseason.
Will Guillory: I’ve talked to a few executives from the #Pelicans organization today and they call the Anthony Davis trade rumors “laughable”. There’s a lot of optimism about where the team is headed and zero talks of making any drastic moves before the deadline.
Jay King: Anthony Davis did NOT want to discuss any Boston Celtics rumors. On the Woj report that he talked to front office about them, “I haven’t had that conversation with my front office.” youtu.be/Hqi1cv8ioAs
Davis remains an obsession of several NBA teams full of the necessary trade assets to unfasten him from New Orleans, should the Pelicans ever consider a rebuild — or should Davis ever request a trade. Boston has remained vigilant on the possibility of acquiring Davis, and Davis knows it. However, the Pelicans have no intention of trading an all-world talent under contract through 2021, no matter the return.
He walked into GM Dell Demps’ office and asked about it. “He told me that [Boston] was calling, but nothing was going to happen,” Davis said. “At the same time, though, you see how organizations treat players. Isaiah Thomas. DeMarcus [Cousins] told me that the [Kings] told him that he wasn’t going to get traded, but they traded him. Isaiah took his team to Eastern Conference Finals, and they traded him. “It makes you wonder: Does this organization really have my back? I’ve been loyal to this organization. I love it here. I love this team. I think we’re moving in the right direction. DeMarcus, Rondo, some other players that are helping us, but people get judged on winning. And I want to win.
If Anthony Davis becomes available — and the Celtics’ eyes are very much trained on him — Boston could throw together a package more compelling than just about anyone else’s. Irving would be an indirect part of that package. The NBA’s superstar class respects his ballsy showman’s game. (Ainge has long liked Irving more than most of his peers for some of the same reasons, sources say.)
Davis was asked about some of the weirdest questions campers had for him, and he said one stuck out above them all. “I get asked all types of random stuff,” he said with smile. “The craziest (question) was if I was going to Boston.” Davis meant it as a joke, but he acknowledged that it was hard to ignore the amount of trade rumors this summer that have speculated about his potential departure from New Orleans.
Davis said that he spoke with his agent, Thaddeus Foucher, and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps about the rumors earlier in the offseason and he was assured that there was nothing to worry about. “I understand it’s a business, but if I don’t hear anything from Dell or my agent, I don’t pay attention to it,” said Davis, who averaged 28 points and 11.8 rebounds in 2016-17. “Once I first heard (the rumors), then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn’t (true), and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven’t paid attention to it since.”
Davis, who has played the first five years of his career with the Pelicans, made it clear that his desire is to stay in New Orleans. “I am happy here as a Pelican,” he said. “I am happy here.”
Mannix said the Celtics have the capability of putting together a hard-to-turn-down offer, especially if the lottery luck continues with the Nets and Lakers picks the C’s own. “If you’re the Pelicans, they’re going to be very few offers that make you pause for Anthony Davis,” Mannix said. “Spin it forward to next June and the let’s say ping-pong balls fall Boston’s way. The Nets are bad, let’s say they’re number one. The Lakers land in the two through five range. Let’s say they wind up at three. “One and three and Jayson Tatum?” Mannix theorized. “That’s going to be hard for New Orleans to turn down.”
“It’s reasonable to think that he will want out and that his people will start pressing to get him out,” Beck said. “If you’re the Boston Celtics and you’re still sitting on that cache of picks and players, you are sitting so perfectly to make that kind of deal. Arguably, given Anthony Davis’ talent and his age, this should be the best package we’ve seen in, I don’t know, decades. It should be the kind of package that blows you away. The kind of package people thought they wanted to see Boston do for Paul George or Jimmy Butler.
It figures to be an interesting season in Boston. The addition of Gordon Hayward fortified a top-seeded roster, while dismal seasons by the Nets (who will fork over their 2018 first-round pick) and Lakers (who owe Boston their ’18 pick if it falls between Nos. 2 and 5) will help the Celtics continue to build for the future. In addition, rival executives expect Boston to be keeping close tabs on New Orleans, which is entering a critical season. The Pelicans are committed to seeing if an Anthony Davis-DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt can work, but if the season goes awry, it’s widely believed the Celtics will make a strong run at Davis, who is under contract through 2020.
Is a blockbuster, player-heavy deal in the offing? As of now, league sources told The Vertical that isn’t the case. Boston – everyone, really – would love to get its hands on Anthony Davis. But Davis is tied to a manageable contract through 2021, and the Pelicans appear committed to giving the Davis-DeMarcus Cousins pairing a full season together.
Struggles by the New Orleans Pelicans this season won’t affect Anthony Davis’ long-term commitment to the franchise, he said Thursday. “Look, I’m here. If I was thinking about leaving, I’d never re-sign [last summer]. I’m here to stay,” Davis told ESPN Radio’s Meet The All-Stars show that will air Saturday night (5:30 p.m. ET).
