NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Lakers, Celtics' Pursuit of Anthony Davis

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 13, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, smiles as he walks past New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The NBA trade rumor mill is predictably roaring into life ahead of next Thursday's draft.

While most teams are hoping to add their next franchise face, a few are angling to bring in an established one—the only single-browed centerpiece in the business.

The New Orleans Pelicans could be close to finding a new home for Anthony Davis, some five-plus months after he requested one. The latest Brow buzz is compiled and analyzed below.


Los Angeles Lakers Make Their (Latest) Pitch

Remember how hot and heavy—and uncomfortably transparent—the Lakers' initial pursuit of Davis was? Well, it sounds like their interest is as strong as ever.

While the Lakers haven't made the same Godfather offer this time, some of the names involved remain the same. Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski their package "has been centered on guard Lonzo Ball and forward Brandon Ingram." The No. 4 pick in next week's draft is also in play, though not for New Orleans but rather a third team who could send "a high-level player" to the Pelicans in return.

Should the Lakers uncover the right player in a potential three-team deal, Marc Stein of the New York Times heard an agreement could come to fruition before Thursday's talent grab:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The Lakers' ability to seal a deal for Anthony Davis likely hinges on what the No. 4 pick can fetch. If the No. 4 pick can land a player to excite New Orleans, on top of Ingram and Ball, then the teams are headed for an agreement in principle before draft night next Thursday

Both Wojnarowski and Stein noted the Lakers are trying to retain Kyle Kuzma.

The scoring forward was reportedly one of multiple players involved in the original offer put on the table in February, when then-president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was running the show. Kuzma's 2,550 points are the 19th-most a player has scored over his first and second NBA seasons in the 2000s.

It makes sense for the Lakers to want to keep him, especially if they feel he'll be more like the three-point shooter he was as a rookie (36.6 percent) than as a sophomore (30.3). That said, the 23-year-old's ceiling probably isn't high enough they should keep him off the table if the Pelicans deem his inclusion necessary to get a deal done.

Davis, who can (and almost assuredly will) enter free agency in 2020, reportedly trimmed his list of preferred destinations to only the Lakers and New York Knicks, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. It'll be interesting to see what kind of leverage L.A. feels that might give it and how that could impact its approach to these ongoing discussions.


Boston Celtics Talking Davis, Too

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 10: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics and Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans talk after the game between the Celtics and Pelicans at TD Garden on December 10, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Gett
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It's no secret the Celtics have been enamored with Davis for quite some time. Given his pedigree—six-time All-Star, third-highest career player efficiency rating in NBA history—that's probably true of most teams.

What separates Boston from other Brow dreamers, though, is the organization's impressive asset collections. From rising prospects to established players to current and future draft picks, the Celtics could seemingly meet any asking price the Pelicans might have.

They're having their own discussions with New Orleans, per Wojnarowski, and "hope that can be a lure to keep All-Star guard Kyrie Irving from leaving in free agency."

Tempting as it may sound to add (or, in Irving's case, keep) a pair of in-prime All-Stars, that approach is not without its risks.

For starters, Davis reportedly has zero interest in a long-term future with the team. His agent, Rich Paul, recently told Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price that if the Celtics swing a trade for his client, it would only be a rental:

"They can trade for him, but it'll be for one year. 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."

That hasn't deterred Boston from shooting its shot, according to Wojnarowski. Given how well things have gone for the Toronto Raptors after their gamble on Kawhi Leonard, maybe that's a prudent approach.

That said, there's no reason to believe a year with Davis would change his attitude toward Boston. (It's also worth noting we have no idea what impact Toronto's success will have on Leonard's free agency.)

And the Irving part of the equation is just as unpredictable. As expected, he's foregoing his $21.3 million player option for free agency, per Charania. There's talk Irving could favor the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

So, if Irving is a flight risk and Davis is saying he'll be one next summer, the Celtics must think long and hard about the potential cost.

If a trade required the sacrifice of promising 21-year-old Jayson Tatum (and/or 22-year-old Jaylen Brown), they better be confident about changing Davis' tune over the next 12 months.