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Kyrie Irving recruiting Anthony Davis to Celtics, Lakers still a favorite

The Celtics reportedly have the inside track on Anthony Davis, which could all but take the Lakers out of the AD sweepstakes.

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NBA All-Star Game 2018 Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

After six seasons with the Pelicans, Anthony Davis could look to force out of his way out of New Orleans if the team underperforms again this season. The Los Angeles Lakers are well-positioned to acquire the 25-year-old via trade next summer, but they’ll face some stiff competition from a familiar rival, the Boston Celtics.

According to a report by Jay King of The Athletic, the Lakers and the Celtics are favorites to land David if he requests a trade from New Orleans in the near future but Boston has an inside track to the former No. 1 overall pick through Kyrie Irving.

Several league sources have said they believe Davis could end up either with the Celtics or Lakers if the Pelicans were to move him. If he landed with the Celtics, he’d be reunited with former Team USA teammate Irving. The two have already spoken about what it would be like to play together in Boston, according to a league source.

Irving verbally committed to re-signing with the Celtics at a season-ticket holder event on Thursday. Irving will be eligible for a five-year max contract next summer and according Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving is looking for a long-term commitment.

Getting that long-term commitment from Irving allows the Celtics to plan for the future and their plans could include pairing Davis with Irving. But could the Lakers outbid the Celtics in a hypothetical bidding war? In short, probably not.

Over the past few years, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has built a mini treasure chest of assets, which includes a possible three first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, two of which are projected to be lottery picks.

They also have a pair of rising stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, either of whom could be the centerpiece of a trade package for Davis along with a future draft pick. While a lot can change in a year, Brown and Tatum are more sure things than anyone not named LeBron James on the Lakers’ roster.

The one thing the Celtics do have going against them, though, is their salary cap outlook. Irving (player option), Al Horford (player option) and Terry Rozier (qualifying offer) are all up eligible for new contracts next summer and they won’t come cheap in a market where several teams are expected to have cap space. The Lakers, who are projected to have $38 million in cap space, will be one of those teams.

In order to acquire Davis in a trade before the 2019-20 season, the Celtics would have to let Horford walk or include one of Marcus Smart or Gordon Hayward in a trade. The Lakers can trade for Davis without matching salaries outright.

With the Celtics in the running for Davis, the dream of pairing James with another generational talent in Davis seems less likely, but as Celtics legend Kevin Garnett once said, anything is possible. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.