Pelicans should wait until this summer to trade Anthony Davis

Multiple suitors will drive up bidding price

Seth Dunlap
January 31, 2019 - 7:49 pm

With news that the Los Angeles Lakers have put at last five different trade packages on the table for Pelicans' star forward Anthony Davis, their message is clear -- the Lakers are willing to send everything they can to the Pelicans now in order to head off a summer bidding war for Davis' services.

The Lakers are also coyly leaking their summer plans to the media that indicate they won't be in full pursuit of Davis this summer when the Celtics, and other teams, inevitably enter the sweepstakes.  Don't believe those leaks and reports -- the Lakers, LeBron James, and Magic Johnson are fully invested in bringing Davis to Los Angeles in time for the 2019-20 season, before James turns 35.   In fact, Johnson has flaunted his bravado publicly in saying he plans to have the Lakers ready to contend for titles by next season.  That's highly unlikely to happen without Davis in the fold.  

News of the New York Knicks' surprising blockbuster trade of Kristaps Porzingis also has ripple effects towards the Pelicans and their plans with Davis.  The Knicks now have the salary cap space, although perhaps not the wealth of current assets, to become a contender for Davis this summer.   Perhaps even the Mavericks, who landed Porzingis in today's trade, are looking to create their own "superteam" and could enter the Davis bidding war.

None of this is to say the Lakers haven't made any serious offers to the Pelicans.  According to reports, Los Angeles is prepared to offer Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, plus multiple first round picks for Davis.  Apparently no player, other than James, is off the table in a possible deal either.   Those are offers the Pelicans should seriously consider.  However, the reasons they should wait until the summer to pull the trigger on any Lakers' offer is straightforward, and two pronged.

First, if the Lakers are willing to sell the farm now to bring in Davis, well, that almost certainly means they'll be willing to do the same in July.  Don't believe any reports that suggest the Lakers would back out of trying to lure Davis if he isn't in Los Angeles by February 7th.   LeBron isn't getting any younger, and next season could provide a serious championship window for the Lakers, should they add a star or two to an already competitive group.  

Secondly, current Pelicans' general manager Dell Demps cannot be allowed to orchestrate any trade of Davis.  Demps became a lame duck general manager the minute Davis, through his agent Rich Paul, notified the Pelicans front office that he wouldn't re-sign in New Orleans and requested a trade.   The Pelicans almost certainly are already in the process of beginning a search for Demps' eventual successor, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Demps stay on through the trade deadline to facilitate any trades of other players on this roster while being relieved of his duties shortly thereafter.  In fact, it would be a malfeasance of responsibility by those in charge of the Pelicans franchise if Demps stays on to execute any Davis deal.

The path forward for the Pelicans is clear.  Hold off on trading Anthony Davis until this summer, when multiple new suitors will enter the market for his services.  This will also allow the team's new general manager to execute the trade they feel best about, while beginning to rebuild the Pelicans' roster to their liking.  Patience, especially in the NBA, is often an underappreciated virtue.  

You can hear Seth Dunlap on "The Last Lap" every weeknight from 8-11 p.m. CT on WWL Radio!


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