Every NBA Team's Best Offseason Trade Offer for Anthony Davis
If you take Anthony Davis at his word, the stuck-in-New-Orleans superstar has a list of possible landing spots attached to his trade request.
It's only three words long: anywhere but here.
"All 29 other teams are on my list," Davis said on an NBA TV appearance in February.
Granted, that's probably a quote worth taking with several tons of salt. But it got us thinking—if the 29 other teams truly had access to AD, what would be their strongest play to bring him on board?
Since the trade deadline has long passed, this conversation shifts to the summer and gets a little complicated as a result. With so many unanswered questions about how 2019 free agency will shake out, everyone's summer roster paints an incomplete picture.
So, we're not going to concern ourselves with salary-matching swaps, since there's no way of knowing which salaries will be on the books. Rather, we'll focus on the primary pieces involved in each potential offer. We're not including free-agents-to-be wherever possible—a couple gutted rosters won't allow that—but those holding player or team options are fair game.
In addition to assembling these offers, we're also ranking them based on their strength and appeal to the Pelicans. The following six tiers will walk you through which clubs are nowhere close to a competitive offer all the way to those holding the strongest of the bunch.
Not Even Close
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Trade Package: Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo, two future second-round picks
Adams offers rock-solid contributions as a screener, rebounder and paint protector. Ferguson is rounding into three-and-D form. Diallo's energy and explosiveness help him perk up a game. But there's zero star power in this package.
28. Charlotte Hornets
Trade Package: Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, Nicolas Batum, 2019 first-round pick
No one has a bleaker future than the Hornets, and it shows in the weakness of this package. Any juice from the pick is canceled out by the major money still owed to Batum, and other than some highlight hammers, there's nothing exciting about these prospects.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers
Trade Package: Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, future first-round pick
This doesn't seem bad on paper since Love is a five-time All-Star, Sexton isn't a year removed from being a top-10 selection, and the first-round pick is coming from an obvious rebuilder.
But with Love's bloated salary and scary injury history, he might not have any trade value. Sexton has yet to answer questions surrounding his inefficiency and underwhelming playmaking. That pick could be years from conveying, since Cleveland's 2019 first is owed to the Atlanta Hawks with top-10 protection for this summer and next. As a glue-guy-in-training, Osman is more sweetener than centerpiece.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves
Trade Package: Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, 2019 first-round pick
Wiggins is a former No. 1 pick with the athletic abilities to prove it. The Wolves paid him for potential, have watched him plateau (or regress) as a limited volume scorer since and now have one of the worst contracts in basketball as a result. Unless New Orleans thinks Wiggins could help at the gate, it might view him more as a detriment than an asset.
If that's the case, this trade package quickly falls apart. Covington and Saric are fine, but probably nothing beyond that. While this could be a lottery pick, it'll likely land near the tail end and should have some protection for the chance that it doesn't.
25. Houston Rockets
Trade Package: Clint Capela, PJ Tucker, three future first-round picks
The Rockets will sacrifice plenty of picks for a star, but Houston's high floor saps some of the selections' appeal. Capela is (at least) a top-10 center, but his game is more complementary than New Orleans probably wants for its Davis replacement. Assuming the Pelicans want nothing to do with Eric Gordon after his messy exit from the Bayou, Tucker joins the offer instead and perhaps gets flipped in a separate swap.
24. Indiana Pacers
Trade Package: Myles Turner, Aaron Holiday, TJ Leaf, 2019 first-round pick
This probably looks low if you're still buying Turner as a future star, but it feels right if you see him more as an elite defender who fills a supporting role on offense. Intriguing as the 22-year-old's blend of shot-blocking and three-point sniping may be, we can only get so excited about a fourth-year pro who has yet to average even 15 points.
Holiday and Leaf join the offer as maybe-there's-something-interesting-here fliers, and the pick probably lands in the mid-20s. That's three chances to find something extra, but none is particularly attractive.
23. Golden State Warriors
Trade Package: Draymond Green, Jordan Bell, 2019 first-round pick, future first-round pick
As good as Green is for the Warriors, his impact wouldn't be the same away from their system. Bell, an upcoming restricted free agent, has some interesting attributes, but none that have prevented a sophomore slump. Unless Golden State's dynastic run derails in the near future, the picks will land at or near the end of the opening round.
A For Effort, But Not Enough
22. Orlando Magic
Trade Package: Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Mohamed Bamba, 2019 first-round pick
There are two ways for New Orleans to move this offer up the list. First, the Pellies believe Jrue Holiday is their star, so they're OK with Gordon being a high-priced sidekick. Second, they see star potential in Gordon, Bamba and/or Fultz and therefore believe this package plots out their post-AD blueprint.
