Despite the warnings from Anthony Davis’s agent, the Celtics appear to be committed to landing the New Orleans Pelicans superstar.
And they’re in a race against their top NBA rival to make it happen.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday afternoon that both the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are engaged in renewed trade talks for Davis — with the Lakers using their fourth-overall draft pick as a trade chip to help the Pelicans get a “high-level player” in a multi-team deal. In a follow-up tweet, Wojnarowski clarified that the two teams “are trying to negotiate independent deals” for Davis.
“There’s no spirit of cooperation here,” he wrote. “The Lakers No. 4 pick would be used to acquire Davis in a multi-team deal that does NOT include Boston.”
To be clear, of course: The Celtics and Lakers are trying to negotiate independent deals with New Orleans for Anthony Davis. There's no spirit of cooperation here. The Lakers No. 4 pick would be used to acquire Davis in a multi-team deal that does NOT include Boston. https://t.co/C9NwYJiObX
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 12, 2019
The New York Times‘s Marc Stein reported that the Lakers have made Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, in addition to the fourth pick, available in their trade talks with the Pelicans, who he says hope to assemble a multi-team deal. According to the Los Angeles Times, a deal could hinge on whether the Lakers include Kyle Kuzma, who they do not want to trade.
It remains unclear what players or assets the Celtics have offered in their discussions with the Pelicans.
According to ESPN’s full report on the competing trade talks, New Orleans EVP of Basketball Operations David Griffin appears “intent” on getting a deal before before this year’s NBA Draft on June 20 (the Pelicans also have the first overall pick and are expected to take Duke phenom Zion Williamson).
As transcendent a player as Davis has shown he can be in his seven NBA seasons, trading for the six-time All Star could be a risk for the Celtics. The ESPN report comes just hours after Sport Illustrated published an article in which Davis’s agent Rich Paul (who is also the agent for Lakers star LeBron James) said that if Boston trades for the 26-year-old, “it’ll be for one year.” Davis’s father has also said his son doesn’t want to play for the Celtics.
“If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020,” Paul told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve stated that to them.”
Paul, who facilitated Davis’s trade demand this past winter, told SI that the All-NBA big man’s long term future lies with either the Lakers or the New York Knicks.
According to Wojnarowski, the Celtics view acquiring Davis as their best chance to keep Kyrie Irving as he heads toward free agency following a disappointing 2018-19 season. However, Griffin’s apparent June 20 draft day deadline, if true, could be a complicating factor for their efforts.
Due to NBA contract rules, the Celtics are not allowed to trade for Davis unless they first trade Irving or sign him to a new contract. The earliest they can do the latter is June 30 at 6 p.m., when NBA free agency officially begins. The two teams could, in theory, verbally agree before date, but if New Orleans waits until after July 1 to deal Davis they would to pay him an additional $4.1 million due to a 15-percent trade kicker in his contract.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Wednesday that Irving will not opt in to the final year of his Celtics contract, meaning he will become an unrestricted free agent when the offseason officially begins. Wojnarowski also reported Wednesday that Irving had talked about potentially joining Kevin Durant on the Knicks or Brooklyn Nets, though the discussions occurred before the Golden State Warriors forward ruptured his Achilles tendon Monday night during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.