The NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline came and went Thursday without the Celtics making a big splash, but it was a successful afternoon for them anyway, because Anthony Davis did not go anywhere.
The Pelicans declined to trade their superstar forward, which instantly vaults the Celtics to the top of the next round of the Davis sweepstakes, which will unfold this summer. Boston was unable to trade for Davis now because teams can acquire only one player who has signed a designated player rookie extension, and Kyrie Irving already falls into that category. In July, Irving can opt out of the final year of his contract, and Boston at that point would be free to acquire Davis and also re-sign Irving. There would still be hurdles to overcome, of course.
The Celtics’ treasure chest of assets has lost some of its luster recently, and the coming months will be important in determining their value. And teams such as the Knicks will have a chance to strike gold in the draft lottery. Also, the Celtics and Pelicans still have plenty to negotiate. Boston is prepared to offer a massive package, but there is no telling whether the Pelicans will view it as adequate compensation for one of the game’s transcendent stars. Nevertheless, the Celtics will have a seat at the table, and that’s something they would not have had were Davis traded prior to the deadline.