If neither of those are true, though, the Pelicans are probably discouraged by the lack of elite upside. Orlando likely puts lottery protection (or at least top-10 protection) on that pick, and it might still be as interesting as anything New Orleans adds here.
21. Milwaukee Bucks
Trade Package: Khris Middleton, Donte DiVincenzo, D.J. Wilson
Middleton, who'll surely decline his $13 million player option for next season, broke out in 2017-18 (20.1 points per game) and followed up by making his All-Star debut in February. He's not elite in any particular area, but he's above-average in most and really good in some.
Wilson and DiVincenzo would arrive as 23-and-under scratch tickets. Neither has accomplished much early in their NBA careers, but they're gifted athletes with promising potential attached to their versatility.
20. Utah Jazz
Trade Package: Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum
This feels like the kind of offer both fanbases hate. New Orleans fans will say it's nowhere near enough. Utah fans might argue that Gobert is untouchable, and the Jazz front office clearly has a fondness for the oft-injured Exum.
But if the Pelicans want to revamp their 23rd-ranked defense, teaming Gobert and Exum with Jrue Holiday would give them tremendous upside at that end.
19. Detroit Pistons
Trade Package: Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard, 2019 first-round pick
Drummond is a two-time All-Star playing the best basketball of his career. He could be reasonably billed as a centerpiece, even if his offensive arsenal is lacking.
Kennard had a quiet rookie campaign, but he's usually productive when given an opportunity and lights-out from long range. And while the Pistons appear headed for the postseason, this pick shouldn't fall too far out of the lottery.
18. Dallas Mavericks
Trade Package: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Mavs have mostly cleaned their slate going forward, so it's tough to tell what they'd put on the table. It seems almost impossible that they'd move Porzingis already, but he's the closest thing to a "reasonable" centerpiece since Luka Doncic is untouchable and they've already parted with three first-round picks.
If Porzingis was healthy, you might have a top-five offer. He's not, so this falls just inside the top 20 instead.
17. Portland Trail Blazers
Trade Package: CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons
The Pelicans might conclude that bottoming out is impossible in their market. If they do, that'd up the attraction to McCollum, a 20-point scorer with slippery handles and a sure shot from distance, and Nurkic, a double-double machine and slick-passing 7-footer. Plus, New Orleans still gets a pinch of upside with Simons, a 19-year-old who landed 24th in last summer's opening round.
16. Denver Nuggets
Trade Package: Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, future first-round pick
The Pelicans have had one of the NBA's worst wing rotations for years. This overhauls that completely and perhaps turns it into a good one if Porter ever approaches his full potential. Harris and Beasley expand the three-and-D collection, while Morris gives New Orleans a legitimate reserve floor general. This is intriguing, even while accounting for all the unknowns with Porter.
15. Toronto Raptors
Trade Package: Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, future first-round pick
Siakam isn't a counting-category standout, but his across-the-board contributions should get him a few All-Star nods over his career. He's a problem for opposing teams if he's making his jump shots, and the same holds true for Anunoby, a 21-year-old who has a shot at becoming the league's next great wing defender. Ibaka helps New Orleans now, and that future first will come in handy later.
14. Brooklyn Nets
Trade Package: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, 2019 first-round pick
The Nets probably can't keep their three shot-creators forever. While they seemingly tabbed Dinwiddie as a fixture by extending him in December, he's still the likeliest candidate for our purposes. D'Angelo Russell can't be included as a restricted-free-agent-to-be, and Caris LeVert might have too many injuries in his past to anchor a major exchange.
A Dinwiddie-Holiday backcourt would be loaded with length and versatility. Allen would be a plug-and-play screening partner for the attacking guards now and maybe a top-five-or-better center down the line. Harris is a sniper, and those are always useful. This probably won't be a lottery pick, but it should wind up just beyond it.
These Would Make Pelicans Think
13. Miami Heat
Trade Package: Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, 2019 first-round pick
The perpetually forward-thinking Heat don't have many long-term assets, but ESPN's Zach Lowe said if they lumped them all together, it could make a "compelling" offer to New Orleans.
There might not be a star here, but Winslow, Richardson and Adebayo can all be plugged in as two-way contributors. Winslow's usage as a jumbo point guard is fascinating—he paces the Heat with 4.3 assists—Richardson keeps pushing the boundaries of his three-and-D label, and Adebayo might have the highest ceiling of all as a do-it-all defender with more offensive skills than he's been able to show.
