With just 24 hours and some change to go before the NBA trade deadline, with some moves having already been made, teams are positioning themselves to either make a transformative trade — as the Los Angeles Lakers would by landing Anthony Davis — or make smaller moves for what will be a grueling and competitive stretch run (see Bullock, Reggie).
Other teams might be looking at some of the deals that could be in play and seeing an opportunity to help their cause by helping a monster deal make more sense. In his latest piece, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer mentions the Phoenix Suns as one example of such a team:
If New Orleans wants more than that, there are also rumblings that the Suns could emerge as a third team for Ball—much to his father’s delight—possibly with T.J. Warren and a young player going to the Pelicans. However, a source with knowledge of the trade discussions said the Ball family’s desires have no bearing on how the Lakers or Pelicans will approach negotiations.
Before we get to the assets and how this might change a Davis trade, consider me shocked that the Lakers nor the Suns or Pelicans could care less what a rambling father has to say about, well, anything. Moving on.
While Warren is obviously an interesting piece who has played fairly well this season, the best way for Phoenix to ensure a three-way trade gets done will likely be through draft compensation. Despite whatever LaVar Ball says about how the Lakers have done too much losing, it’s Phoenix who finds itself looking up at the rest of the league and will likely hold a high enough draft pick to entice New Orleans to make a deal.
Hoping for Phoenix to offer up an unprotected first is probably too much to hope for, but if they can find draft protection (say, top 5 or 10) that New Orleans would also be comfortable with, a trade might really make some sense here for all parties.
The issue with the package the Lakers are trying to offer New Orleans for Davis is that, well, it’s a bunch of middling pieces with no bonafide grand-slam piece heading to New Orleans. All the draft picks the Lakers are offering are probably going to be in the 20s, and the value of the young core right now might be as low as it’s ever been.
The Lakers’ offers are basically a ton of quantity over quality, and would likely leave New Orleans in a place where they are doomed to even longer stretches of mediocrity than they’ve had to this point in franchise history, making them too good to truly tank but too bad to do anything meaningful.
A draft pick going from Phoenix to New Orleans gives them a potentially better chance at a drafting someone they might consider more likely to develop into a star than Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma or any of the Lakers’ younger players who would be heading their way in a potential Davis trade.
Maybe New Orleans is higher on Warren than they are about a draft pick. Maybe they’re higher on him than any of the young Lakers. Maybe all this is a ton of posturing as preparation or stalling before a franchise-altering decision has to be made. No matter what it is, buckle up. These next 24 hours are going to be insane.