On Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Anthony Davis told the Pelicans that he would not be extending his contract with the team, and that he had requested to be traded. So put on your tinfoil hats, prepare your brain for its trip through the galaxy, and check out some of the weirdest trades the staff could think up.
The Lakers Trade for Anthony Davis and Sign Kyrie Irving
Justin Verrier: Follow me down the rabbit hole.
October 4, 2018: Days before the season begins, Irving tells Celtics season-ticket holders he plans on re-signing with Boston next summer. Kyrie isn’t the only one planning ahead. In the writeup on Irving’s verbal commitment, The Athletic reports that Irving and Davis, who formed a friendship during their time with Team USA, have already discussed “what it would be like to play together in Boston.”
Most of This Season: With the Celtics struggling to reach the heights expected of them, Irving begins IRL subtweeting his teammates, frequently. After a November loss in Dallas, Irving says the Celtics are “at that rock-bottom point where the team is about to blow up.” After a December win in Memphis, Irving reminds the media (and his teammates) that being an NBA player is a “full 24-hour job.” After a loss to Orlando in early January, Irving blames “experience” (i.e., Jayson Tatum).
Consciously or not, his leadership “style” is cribbed straight from the LeBron handbook.
January 16, 2019: Irving, virtually unprompted, reveals that he had to “call Bron” to apologize. Now that he’s the one tasked with supervising a bunch of 20-somethings, he says he understands James’s plight when he first rejoined the Cavs in 2014.
Kyrie Irving says he called LeBron James after the Celtics’ loss to the Magic to apologize for “being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips.” Naturally, there were a lot of follow-up q’s and he told us all to relax. pic.twitter.com/d4zeRKUbA5— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) January 17, 2019
James was reportedly at dinner with Kevin Love when the call came in.
January 25, 2019: In his latest solo sing-along, James croons the lyrics of Fetty Wap’s “Rewind” and tags Irving’s handle.
Why’d Bron tag Kyrie though pic.twitter.com/i7gQg7UPRm— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 25, 2019
The song was released ahead of the 2015-16 season, when James and Irving led Cleveland to a championship. (Oh, shit!) The song ends with the lyrics, “I know you’re with him now but soon you will be mine / If I could bring it back, I’ll probably press rewind.” (OH, SHIT!!!)
January 28: Anthony Davis, a good friend of Irving’s, informs the Pelicans that he will not sign a supermax extension and wants to be traded, per ESPN.
So, to recap: Kyrie Irving has reconciled with LeBron James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Anthony Davis shares an agency with James, and has asked for a trade at a time that indicates that he would like to play for the Lakers. (Boston, remember, can’t deal for AD until they renegotiate Irving’s deal.) The Celtics, despite all of those plum assets, are not as good as we all thought—and the cornerstones positioned around Irving are either aging, not aged enough, or not very good. So what’s to stop the Lakers from giving up everything they’ve got for Davis now—Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a first-round pick, cash, the number to Rob Pelinka’s tailor—and signing Irving when he opts out of his contract this summer? It’s far-fetched … but not that far-fetched.
The Pelicans Trade AD and Solomon Hill for Russell Westbrook and Nerlens Noel
Danny Chau: America’s best and most complicated city may only truly have room for one team in its heart, and it sure as hell is not the Pelicans. The pangs of the past two seasons of Saints heartbreak will likely reverberate long after AD has gone. This trade doesn’t do much to change the Pelicans’ trajectory, but it does offer a distraction. It’s unfair to the true fans in the city that, for the past six years, New Orleans’s primary basketball icon has been a large, humorless motor oil salesman. Westbrook is still one of the most electrifying players in the league, and has enough “Fuck You” energy to power both the Smoothie King Center and the Superdome for the next four years. He can be a true avatar for the city. It’s not enough, I know, but it’s something.
The Heat Trade Everybody for AD
Chris Grismer: Given the risk of Davis walking in July 2020, it’s fair to assume that teams would be reluctant to surrender multiple first-round draft picks to earn the Brow’s services. In Miami’s case, the Heat already owe their unprotected 2021 first-round pick to Philadelphia. What they have to offer instead are three young assets: Justise Winslow, a newly made point guard who is locked up through 2021 (with a team option for the following season); Bam Adebayo, an explosive, multifaceted big who is in only the second year of his rookie deal; and Derrick Jones Jr., whom the team has molded into an athletic, productive wing on a bargain-bin deal. If team president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg believe they can convince Davis to stay, throwing their 2022 first-round pick into the deal might further pique the Pelicans’ interest, who might bet on Davis leaving Miami, thus improving the pick’s value. Hassan Whiteside is involved simply for salary-matching purposes.
In the past two years, we’ve seen Jimmy Butler (twice), DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, Blake Griffin, and Kawhi Leonard—all All-Stars—traded to the other conference. If New Orleans general manager Dell Demps wants to keep the trend going, he’ll send Davis east, jump-starting the Pelicans’ rebuild with some youth and giving the Heat, a team built to win now, a boost into the upper tier of the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards Trade Two All-Stars for One
I don't see why this would give the Pelicans any pause. Nope, they should definitely do this. pic.twitter.com/uXEWIQOqQg— Miles Surrey (@HKSurrey) January 28, 2019
Who says no?
(The Pels say no, and Ernie Grunfeld crawls back into his cave adorned with several photos of MarShon and Dillon Brooks.)
The Knicks Keep Kristaps Porzingis and Trade for AD
Daniel Chin: The only scenario that doesn’t involve the Knicks trading away Kristaps Porzingis for Davis would require them to ship off an unprotected 2019 first-rounder, which would in turn mean parting ways with Knicks fans’ pipe dreams of Zion Williamson playing alongside Porzingis and upcoming free agent Kevin Durant. The Knicks have sacrificed yet another season to the basketball gods in hopes of winning the lottery, and it looks like for once, they might finally tank properly and jockey themselves into position to select a potentially generational talent. But with Davis now made available, it’s hard to resist the temptation to make an offer for an already proven superstar, rather than leaving fate to wherever the ping-pong balls land in the new lottery format.
A trade in which the Knicks deal their 2019 first-round pick, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Noah Vonleh for Davis—or a similar one that swaps in rookie Kevin Knox for Ntilikina or Vonleh—has the 2011 Melo deal written all over it. It would be a classic Knicks move, and despite what team president Steve Mills or GM Scott Perry have said in the past, I can definitely see the Knicks taking shortcuts to pair AD with KP in an attempt to create one of the most exciting frontcourts in league history. And as for the Pelicans, any chance at securing such a valuable pick would have to be considered, along with a solid return of a proven (albeit streaky and expensive) scorer in Tim Hardaway Jr., a 20-year-old defensive stopper in Ntilikina, and a revitalized former lottery pick in Vonleh.
As a Knicks fan, I hope the front office stays true to their word and chooses patience over the Knicks Now mentality that has plagued the franchise since the ’90s. But with the Knicks, you really never know.
The Four-Way Trade You Didn’t Know You Needed
Paolo Uggetti: Don’t mind me, I’m just on my third cup of coffee for the day.