12. Sacramento Kings
Trade Package: Marvin Bagley III, Harrison Barnes, Bogdan Bogdanovic, two 2019 second-round picks
The lack of a first-rounder might kill this offer's appeal to some, but Sacramento's counter is that few packages will have a prospect of Bagley's caliber. Even if history hates the fact he went ahead of Luka Doncic, that has plenty more to do with the latter than the former. When Bagley steps out of his shell, his potential looks almost limitless. His per-36-minute marks are an impressive 20.6 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Barnes' primary function in the swap is matching money, but he could be a fan favorite to a franchise that needs more of them. His resume includes an NBA title, a pair of seasons averaging more than 18 points and participation in the dunk contest. Bogdanovic is above-average in a lot of different areas and the kind of player who could help New Orleans compete sooner rather than later.
11. Washington Wizards
Trade Package: Bradley Beal, Troy Brown Jr.
While the Pelicans aren't getting an established superstar in return for Davis, Beal is pretty close to the next-best thing. The 25-year-old has made two All-Star appearances and is posting personal bests in almost every category, including points (26.2), assists (5.6), steals (1.5) and player efficiency rating (21.0).
That almost makes Beal untouchable, but the Wizards could soften that stance for a player of Davis' ilk. Brown has barely broken an NBA sweat, but he still intrigues as a versatile 19-year-old with smarts and a sharp eye for passing.
10. San Antonio Spurs
Trade Package: DeMar DeRozan, Lonnie Walker, 2019 first-round pick
This would scratch a similar itch as the Beal deal. DeRozan is both a notable name and a star-level producer. He's one of only eight players to score at least 10,000 points since the start of 2013-14, and he's become a prolific passer the past two seasons (5.6 assists). He could give the Pelicans their post-Davis focal point on offense and at the front gate.
Walker is a mystery, and the pick will probably be a dart throw in the 20s, but New Orleans needs future assets, and those meet that threshold.
The Silver-Medal Tier
9. Memphis Grizzlies
Trade Package: Jaren Jackson Jr., Kyle Anderson, Avery Bradley, future first-round pick
Jackson is 19 years old (and will be until September!) and already the most important player in Memphis. He's everything you need in a modern big man. On defense, he can protect the paint and handle perimeter switches. On offense, he can space the floor, make plays off the bounce and rock the rim.
The Grizzlies would be super hesitant to give up Jackson, but there is no deal for Davis without Jackson's inclusion. Anderson and Bradley are fine—assuming New Orleans even wants to pay the latter's partially guaranteed $13 million salary for next season—but nothing more than that. The pick could eventually have value, but it can't move until the Grizzlies pay their draft debt to the Celtics first.
8. Los Angeles Lakers
Trade Package: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, 2019 first-round pick, future first-round pick
Because the Lakers kept busy bidding against themselves, they've already put their best offer on the table. Back in February, they were willing to move everything listed here, plus Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. The fact Davis isn't with the Lakers yet probably says everything you need to know about their chances of getting him this summer.
"I have been told that there's no way Anthony Davis is coming here, through the Pelicans," ESPN's Marc J. Spears said, via NBC Sports' Dan Feldman. "They're just not going to do it."
Still, this is a strong offer from a basketball sense, even if you're not convinced any of the outgoing players is a future star. Kuzma and Ingram are both nearing 20 points per game, Ball offsets some of his shooting woes with strong rebounding and distributing marks, and the picks give the Pelicans additional chances to find something interesting.
7. Phoenix Suns
Trade Package: Deandre Ayton, TJ Warren, Josh Jackson, future first-round pick
Between 2000-01 and 2017-18, just two rookies averaged at least 16 points and 10 rebounds: Blake Griffin and Karl-Anthony Towns. Ayton is on his way to joining that exclusive company, and the 20-year-old might end up another annual All-Star. He's already a dominant force on the interior, he's growing as a defender, and he has more shooting range than Phoenix has asked him to show.
Warren gets buckets in his sleep (career 18.7 points per 36 minutes), and his pleasantly surprising addition of a three-ball (77 makes in 43 games, 42.8 percent) shows the 25-year-old can still expand his arsenal. Jackson, the No. 4 pick in 2017, has the physical tools to become the defensive menace many thought he could be. The pick, coming from Milwaukee, almost surely will convey in 2020.
6. Los Angeles Clippers
Trade Package: Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Montrezl Harrell, two future first-round picks
It was only a matter of time before Jerry West positioned the Clippers to make major moves. L.A. has the trade chips to land a superstar like Davis, plus the cap space to sign another one this summer. Maybe that's why we've heard Davis would be open to a long-term commitment with the Clips, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.
This offer has just about everything. Gilgeous-Alexander could be New Orleans' floor general of the future (and present) and form a disruptive backcourt with Holiday. Gallinari adds a second featured scorer to Alvin Gentry's offense. Harrell is making dramatic strides for the third consecutive season. And the draft considerations would be highly attractive with the inclusion of Miami's unprotected 2021 first-rounder.
