On Monday morning, ESPN reported that Anthony Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, has told the Pelicans the All-Star big man does not intend to sign an extension with New Orleans this summer and would like a trade. The news was not surprising, but it may have come a bit earlier than some expected, and it definitely came earlier than the Celtics had hoped.
Boston will be one of many suitors for Davis. But NBA teams cannot trade for two players who have signed designated player rookie extensions, and the Celtics already traded for one in Kyrie Irving. So Boston would either have to wait until Irving opts out of his deal and becomes a free agent July 1 before making a move for Davis, or it would have to include Irving in the deal for Davis.
But the Celtics, with their unmatched collection of young players and draft assets, would be able to offer one of the most attractive packages for Davis. So it might not make sense for the Pelicans to end the sweepstakes so soon. Here are some important things to consider regarding the Celtics’ chances of landing one of the NBA’s transcendent talents.
Can the Celtics still make trade offers for Davis now?
Yes. This is not free agency, when a team must wait until the clock strikes midnight on July 1 to begin negotiating with players. No, the Celtics are not able to trade for Davis now. But there is nothing stopping them from reaching out to the Pelicans as often as they wish leading up to the Feb. 7 trade deadline and discussing potential deals that would not be finalized until the summer.
So can the Celtics and Pelicans just come to a verbal agreement?
They could, but that is quite unlikely because July is so far away. The deal would likely involve players with contract options for next season, injuries can happen, and the true value of draft picks is not known. Also, the Celtics are trying to win a championship now, too, and if details of specific talks emerge this soon, it could make things complicated in the locker room.
But the draft will take place before the Celtics can make the trade. How would the Pelicans be able to get the players they want?
It would not be much different from draft-day trades, which are common. If the Celtics agree to send draft picks to the Pelicans, the Pelicans would simply call the Celtics when those picks come up and tell them the players to select.
The difference is that unlike pick-swapping draft-day trades, which are officially executed later that night, this one would have to wait at least a few more days.
The one slightly unusual part about agreeing to a deal before it can be orchestrated is that the Celtics would not be able to have their doctors examine Davis, and the same would be true of any players Boston sent to New Orleans. The sides would just have their own doctors exchange information.
Would they just trade Irving if they had to?
On the surface, just about every team would choose Davis over Irving. But it is more complicated than that. First of all, there is a good chance Davis would not want to re-sign in Boston if Irving is not here. Also, and even more important, Irving will opt out of his deal at season’s end, and there is just about no chance he would re-sign with a floundering New Orleans team, so two months of Irving would not really have any value. The presence of a third team could make it slightly viable, but this deal is not going to happen.
So if the Celtics can’t get Davis now, what should they hope for in the short term?
They should hope for silence. If the Feb. 7 trade deadline comes and goes and Davis is still a member of the Pelicans, Boston probably would become the favorite to land Davis this summer.