By now you’ve heard that Anthony Davis will not be signing a contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans.
That’s according to agent Rich Paul, who told the team that his 25-year-old client won’t be returning to NOLA, just like the Lombardi Trophy.
So the obvious thing here is to take a look at the situation and see if the Sixers can get involved, or if the resulting fallout means that a few other Pels will be available on the market.
I’ll start by saying that, one, I don’t think the Sixers are interested, and two, I don’t think an Anthony Davis/Joel Embiid pairing would work out as smoothly as everybody believes.
It’s true that those two guys would make for an outrageous defensive front court, and the Sixers really could use an upgrade at power forward, a position being occupied by a veteran who thought he was going to be a small forward coming off the bench this season. But this squad still needs perimeter defenders more than anything, and Embiid and Davis gives me a lot of hesitation on offense, especially since Brett Brown wants to spread it out and get up and down the floor with a non-shooting point guard. This offense is better suited to a stretch four who can space the floor and allow Joel to do his thing, versus another big who will overlap with Embiid’s skill set in a few different areas. I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, but you’d have integration problems in the same way you did with Jimmy Butler.
Anyway, the more realistic thing here, and the thing Sixers fans should be hoping for above all else, is that Davis is kept away from Boston. The Celtics and Lakers are two teams that would make a lot of sense for AD, with LeBron’s Rich Paul connection in Los Angeles and the fact that both teams are easier fits with more roster flex moving forward.
The complication for Boston is Kyrie Irving, who can’t be included in a possible trade offer because of the NBA’s Rose Rule.
The rule was added in 2011 and allows a player finishing his rookie contract to make 30 percent of a team’s salary cap, an increase from 25 percent, but only if he had twice been voted All-NBA, twice been voted an All-Star starter, or won an MVP award.
This guideline also mandates that a team is only allowed to have one player on their squad with that Rose Rule designation, and because Kyrie already fits the bill, the Celtics can’t trade for Davis until Irving opts out of his deal for next season to become a free agent.
It’s just easier for the Lakers to work a deal right now than the Celtics, so that’s good for you as a Sixers fan.
Beyond that, you can go over to the ESPN trade generator and try to make some deals work for AD, which may or may not be a useless exercise.
I’ll go down the list, briefly:
There’s no way you’re trading Joel Embiid for anybody.
If you trade Ben Simmons for Anthony Davis, who is your point guard? T.J. McConnell? An injured Markelle Fultz? Landry Shamet? I don’t understand why all of these Simmons scenarios keep coming up. I’ve never heard anything that makes me believe Elton Brand and Brett Brown would trade Ben Simmons. He’s playing his second NBA season and is a generational type of athletic talent. I think you’re better off trying to develop that talent instead of shipping him off somewhere else.
Plus, Simmons has the same agent as Davis and LeBron. If Rich Paul is trying to get his client OUT of New Orleans, how can he justify putting another client IN New Orleans?
It doesn’t add up.
Depends. What does New Orleans do here? Are they looking to completely rebuild? You could loop Butler into a Davis trade if the Pelicans decided to take on expiring and just blow it up and start over instead.
The more interesting wrinkle here is this:
If Davis ends up in Los Angeles, the east remains winnable for the next 2-3 years. Boston becomes a bit of a question mark depending on what Kyrie does, so maybe you offer Butler an extension because you see a path to the final. But if Davis ends up in Boston, maybe you let Butler walk, take the cap space, and refocus your team around Joel Embiid with a longer view instead.
A full Pelicans reset would bring Jrue Holiday into play, which is intriguing to me. Jrue right now has two more years on a contract that pays him $25 million a year, with a player option for 2021, per Spotrac:
The only way you could do Davis and Holiday in the same trade is to offer up Butler’s expiring contract, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and match via Wilson Chandler or JJ Redick’s one-year deal. Then you’d have a starting lineup of Embiid, Davis, Holiday, Redick/Chandler, and I guess Landry Shamet, but swinging 4 guys for 2 really kills your already-crappy depth at this point.
But say Davis goes to Los Angeles and New Orleans does decide to rebuild. In addition to Jrue at $25 million a year, here are some of the other guys on the roster:
- Nikola Mirotic: 27 years old, unrestricted free agent, earned $12 million this year (would actually fit very nicely on this Sixers team as a Dario Saric or Ersan Ilyasova type of stretch four, but his defense is what you would expect from this type of player)
- E’Twaun Moore: 29 years old, still has one more year at $8.6m on his contract, shooting pretty well this season
- Julius Randle: player option for next season, averaging 20 and 9 this year, only 24 years old
- Elfrid Payton: earned $3 million this year and will be an unrestricted free agent, you could do worse for a backup point guard
They’ve got some interesting pieces. Nothing that puts you over the top beyond Jrue and Anthony Davis, but I’m sure teams are doing their due diligence and trying to sniff around a bit. NOLA is an aging team and most of their guys are approaching 30, which certainly will influence what that front office wants to do.
Here’s what I think happens:
Anthony Davis goes to Los Angeles to team up with the LeBron. The Lakers send some combination of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and picks to New Orleans. The only thing making me think they wouldn’t do that is if New Orleans would rather send him to the east, but I think LA can offer just as much, if not more. Both teams can offer more than what the Sixers can offer right now, assuming the Pelicans aren’t gonna go into full tank mode.
If you’re a Sixers fan, I think you’re just hoping that Davis stays in the west. If he goes to Boston, things become complicated.