The trade deadline may be over, but the Anthony Davis drama continues to swirl around the Boston Celtics in the aftermath of a demand to be dealt by the New Orleans Pelicans.
After reports circulated during trade deadline week that the Celtics were not on the list of preferred destinations (Knicks, Lakers, Bucks, Clippers) for his next team, Davis did his best attempt at damage control on Saturday afternoon at All-Star media availability after being asked directly about Boston.
“I never said they weren’t on my list,” Davis said.
Before Celtics fans got too excited about the development though, Davis further clarified his stance in an interview with NBATV on Saturday by opening the door to essentially everybody.
“All 29 teams are on my list,” Davis said. “I don’t have a preferred destination. I just want to win. Big market, small market, I don’t care. I want to win. Whatever team I get traded to, I’ll make the best of it, and then when free agency comes, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I can’t tell the future, but all 29 teams are on the list. I never gave a destination. Anthony Davis has never given a destination for where he wants to play.”
So what exactly is going on here? It’s hard not to see a game being played by Davis and his camp when it comes to his future. Three thoughts.
1. Davis saying he will play anywhere seems like a bit of favor to the Pelicans: If winning is the ultimate priority for Davis, it’s hard for him to honestly say that there are 29 other teams on his list. However, it’s important to keep in mind all of these comments from a Pelicans' perspective. They can’t deal Davis until the regular season ends now and the best way they can maximize their return for the All-Star is to drum up a bidding war. Having a preferred list of four teams surface when the majority of those squads simply don’t have the assets to get an appealing trade done is a nightmare scenario for New Orleans when it comes to maximizing value. The Knicks’ offer solely depends on a 14 percent chance they fare well in the lottery. The Bucks will still have nothing to deal this offseason (all of their top prospects are free agents), while the Clippers added a couple pieces to their stash (Landry Shamet, a couple future first round picks including 2021 Miami) in the Tobias Harris but still don’t have anything that could be a cornerstone piece for New Orleans.
The Lakers know they can outbid all of these teams this offseason in all likelihood, but as we saw at the trade deadline, they aren’t going to bid against themselves. Obviously, former general manager Dell Demps was counting on the Celtics emerging this summer as a bidder to help create a better return for Davis but coming off his initial list could bringing more suitors in the fray as well. Davis is talented enough where it could be worth any potential contender to roll the dice on him, even if it’s for just one year. Perhaps, a promising season or being won over by the culture (as Paul George was in Oklahoma City) can convince Davis to stay long-term. There’s no guarantee it will but these latest remarks open the door on that front and may convince other suitors to get into the bidding this summer.
2. From Boston’s standpoint, this should not change much of anything for them, since this is the attitude they were counting on from Davis for all along.