The New Orleans Pelicans may have an Anthony Davis trade offer from the Los Angeles Lakers on the table, but they would seemingly rather send him to the Boston Celtics.
ESPN's Rachel Nichols asked Brian Windhorst on Thursday's episode of The Jump if Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was using the Lakers' offer as leverage to gain more assets from the Celtics, and Windhorst said he believed that to be the case:
"I think it's a good sign that David Griffin is shopping the No. 4 pick. That at least means he's open to a deal with the Lakers. But I think all of this is a maneuver to draw as much as he possibly can out of the Celtics. They've preferred to deal with the Celtics since Dell Demps was the general manager. The Lakers' offers haven't changed that much. They have a higher pick, but they don't really have different players to offer. If he really wanted to make the Lakers deal, and he really wanted the draft pick, he would've already made the Lakers deal."
On Wednesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Celtics and Lakers were both engaged with the Pelicans in trade talks for Davis, and that the Lakers were offering the No. 4 pick, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram as the headlining pieces in their package.
Wojnarowski added the Pelicans were interested in potentially flipping the No. 4 pick to a third team for an established player. He also noted that the Lakers were trying to keep Kyle Kuzma out of the deal.
Meanwhile, Davis' agent, Rich Paul, said in no uncertain terms that the All-Star big man wouldn't sign a long-term extension with the Celtics, at least not before he became a free agent next summer.
"They can trade for him, but it'll be for one year," he told S.L Price of Sports Illustrated. "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."
Another complicating factor is the future of Kyrie Irving, with rumors continuing to link him to the Brooklyn Nets. How much should the Celtics be willing to give up for Davis if Irving doesn't commit to staying, especially since Davis could depart in 2020? Would the Celtics give up Jayson Tatum in such a scenario, sacrificing a potential future star for a one-year rental?
Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that the Celtics are "still determined" to trade for Davis despite Paul's comments, hoping his acquisition would also convince Irving to re-sign in Boston. However, the Celtics can't officially trade for Davis until Irving becomes a free agent on July 1.
It would be a major gamble, one that could result in the Celtics sacrificing some of their best future assets and ending up empty-handed in a year.
With talented young players like Tatum and Jaylen Brown and a pile of future first-round picks, the Celtics have the most appealing assets to offer New Orleans. The question remains just how much they'll be willing to gamble on an uncertain future with Davis.