When the news broke Saturday night that Anthony Davis is reportedly heading to the Los Angeles Lakers, it of course also had major ramifications for the Celtics.
The Pelicans have agreed to a deal to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks – including the No. 4 overall in 2019 Draft, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 15, 2019
The fact that Davis definitely isn’t coming to Boston could play a major role in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford’s upcoming decisions. It could also affect what the Celtics do with their three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft.
Here’s how Celtics reporters reacted to the news that Davis is likely teaming up with LeBron James.
Boston Globe reporter Adam Himmelsbach noted that the Celtics will likely pull back and build around their young core, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as their centerpieces. According to a league source, Himmelsbach said, the Celtics never felt like a deal for Davis was close as discussions unfolded this past week.
“The Celtics had spent years planning for their Anthony Davis moment, but in the end he will be joining one of their biggest rivals instead,” Himmelsbach wrote.
Bottom line, per sources, is this: The Celtics knew that if they lost Kyrie after 2 years, the bounty they gave up to get him would not cripple them long-term, and If AD left after one, the bounty they would have had to give up would have crippled them long-term.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 15, 2019
Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, told Sports Illustrated that Davis would only be a one-year rental for the Celtics if he went there. In the end, that distinction ended up being a potential deal-ruiner, as the Celtics opted not to give up a player the Pelicans wanted in Tatum after hearing that caveat.
Jay King, who covers the Celtics for The Athletic, pointed out that the Celtics have had to adjust their long-term vision many times and will, in all likelihood, have to continue to do so.
There it is. Anthony Davis goes somewhere else. The Celtics are now on to plan (insert letter somewhere down the alphabet). https://t.co/858TcAGRuX
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) June 15, 2019
MassLive beat writer Tom Westerholm highlighted the importance of the fact that Davis would have only been interested in one year in Boston.
And one more thing: If AD was signaling that he was interested in staying with the Celtics, you trade everything for him even if Kyrie walks. That obviously was not the case.
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) June 15, 2019
Westerholm followed up in his column, noting that giving up Brown and Tatum wouldn’t have been worth it in the circumstances.
“As soon as Davis made it clear he would sign with the Lakers in free agency, the Celtics understandably couldn’t stomach giving up their young wings for a player who would have been a major flight risk.”
Boston Globe reporter Gary Washburn shared how much he believes this trade will affect Brown and Tatum both short term and long term.
Have a feeling the Celtics' younger core. — Brown and Tatum — are breathing a sigh of relief tonight and both feel confident they can lead the franchise to the next level with or without Kyrie.
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 16, 2019
Washburn elaborated in a Sunday article reacting to the trade news.
“What Davis’ absence does for the Celtics is ensure that Tatum and Brown will be the franchise cornerstones barring an unexpected deal for another superstar,” Washburn explained.
The cost of a possible trade for Davis, in his opinion, meant the talks never got off the ground.
“So the deal died before it could even develop into a Twitter rumor and the Celtics move forward with most of the younger core of their roster returning,” Washburn wrote.
Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald speculated that even if the Celtics had entertained the notion of including players like Tatum, Los Angeles likely still would have held the better offer given the array of draft picks involved.
“When the Lakers backed up their truck and unloaded a payload of players and first-round picks onto the Pelicans’ dock,” Bulpett wrote, “there was perhaps no way the Celtics would be willing to hamstring their future by dealing three first-round picks and allowing for other potential exchanges of draft position.”
Globe reporter Chad Finn poked fun at himself, referencing a column he wrote that was published Friday, in which he said the Celtics should “go all in” for Davis. “Never wanted him anyway!” Finn tweeted Saturday night.