Anthony Davis has informed the New Orleans Pelicans that the New York Knicks are one of four teams he would be willing to sign with for the long term if he is dealt before Thursday’s trade deadline, according to a person with knowledge of his intentions who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Davis, one of the league’s superstars in his seventh season in New Orleans, is the biggest name in play in advance of the deadline. He requested to be traded Jan. 28, with the Los Angeles Lakers pushing hardest to get a deal done.
The Lakers, along with the Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, are Davis’ preferred trade destinations as he seeks a new home on a team that already has an established star or a path to acquiring multiple stars, according to the person, who was not permitted to discuss the plans publicly.
The list of teams, though, is clearly topped by the Lakers. It was first reported Monday by The Athletic and ESPN.
It is believed that the list of teams was given to the Pelicans in hopes of increasing the chances Davis is dealt this week. New Orleans has considerable incentive to delay trading Davis until closer to the draft in June, when the Boston Celtics — who are not on the list but have the biggest cache of trade assets for Davis — are eligible to trade for him.
While Kyrie Irving is on the Celtics’ roster, Boston cannot trade for Davis since both he and Irving are under maximum rookie scale contract extensions. League rules only allow teams to have one such player on their rosters.
ESPN has reported that the Celtics are urging the Pelicans to hold onto Davis until after the season to give them an opportunity to top the Lakers’ best offer, which is expected to feature the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as well as future first-round draft picks.
Even with the Lakers seemingly established as Davis’ most likely landing spot, the Knicks’ presence on the list provides a glimmer of hope in what has been a difficult season, especially over the past week, for Knicks fans. As The Times first reported, the Knicks traded their star forward, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks last week in a move that appears largely aimed at clearing cap space to make way for high-profile free agents this summer.
Yet with the worst record in the league (10-42), and after years of dysfunction, the Knicks cannot be certain they will pique the interest of any of the notable players expected to be free agents this summer, such as Kevin Durant, Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
Trading for Davis is realistically only possible if the Knicks win the draft lottery in May and are then willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick to New Orleans for the draft in June. But the Knicks will hope that Davis’ interest and the mere prospect of trading for him can make them a more attractive destination for the league’s top free agents.
Though he has missed New Orleans’ last seven games with a finger injury, Davis is in the midst of another outstanding season. In 41 games, he is averaging career highs in points (29.3), rebounds (13.3) and assists (4.4) per game.