Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Anthony Davis trade-rumor season has officially commenced.
Agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the New Orleans Pelicans have been informed that Davis has no intention of signing a contract extension with the organization and wishes to be traded. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Davis already had conversations with teammates about the decision.
Davis is eligible for a supermax extension, which would pay him around $240 million over five seasons. If the Pelicans move on from their franchise big man, he would no longer be eligible for supermax status. He can become a free agent in the summer of 2020.
“Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” Paul told Wojnarowski.
The idea that Davis would want to move on comes as little surprise. His departure has been the subject of speculation for years, and the rumor mill ramped up when he signed with Paul—the agent for LeBron James.
Paul did not specify a team in his interview with Wojnarowski. The only detail Paul offered was that Davis wants to be part of a contender—something the Pelicans are definitively not.
New Orleans is currently 22-28, good for 13th place in the Western Conference. Jrue Holiday has emerged as an All-Star player next to Davis, but Pelicans management has failed time and again to build a proper supporting cast. They’ve traded away first-round picks at will, missed on the players they did draft and sometimes traded guys who eventually became hits (Buddy Hield).
The organization’s all-in move came during the 2016-17 season, when the Pels traded for DeMarcus Cousins. Boogie promptly tore his Achilles after playing just 65 games as a Pelican, and the team allowed him to walk this summer in free agency.
The Pelicans have made the playoffs just twice in Davis’ career.
He told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in December:
“I’d take legacy over money. I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time.”
On the bright side, there will be no shortage of suitors available for the game’s most coveted trade asset. The Lakers and Boston Celtics have bright young players and draft picks at the ready. Boston can probably build the most enticing trade package, but that depends on the team’s willingness to include Jayson Tatum in talks.
Jaylen Brown has regressed this season and is no longer considered a can’t-miss blue-chip prospect around the league. The Celtics can also not make any trades until this summer because of league rules preventing teams from having two supermax contracts on their books. Kyrie Irving is currently on a supermax deal.
Scott D. Kushner of The Advocate reported he does not expect the Pelicans to trade Davis before the deadline for that reason.
Scott Kushner @ScottDKushner
The Davis trade talks will be the first true test of this team’s management structure.
Is there oversight from Mickey Loomis on trade talks? Will Dell Demps have the authority to make a move now, if the Pelicans plan to clean house in the offseason?
So much uncertainty.
The Lakers have a lot of young talent but no surefire future All-Stars. Like Brown, the shine has come off Brandon Ingram a bit this season. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart are also promising young players with their own shortcomings.
However, those two organizations do seem to have the best combination of assets and draft capital available. So it’s likely the Celtics-Lakers rivalry will be heating up once more—just this time behind the scenes rather than on the floor.