B/R NBA Experts Give Their Best Anthony Davis Trade Offers

Bleacher Report NBA StaffFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 09: Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts before a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Smoothie King Center on April 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Anthony Davis noise continues to dominate the NBA, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the New Orleans Pelicans are officially listening. 

Stadium @Stadium

BREAKING: David Griffin and the #Pelicans have begun listening to teams about potential trade including Anthony Davis, per our insider @ShamsCharania. https://t.co/nXAg8It2uS

With executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin accepting the inevitable and changing his tune, Bleacher Report asked nine NBA writers to propose the best deal eight different teams can offer New Orleans. 


New York Knicks receive: Anthony Davis

New Orleans Pelicans receive: No. 3 overall, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Allonzo Trier, Frank Ntilikina, Lance Thomas, 2021 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick   

The Knicks have to make an offer for Davis without any assurances that they'll sign multiple stars in free agency. Even if they land Kevin Durant, he alone won't be enough to carry the current young core through the playoffs.

New York shouldn't feel reluctant to include the No. 3 pick (presumably RJ Barrett) and Kevin Knox, since there is no level of certainty tied to either. Both have question marks. And assuming the plan is to immediately start competing by adding Davis, the Knicks should be OK including one or even multiple future first-rounders.

Depending on the Knicks' leverage, which will be determined by the competing offers New Orleans receives, New York should also be willing to throw in Allonzo Trier, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. With regard to Smith and Ntilikina, the Knicks would ideally want a more reliable, veteran point guard to play with Davis, anyway. New Orleans would be looking at a package featuring No. 3 overall, Knox, Smith, Trier, Ntilikina and picks.

It would get tricky if New Orleans asks for Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks have to draw the line at some point. Robinson flashed elite defensive potential that could be extremely valuable, particularly on a rookie deal.

The Knicks can counter with No. 3 overall, Robinson and a future first-rounder, but offering their entire chest of assets for one player (who's never won) wouldn't be recommended.


Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans Receive: Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, 2019 No. 4 pick

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: The opening tip-off between Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers on February 27, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackno
Chris Elise/Getty Images

The Lakers' package for Davis only has to be good enough to beat out other suitors'. The Knicks may be willing to include everyone on their roster, but can they beat out the Lakers in terms of desirable talent? Not if the Pelicans value players like Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart (perhaps with Moritz Wagner and Isaac Bonga) over others like Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr.

Unlike former executive Earvin "Magic" Johnson at the trade deadline, the Lakers don't intend on bidding against themselves. The hiring of assistant coach Jason Kidd suggests if there's one young player the team intends to hold onto, it's Lonzo Ball.

The Lakers are very fond of Kyle Kuzma, so he becomes a variable here. But Johnson didn't have the No. 4 pick to offer in February, which should dramatically improve the quality of a Lakers bid.


(Alternate) Lakers receive: Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill

Pelicans receive: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, the No. 4 pick 

In February, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers were "offering multiple young players, including Ball, Ingram and Kuzma, as well as draft picks and salary-cap relief to the Pelicans," in exchange for Davis. That deal obviously didn't happen, and a lot has changed in the last four months, but that deal is still generally possible.

For one, we now know that the Lakers have the No. 4 pick in what may only be a three-player draft. That asset may have a little less value now, though the Lakers did jump up seven spots in the lottery. And now Ingram and Ball come with potential injury risk that wasn't as apparent back then.

But the Lakers still have the space to help the Pelicans shed Solomon Hill's salary. And Ball alone might be the most intriguing prospect New Orleans is offered. Coach Alvin Gentry is high on the idea of a Ball/Jrue Holiday pairing, according to Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune (via ESPN Los Angeles). And it's not tough to see why. Ball possesses a unique combination of size, defense, passing and rebounding for his position. If his shot comes along, he and Holiday could be a position-less backcourt that causes opponents problems on both ends.


Boston Celtics Receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans Receive: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, 2019 No. 14 pick, 2019 No. 22 pick

It feels like the Celtics have been the team linked to Davis longest, which means we've heard every possible permutation of a trade between Boston and New Orleans over the last year or so. There's no mystery about the prospective pieces in a deal, at least as far as the principal assets are concerned.

To get something done, Boston would have to surrender Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and a couple of first-rounders. Let's just peg this year's No. 14 and No. 22 picks to be specific. That package may not be better than what the Lakers can offer, but it's nothing to sneeze at.

While sketching out trade parameters isn't complicated, the decision from Boston's perspective on whether to offer anything at all is fraught. So much depends on Kyrie Irving's decision in free agency. If he bolts, would it mean Davis is a certain one-year rental? And if that's the case, should the Celtics so quickly surrender their most valuable young pieces? In a worst-case scenario, the Celtics could find themselves without AD, Irving, Brown, Tatum and Smart in the summer of 2020. And given last season's chemistry and leadership issues, it's hard to be certain the Celtics would want Irving back at all.

The Toronto Raptors gave up assets for just one guaranteed year of Kawhi Leonard, but that was an entirely different situation—one that shouldn't guide Boston's thinking now. The Raptors surrendered DeMar DeRozan (playing on a bad contract), Jakob Poeltl and what they knew would be a late first-rounder. If Leonard leaves, it'll merely trigger the rebuild Toronto was planning anyway. Davis ditching Boston after just one season would be far different and far more damaging to the Celtics' long-term plans.

Tread lightly, Celtics.


L.A. Clippers Receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans Receive: Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell, Jerome Robinson, 2020 first-round pick (lottery-protected via PHI), 2021 first-round pick (unprotected via MIA), 2023 first-round pick (lottery-protected via LAC)

Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

The Clippers are already expected to be major players in this summer's free agency. Imagine what having Davis as the face of their recruiting efforts could do.