5. Atlanta Hawks
Trade Package: John Collins, Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore, 2019 first-round pick
Collins is either the best player you've never heard of or the best player you don't talk about enough. He's on pace to become just the 17th player to average 19 points and nine rebounds before turning 22. He has effortless bounce around the basket, making him an asset on both putbacks and pick-and-rolls. He started launching triples this season and is already up to 36.7 percent outside.
Now, take Collins and combine him with an early 2019 pick—either Atlanta's own or Dallas' top-five protected—and you're giving New Orleans a ton to think about. Prince is less exciting now than he would've been a year ago, but he still checks off multiple boxes at both ends of the floor. Bazemore is partly a money-matcher, but for the wing-starved Peliies, he's also a sizable upgrade.
4. New York Knicks
Trade Package: Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, 2019 first-round pick
The Knicks reportedly made Davis' short list, and it's obvious the market appeals to him.
"It's a great franchise, playing in the Garden, the city," Davis said, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.
It isn't hard to imagine New York's offer would be appealing to New Orleans, provided the Knicks avoid disaster at the draft lottery. If they climb to No. 1, they might be in the driver's seat, since Zion Williamson might top everything on the market. But even if they don't, they could discover the Pelicans are big fans of RJ Barrett, Ja Morant or another top prospect.
As long as the pick anchors the offer, then the players can form a strong supporting cast. Each was a top-10 selection in one of the past two drafts. Knox and Ntilikina would give New Orleans loads of length and athleticism on the perimeter. Smith could make for a relentless backcourt partner for Holiday as a downhill attacker and capable drive-and-kick creator.
3. Chicago Bulls
Trade Package: Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, 2019 first-round pick
The Pelicans' primary focus in a Davis deal is landing "a young player ... who has the potential to become an All-NBA performer," per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Markkanen and LaVine might both fit that bill, plus there's a 12.5-percent chance that pick becomes this summer's first overall. That's quite the mammoth offer.
LaVine has effectively erased concerns about his post-ACL recovery, hitting career-highs of 23.8 points, 4.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 46.7 percent shooting. Five players hit those marks last season; four were All-NBA selections, and the fifth would've been if not for an Achilles rupture (DeMarcus Cousins).
Markkanen is averaging better than 18 points, eight boards and two triples. Only nine other players have previously done that. Eight have been All-NBA selections; the ninth, Antoine Walker, was a three-time All-Star.
There are legitimate questions of whether Chicago would offer this much, especially when there are whispers Davis doesn't want to play for his hometown team. But if the Bulls decide to gamble, they'd hold one of the strongest hands at the table.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Trade Package: Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, 2019 second-round pick
Throughout the course of NBA history, only one player has averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists over his first and second seasons: Hall of Fame stat-sheet stuffer Oscar Robertson. That number is about to double thanks to Simmons, who might be the best individual trade chip reasonably connected to the Davis discussion, as PhillyVoice's Kyle Neubeck wrote:
"He does almost anything you could ask him to do. He has scheme-changing potential as a defender, where he can be weaponized routinely from 1-4 and in smaller doses as a nominal big. He is unselfish, which is reflected by his tendency to pass but also by his willingness to take on different assignments each night for Philadelphia. The accumulated numbers so far have been staggering."
Simmons is a 6'10" floor general. You never see that. Even if he never expands his scoring range, he could still be a generational talent. Oh, and he's 22 years old. Granted, those are probably all reasons Philly might prefer to just keep him, but if this bold front office has an eye for Davis, Simmons could be its golden ticket.
Smith and the second-rounder are sweeteners. Smith is an explosive athlete who doesn't turn 20 until June. The second-round pick is coming from Chicago, meaning it functions as almost a late-first.
1. Boston Celtics
Trade Package: Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, two first-round picks
The biggest incentive for the Pelicans to keep Davis past the deadline was to ensure the Celtics could place their bid. Boston has as many trade chips as anyone, and reportedly made clear it would have an "explosive package" ready and "that no specific player will be off limits in negotiations," sources told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
That's almost certainly a long-winded way of saying that the prized youngster, Tatum, would be made available, which even he understands.
The 21-year-old looks like an All-Star in training, his potential best captured in last year's Kyrie Irving-less breakout, when Tatum grabbed the offensive reins and delivered 18.5 points on 47.5 percent shooting. Tatum might not be meeting the most optimistic expectations for his sophomore season, but he has elevated his counting categories across the board.
If the Celtics are willing to move Tatum, they'd probably give the Pelicans relatively free rein to pick their favorites from Boston's mountain of assets. This particular arrangement, though, keeps Jaylen Brown with the Shamrocks, while instead shipping out a former All-Star in Hayward, a dogged defender in Smart and two first-round picks from its expansive collection.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.