The NBA trade rumors concerning Anthony Davis seem to take a new turn just about every day, and on Thursday they’ve finally taken a fairly predictable one: Davis is basically saying that he won’t re-sign with any team but the Los Angeles Lakers.
Davis and agent Rich Paul have been expected to tell teams that Davis prefers to be dealt to the Lakers, and it appears that they’re starting to (essentially) do exactly that, according to Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Davis’ plan is to treat any trade destination as a one-year stop -- except, of course, the Lakers. Teams are learning that Davis’ stated intention will be to play the season elsewhere if traded outside of the Lakers, but move to the Lakers as a free agent in 2020.
If those two news-breakers — about as reliable of names as exist in NBA journalism — are saying that Davis’ plan is to “treat any trade destination as a one-year stop,” then there really is no reason to believe that he and his agent aren’t telling teams exactly that (even if they aren’t being as bold in doing so on the record this time, likely in an attempt to avoid another fine).
And even if Wojnarowski and Lowe are reporting that the Boston Celtics aren’t scared off by these tactics and that the Pelicans won’t even take the Lakers’ calls right now, all of this is likely posturing on at least some level.
The Celtics may be telling the Pelicans to “hold off” on trading Davis until Boston can make a bid, but it is one thing to do that when the summer seems so far away, and another to actually outbid the Lakers by including Jason Tatum and their entire war chest of assets when Davis and his camp are telling you they won’t re-sign.
And if things get closer to the Feb. 7 trade deadline and the Pelicans aren’t sure that Boston or the New York Knicks will have the assets (or willingness) to outbid the Lakers, then they may be forced to look out for themselves and do a deal, even if they and the rest of the league are salty about the Lakers’ thirst for stars.
What is worth remembering right now is that in negotiation after negotiation, Paul has gotten what his clients want, getting contentious contract negotiations done for Eric Bledsoe with the Phoenix Suns after threatening that Bledsoe would sign the qualifying offer, and getting a new deal for Tristan Thompson with the Cleveland Cavaliers after an extended holdout. Klutch Sports doesn’t back down from doing whatever it takes to get what they want.
This is a bigger war against more determined opposition than ever, but Paul — and by extension, LeBron James — are unafraid to throw their weight around, and have never shown a propensity to blink. It would probably be unwise for the Pelicans or Celtics to think they’ll start now, which is why this latest update in this seemingly endless saga is the closest indicator yet that Davis will get his wish, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. Eventually, Paul’s clients always have, and now that he and Davis have dropped this latest Thanos-like snap of their fingers in an attempt to dissolve Davis’ suitors in half, the Celtics can posture and the Pelicans can not take phone calls if they want.
They can dread it, they can run from it, but eventually, destiny still arrives just the same.