The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are each engaged in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans regarding All-Star Anthony Davis, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst.
Los Angeles' top pick in the 2019 NBA draft (No. 4 overall) is among the pieces reportedly being discussed. Per the New York Times' Marc Stein, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have also been made available.
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
To be clear, of course: The Celtics and Lakers are trying to negotiate independent deals with New Orleans for Anthony Davis. There's no spirit of cooperation here. The Lakers No. 4 pick would be used to acquire Davis in a multi-team deal that does NOT include Boston. https://t.co/C9NwYJiObX
The Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli and Brad Turner reported the Lakers are hesitant to include 23-year-old forward Kyle Kuzma in a trade package. On the flip side, the Pelicans reportedly want Kuzma to be part of a potential return package.
Davis can become a free agent next summer if he declines his $28.8 million player option for 2020-21. His agent, Klutch Sports' Rich Paul, made it clear recently that his client intends to explore his market at that time.
"We're going into free agency," Paul told Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price. "... We're going into free agency. He has a year, he has to play. But after that, I can't say it no bigger: WE ARE GOING INTO FREE AGENCY. 2020: ANTHONY DAVIS WILL BE IN FREE AGENCY."
That's hardly surprising, given Davis and Paul made it clear to New Orleans in late January that he would not re-sign with the team. While that public declaration gave the club just more than one week to try to move the big man prior to the 2019 trade deadline, it opted to hold on to him.
But the Lakers made a run at him at the time.
Then-team president Magic Johnson made no secret about his pursuit of Davis, reportedly offering more than half of the roster to try to get a deal done. Outside of four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, there did not appear to be any untouchable on the Lakers roster.
The trade deadline fiasco, which featured numerous leaks, wound up costing former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps his job. Johnson has since stepped down in L.A., providing somewhat of a fresh start for the two clubs.
Boston, meanwhile, was unable to make a run at Davis back in February because both he and Kyrie Irving were on designated rookie extensions. With Irving becoming a free agent this summer, that opens the door for the Celtics to pursue Davis—and landing him could help the team re-sign Irving, as Wojnarowski noted:
For Danny Ainge and Co., though, it's buyer beware. Not only has Davis' father let it be known he doesn't want his son playing for the Celtics, but Paul was blunt in saying it would essentially be a rental.
"They can trade for him, but it'll be for one year," Paul told Price of a potential Celtics trade. "I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I've stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don't blame Rich Paul."
Paul acknowledged Davis would fulfill his contractual obligation if he was traded to Boston, but he did not offer a long-term commitment.