As was fully demonstrated at the trade deadline in February, the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans certainly aren’t guaranteed to be able to come together and make a deal for Anthony Davis before the 2019 NBA Draft. These things can fall apart quickly, and negotiations can get acrimonious in an instant.
With that noted, it certainly seems as if the two sides are slowly progressing closer to a potential deal. There may be some within the Pelicans who still don’t want to trade Davis to the Lakers, but new lead executive David Griffin is at least picking up the phone for L.A., among other teams, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
New Orleans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has started to provide potential suitors with the framework of the package that he is seeking in a trade for All-NBA forward Anthony Davis, including multi-team scenarios that would expand the Pelicans’ pool of assets in a deal, league sources told ESPN.
Wojnarowski adds that “Griffin has offered teams no firm timetable on needing a completed deal, but he has indicated that he prefers the acquisition of 2019 draft picks be completed days prior to the June 20 event,” which makes sense, since it would allow the Pelicans to work out players in the No. 3 and 4 range, where the Knicks and Lakers are picking.
Additionally, Wojnarowski gave us the first definitive details of what Griffin is looking for in such a deal, and it’s a lot:
Griffin is pursuing a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks, league sources said. Those wants are on a sliding scale. For example, the better the player, the softer the asks on the draft picks -- and vice versa.
Depending on how one views the Lakers assets, it’s not quite clear if L.A. can get there. Is Brandon Ingram “an All-Star player,” if looked at extremely optimistically based on how he played for parts of last year? Or would he be considered “a young player with All-Star potential”? Would Lonzo Ball? The Lakers are at least set in the first-round picks department, with the No. 4 choice in this year’s draft, and future picks, so maybe they could tilt the sliding scale that way.
Plus, the specifics of what the Lakers have are not a reason to worry yet anyway. The Lakers still likely have the best combination of assets of the teams in the Davis race, and they don’t necessarily have to meet Griffin’s exact demands. They just have to outbid the other teams bidding against them. Plus, negotiations always start by demanding more than one person thinks they can get, and then meeting in the middle.
If the Lakers can actually get a Davis deal done by the draft, it would allow them to use the allure of playing with Davis and LeBron James to appeal to another star free agent, depending on what they were forced to take back from New Orleans in a deal. They’re in a strong negotiating position with a lot to gain, and now they just have to make sure negotiations don’t get as contentious and public as last time. So far, both sides seem to be proceeding more professionally to make sure that happens. We’ll see if that results in a deal this time around.
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