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NBA Daily: Let The Anthony Davis Sweepstakes Begin

With the recent news that the New Orleans Pelicans will start listening to offers for Anthony Davis, Jordan Hicks takes a look at a few potential deals.

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Finally, Anthony Davis may be available once again. Since his trade request went public in late January, the New Orleans Pelicans rebuffed every incoming offer, eventually opting to keep Davis until the offseason. David Griffin, the new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations in New Orleans, has officially started listening to proposals for their star forward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dell Demps, the former general manager for the Pelicans, never made it clear whether or not the franchise was actually trying to find a trade partner before the deadline back in February. Even though the Pelicans secured the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Davis has still insisted that he wants a trade — with preferred destinations of the Knicks, Lakers or Clippers.

It’s important to note that while Davis can definitely let the Pelicans where he wants to be moved, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his current contract, so New Orleans will likely deal the star to whichever team offers them the best deal.

Davis’ decision to leak a list of ideal teams could help, however, because said franchises are more likely to get a deal done if the six-time All-Star intends to sign there long term. That still doesn’t mean that it will work in his favor and the Kawhi Leonard situation from last year shows exactly why. Toronto took a major gamble and the fact that they’re currently playing in the franchise’s first NBA Finals could technically mean it was worth it, regardless of what Leonard does in the offseason.

Let’s take a look at some potential teams that could get a deal done, what it would entail and reasons why it would — or wouldn’t — work out.

Los Angeles Lakers

This one still feels like the most likely scenario — despite the reports that New Orleans once had zero interest in dealing Davis to the Lakers. It seemed as if the Lakers were by far the most desperate team to get a deal done back in February, essentially offering their entire roster sans LeBron James for Davis. The Pelicans were patient and it looks like that patience may pay off in a significant way.

Partly due to the fact that the Lakers never acquired Davis, they ended up missing the playoffs. They didn’t finish near the bottom, so their lottery chances weren’t high either. But the powers that be blessed the Lakers and they ended up with the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft with their minimal 2.8 percent chance.

That pick, coupled with any or all of their young core, could be enough to get a deal done. In all likelihood, they’d need to include Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball in just about any trade discussion. If they’re able to keep any of those guys — or even Josh Hart — Los Angeles would definitely consider themselves lucky.

Putting Davis alongside James would instantly make the Lakers a playoff team, perhaps even vaulting them into the Finals discussion depending on where Kevin Durant signs this offseason.

Plenty of other teams in the league will do what they can to finalize a deal with New Orleans, so although the Lakers have a great chance, their competition is just as fierce.

New York Knicks

The Knicks have one thing the Lakers don’t have: A better draft pick. They had the fortune — or misfortune in the eyes of Knicks fans — of landing the No. 3 pick in this year’s lottery and, with the draft class appearing to be incredibly top-heavy, it is that much better than the selection held by Los Angeles.

With it, the Pelicans could choose R.J. Barrett and pair him up with former Duke teammate Zion Williamson — as it is assumed the Pelicans intend to draft him first.

The deal would also likely include some combination of Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith, Jr. While that group isn’t quite as strong as the Lakers’ assets, it’s still a collection with plenty of talent and quite a bit of upside.

The Knicks will certainly pursue this trade to a much higher degree if they’re able to acquire another star via free agency. If that’s the case, there will likely be a slew of future draft picks thrown in to force the Pelicans to take their offer.

Boston Celtics

While the Celtics have the ability to offer two first-rounders for this draft, neither pick is that high. Currently, Boston holds the No. 14 and No. 22 overall selections.

This deal will only get done if they offer what many consider their best asset and that, of course, would be none other than Jayson Tatum.

Tatum has had a much better career than any player previously mentioned thus far, already leading Boston to back-to-back postseason appearances. Although his rookie-year playoff performance was considerably better than anything he did during his sophomore campaign, the intangibles of a superstar are definitely still there.

He’s incredibly gifted offensively, has impressive length and is still, obviously, very young.

Would his talents alone — combined with one or both of their first-rounders — be enough to get a deal done? That’s for New Orleans to decide.

Whether or not Danny Ainge risks trading Tatum just to have Davis leave next summer is another concern. The Celtics were not on the superstar’s list of teams, so Boston might not even offer anything. Why risk a huge part of your future for a year with Davis? This package undoubtedly hinges on Kyrie Irving’s upcoming free agency decision as well.

These three options all seem to be the most likely, but any team could swoop in with a surprise offer — a la the Toronto Raptors this past season. The offseason hasn’t even started yet, but rumors and discussions will only ramp up from here.

As of now, it’s not clear whatsoever where he’ll ultimately end up, but come the start of the 2019-20 season, one thing seems certain: Anthony Davis will not be in a Pelicans uniform.

Jordan Hicks is an NBA writer based out of Salt Lake City. He is a former college athlete and varsity sports official. Find him on Twitter @JordanHicksNBA.

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