The Los Angeles Lakers greatly improved any trade package they could make to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis in Tuesday’s 2019 NBA Draft Lottery when they were awarded the No.4 overall pick. L.A. might now present the best offer to New Orleans when the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes resumes this summer, but that still might not be enough to put the superstar in purple and gold.
The Pelicans rejected the Lakers’ trade offer in February, uninterested in sending Davis to his desired destination. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday that he believes the organization’s stance on not wanting to make a deal with Los Angeles has not changed.
New Orleans’ first priority appears to be convincing Davis to stay now that they’ve won the lottery and will draft Zion Williamson. But if the Pelicans decide to trade their best player, they might ultimately send him to a team like the New York Knicks or Boston Celtics if the offers are even close to equal.
Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, seemingly tried to orchestrate a trade to the Lakers during the season by telling the Pelicans he wouldn’t sign a contract extension and making it known he would only re-sign with a handful of potential New Orleans trade partners.
.@WindhorstESPN on Anthony Davis trade:
“If the Pelicans want to go all young and build around Zion, I think the Knicks have the best package to offer”
“From what I understand the Pelicans are not interested in making a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers”pic.twitter.com/b5S0AEBpYn
— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) May 15, 2019
The Lakers’ offer to the Pelicans more than three months ago reportedly included Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and two first-round draft picks. Maybe if Los Angeles had won the lottery, or even earned the second pick and the right to draft Murray State point guard Ja Morant, New Orleans would be more inclined to make Davis LeBron James’ teammate.
The Knicks are expected to make a play for Davis, and their package is arguably in the same ballpark. Los Angeles’ young players are valued more than the likes of Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr. and Mitchell Robinson. New York can offer the best draft pick with the No.3 selection in this year’s draft.
The 2019 draft is often referred to as a “three-player” draft with Williamson, Morant and Duke’s RJ Barrett viewed largely as the only potential stars. The Knicks also own seven first-round picks in the next five years.
Boston can probably make the best offer with Jayston Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the No.14, No.20 and No.22 picks in this year’s draft, as well as the Memphis Grizzlies’ top-six protected pick next year. If Kyrie Irving decides to leave in free agency, the Celtics are unlikely to offer all of those assets for a player that could sign elsewhere when his deal is up in 2020.
Dark-horse contenders for Davis could emerge this summer. That’s what happened in 2017 when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Paul George and last offseason when the Toronto Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard. The Los Angeles Clippers were named by Davis as a team he’d liked to play for and can probably offer a better package than the Lakers.
New Pelicans’ executive vice president David Griffin could convince ownership to take the best deal for Davis, even if it comes from the Lakers. Griffin also seems intent on doing everything possible to keep the Pelicans’ star, which could mean this will drag out all the way until February’s trade deadline.
The Lakers dealt with a similar situation last year when the San Antonio Spurs reportedly had little interest in sending them Leonard, no matter what they offered for the All-Star.