L.A. has to be careful not to completely empty the cupboard of young players given that Davis is under contract for just one more year. The Clips have done a masterful job of putting together a competitive roster while still stockpiling draft picks and young talent.

Instead, the Clippers should offer a package based heavily on draft picks while keeping star rookie backcourt Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet, if possible.

Three first-round picks should get the Pelicans' attention, while Danilo Gallinari (19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 43.3 percent from three), Montrezl Harrell (16.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 61.5 percent from the field) and Jerome Robinson (13th overall pick in 2018) help the Pelicans stay competitive now and for years to come.


Toronto Raptors Receive: Anthony Davis, E'Twaun Moore, 2019 second (via DEN), 2020 second (via MIL)

Pelicans Receive: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, 2020 first (TOR)*

The Toronto Raptors are a dark-horse contender in the arms race to acquire Davis and probably won't involve themselves at all. They are knotted up at one game apiece in the NBA Finals and Kevin Durant is out for Game 3 and possibly longer, so they have a legitimate chance to win the series. However, should the Raptors fall just shy, reinforcing their lineup with the addition of Davis could ensure Kawhi Leonard's return and ultimately carry them across the championship threshold.

It would be a calculated risk to move on from Pascal Siakam for potentially just one year of AD. Leonard may seek heavenly pastures in the City of Angels anyway, so it probably makes more sense for the Raptors to send out the expiring contracts of Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka and build from scratch around Siakam.

But we've seen Masai Ujiri play with fire before.

If Leonard stays and the Raptors execute this trade for Davis, they would trot out an opening day lineup of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Leonard, Davis and Marc Gasol with Fred VanVleet and E'Twaun Moore off the bench to add some shooting. Including Moore in the deal gives them some cap relief over Norman Powell, who still has three years and $32.6 million remaining on his deal. They'll need any wiggle room they can get to re-sign Danny Green and round out their roster.

The prize of this package is Siakam, but OG Anunoby and Powell give the Pelicans solid depth on the wing where they have struggled to find contributors, Ibaka gives the Pelicans a win-now center to play alongside Zion, and the Pelicans even walk away with future first-round capital.

*Raptors' 2020 draft pick can't be traded until after the 2019 draft. 


Brooklyn Nets Receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans Receive: Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, No. 15 pick (selected by Nets), 2020 first-round pick (top-four protection)

Order of events matters in the Nets' presumed pursuit of Davis. They will have the cap space to swallow his entire salary, but the amount of money they send out must vary depending on whether they still plan to make a splash in free agency.

Working in Allen Crabbe's expiring deal would enable them to easily broker a dollar-for-dollar trade that wouldn't crimp their spending power. Getting the Pelicans to take him on would also be a big ask, albeit not totally unreasonable if they're looking to push a deal through before the draft.

Something along these lines feels more realistic.

This deal costs the Nets a little over $11 million in cap space. They'd still have a line to over $19 million in room while carrying D'Angelo Russell's free-agency hold, with an outside chance of carving out max money by negotiating a Crabbe salary dump.

One idea: Flipping him, the No. 27 pick and, if necessary, No. 31 to the Cavaliers for JR Smith's partially guaranteed contract ($3.9 million). That'd arm them with the flexibility to acquire Davis, re-sign Russell and go after another star free agent.

Expanding their package to meet higher demands from New Orleans might throw this idea out the window. The Nets have other assets to entice the Pelicans (Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa), but mortgaging their asset base any further risks disenchanting Davis ahead of his own free agency in 2020.


Denver Nuggets receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive: Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, Michael Porter Jr., two future first-round picks

The Nuggets, fresh off their first playoff appearance in six years and earning the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, are in a unique position: They could run back one of the best young rosters in the NBA for another year of growth, or they could cash in some of those pieces for a one-year rental on Davis and still be in a good position if he doesn't stay.

Pairing Davis with Nikola Jokic would give them the deadliest frontcourt in the league, and hanging onto young guard Jamal Murray would ensure the roster is not one-dimensional. If Davis leaves, they would still have the Jokic-Murray nucleus to build around and be well-positioned to stay in the playoff mix for years to come. With a great coach in Michael Malone, a talented young roster and a strong culture, they'd have a strong case to present to Davis that he should stay around long-term.

For the Pelicans, this deal makes a lot of sense as well. They would get a proven starting guard in Gary Harris to pair with Jrue Holiday in the backcourt as well as a nice bench piece in Malik Beasley. They'd take a flier on Michael Porter Jr., who missed his entire rookie season with a back injury but still has some upside if he can stay healthy going forward. This deal would make them competitive right away with Zion Williamson and go a long way toward ensuring they won't squander his prime the way they did Davis'.


Philadelphia 76ers receive: Anthony Davis

Pelicans receive: Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, 2019 No. 34 pick

No one else is offering a talent like Ben Simmons. Nitpick his non-jumper all you want; just realize that's the only part of his game open for criticism.

His defensive malleability allows him to check positions 1-4, or even the 5 spot in a pinch. His offensive weaponry as a 6'10" floor general is every bit as absurd as you'd think. He opened his career by averaging 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in both his first and second seasons. Oscar Robertson is the only other player to do that.

Slot Simmons alongside Zion Williamson, and New Orleans would have a pair of walking mismatches, both 22 years old or younger. Add Zhaire Smith to the mix, and the Big Easy would have bounce like we haven't seen since Lob City's peak.

As for the Sixers, they just took huge risks for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris—think they wouldn't roll the dice on a real-life Monstar?

Davis is 26 years old with a higher career player efficiency rating than anyone not named LeBron James or Michael Jordan. Pair Davis with Joel Embiid, and you might've just written Chapter 1 of the Association's post-small-ball era.