Struggles by the New Orleans Pelicans this season won’t impact Anthony Davis’ long-term commitment to the franchise, he said Thursday. “Look, I’m here. If I was thinking about leaving, I’d never re-sign [last summer]. I’m here to stay,” Davis told ESPN Radio’s “Meet The All-Stars” show that will air Saturday night (5:30 p.m. ET).
“I’m here to help this team win [and] put this franchise back on the map,” Davis said Thursday.
“I don’t plan on leaving, so make sure you write that down,” Davis said when asked about trade speculation.
Another questioner asked Davis about an Internet rumor speculating that he and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook could eventually join forces with the Lakers in Los Angeles, where his agent, Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group is based. “I don’t pay attention to (the rumors),” Davis said. “I don’t know who said it or how it came about. I’m with the Pelicans right now.”
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry laughed at those who would believe they might pry AD away from NOLA. “No,” said Gentry. “Let me tell you, I learned a long time ago — and this is my 28th year in the league — that you don’t trade great for good, no matter how many you get. Having one great player really makes your team better than having three good players. And they’ve proven that. I can go all the way back to the Charles Barkley trade (from Philadelphia to Phoenix for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry) and the Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) trade (from Milwaukee with Walt Wesley to the Lakers for Dave Meyers, Junior Bridgeman, Brian Winters and Len Elmore).
“Obviously it’s a franchise-defining moment really,” said Gentry, who signed on with the Pelicans after winning a ring as an assistant coach with the Warriors in 2015. “You get one of the five best players in the league, in my opinion, for sure who’s saying that ‘I want to be in New Orleans.’ He could have easily waited and become a free agent. He’s saying he wants to be in New Orleans, and he sees a future there. Now, I think, for us, we’ve just got to surround him with the proper people, because he’s locked in. He wants to have success and he wants to win and he wants to be able to do it in New Orleans. I think that says a lot for our franchise, and it says a lot about him.”
It says that he wasn’t going with the trend that has seen stars sign on to create a wagon (LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami) or join one (Kevin Durant to Golden State). “I think he’s a little bit different in that respect,” said Gentry of Davis. “I’m telling you, he’s a loyal, loyal guy. He’s a very loyal guy, He’s just a treat to coach, because you can coach him just like you coach anybody else, and he accepts that. And the thing for me that’s so defining about him is that, when we lose, he always looks at himself first and says, ‘What could I have done better? How could I help us win?’ He’ll even text me and say, ‘What should I have done better tonight?’ To be able to have a guy in a situation like that that you’re able to coach, you might be lucky to have a guy like that once.”
Around Davis, those inquiring about potential displeasure – even as far as a potential trade – are met by a strong-willed, loyal star committed to the franchise. “My desire to win here is the same,” Davis told The Vertical. “I go out there and play. I don’t care what the record is. I just go out there and play. I have to lead this team and make sure my guys are always happy and high energy. I don’t care what people say about our team. They’re not in our locker room seeing us, not part of our group. That’s all white noise. I just try to control what I can: go out there and compete.”
But I’m told the Celtics at this point are only interested in potential “game changers” on the trade market. One name to keep an eye on is New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. The only way Davis will come into play is if Davis wants out, something that isn’t that far-fetched when you consider the steady run of injuries he’s enduring on a team that’s going nowhere fast. The Celtics have draft picks galore, young talent with very team-friendly contracts and being in the East, that would mean the Pelicans would only see Davis twice a season.
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April 26, 2018 | 5:44 am EDT Update
No compensation will be needed to hire Budenholzer — once thought of as a potential stumbling block to any potential deal. The Post previously reported an NBA source saying Budenholzer considers the Knicks his “top choice.” “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes,’’ the source told The Post. “He wants to live in New York.’’
Sources have indicated the Knicks have strong feelings for the defensive-minded Budenholzer, who guided the Hawks to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons. The Knicks are well aware of the good work he did helping Tim Hardaway Jr.’s career when he played in Atlanta. The drawback is they have no prior connection to him, but the plus is he’s part of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree.
LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have ended their stint in Lithuania because both of the brothers are hurt and there are only two games left in the season, sources close to the Ball family told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. The early exit had the approval of the team, BC Vytautas, the sources told Haynes.
LaVar Ball, the brothers’ father, told 15min.lt that LaMelo would not return to the team next season. “You really ask me this? Coach ruined everything, and he’ll have to pay the price that Melo is not coming back,” he said.
Here’s what Victor Oladipo, who was the one James swatted, had to say about it: “I got a step on him (LeBron James), felt like I even got grabbed on the way to the rim, tried to shoot a layup, it hit the backboard, then he blocked it. There’s replays … I guess it’s a tough plays at the time for ’em, but it was a goaltend. I mean, it’s hard to even speak on it. It just sucks, honestly. It really sucks.”
Sam Amico: LeBron James on Victor Oladipo shot at end: “I definitely thought it was a goaltend.” (Laughter from media, LeBron smiles). “Of course I didn’t think it was a goaltend.” #Cavs #Pacers #NBAPlayoffs