Well, this is one way to make this year’s trade deadline extra spicy with drama. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Anthony Davis has requested a trade out of New Orleans.
Agent Rich Paul has notified the New Orleans Pelicans that All-NBA forward Anthony Davis has no intention of signing a contract extension if and when presented and that he has requested a trade, Paul told ESPN on Monday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2019
This is a bombshell that will reverberate around the Association, especially once Davis is officially dealt either in February or July.
However, what I wanted to focus on following this Davis news is how this could or couldn’t impact the Suns over the next six months.
First off, let’s make this clear: The Suns will not get Davis unless they want to give up Deandre Ayton plus their 2019 first-round pick unprotected. That’s not going to happen. Hypothetically speaking, a deal for Davis would have to include these pieces: Ayton, T.J. Warren, Elie Okobo, 2019 Suns 1st (unprotected), 2020 Bucks 1st, and future Suns draft pick(s). Again, not a chance it goes down unless Davis for some reason loved Phoenix. The thing is, as Paul told Wojnarowski in his report, Davis wants to play for a contender who can help him reach championship status.
Other teams like the Knicks (Kristaps Porzingis and 2019 1st), Raptors (Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and picks), 76ers (Ben Simmons and 2021 Miami pick via Phoenix), and Nuggets (Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.) might be willing to bite the bullet and gamble outside of Los Angeles and Boston. Outside of places that think they could pull off the next Paul George situation with Davis, there’s honestly not many options that fit this specific criteria. It’s either the Lakers, Celtics, or legitimate title contenders who believe that a few months of Davis would push them over the top.
With Klutch Sports, Davis’ new agency that Paul runs, leaking this out less than two weeks before the Feb. 7 trade deadline maximizes the Lakers’ chances of obtaining Davis. Unlike Boston, who has to wait until July due to Kyrie Irving’s contract (unless they include Irving in the trade back to NOLA), Los Angeles can offer up everything in their war chest (such as Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram) for an MVP candidate.
Ever since LeBron James signed with the Lakers, people began to connect the dots to Davis eventually asking out and joining him. The smoke turned into a full-on wildfire when Davis hired Paul as his new agent in September. Four months later, the 25-year-old superstar wants out.
One interesting angle not talked about enough is how New Orleans will go about responding from Davis’ trade demand. General Manager Dell Demps is on the clock for his own job security, so will he oblige or hold his ground? Also, how does the eventual Davis deal impact the rest of the Pelicans’ core?
As currently constructed, the Pelicans would’ve had just enough cap space to chase another star to pair with Davis and Jrue Holiday this summer. Renouncing all of their impending free agents and waiving non-guaranteed contracts places New Orleans at $34.4 million. That’s all for naught now with this massive domino falling on Monday morning.
Now, the expectations should be a fire-sale is coming to New Orleans soon. Julius Randle would decline his player option, while Nikola Mirotic likely walks this summer as an unrestricted free agent himself. That leaves Holiday all alone in the Bayou as his player option doesn’t pop up until 2021. If Demps and Co. are savvy enough to maneuver through this, they would trade Holiday as well to help accelerate this incoming rebuild that will last awhile.
That’s where the Suns come into play out of this whole Davis saga. Holiday has enough value still being in his physical prime where he would attract viable pieces back. Also, you couldn’t think of a better backcourt partner on-paper for Devin Booker than Holiday.
Holiday said AD is “like 90 percent” the reason I stayed in New Orleans.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 28, 2019
Once Davis exits out of New Orleans, Holiday should be next and the Suns should be aggressive in their pursuit. If not Mike Conley right now, then Holiday in the summer is the next logical choice that finally pushes Phoenix’s timeline forward.
Holiday was an All-NBA Defensive member this past season, and his ability to easily slide between both guard positions would be so valuable with another combo guard in Booker. The 10-year veteran out of UCLA is averaging 21.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game this season. Holiday is also under contract through 2021 ($26.3 million player option for 2021-2022 season), not interfering one bit with an Ayton extension while never making more than Booker.
Similarly to Conley, I would be willing to offer up a lot for Holiday. One scenario that makes sense includes sending the Suns’ protected 2019 1st, Warren, and Okobo. Ryan Anderson’s contract could also work here, too, if more draft capital was needed.
Unless Phoenix is smitten on pairing two Kentucky Wildcats together, moving all-in for Davis doesn’t make much sense. Is sacrificing another 7-plus years of team control for Ayton worth 1.5 years of Davis? No, it isn’t since he would leave in 2020 anyways, but acquiring Davis’ teammate is a different story.
With Booker on the verge of sitting through four straight seasons where he doesn’t even reach 25 wins, there needs to be some urgency to retool correctly around him. In Year 7, Davis finally had enough of the losing with little improvements around him. It’s on the Suns to avoid crossing this bridge with Booker down the line, and it all relies on them doing what the Pelicans couldn’t since 2012.
How should the Suns maneuver the Anthony Davis situation?
This poll is closed
Go all-in for Davis using Ayton and picks
Inquire about Jrue Holiday right now
Do nothing and wait until the offseason