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Anthony Davis prefers to be traded to Lakers or Knicks, Celtics still reportedly pursuing him anyway

It sounds like Anthony Davis has his mind made up on where he wants to go — the the Lakers or Knicks — but the Celtics are still leaking that they want to go after him whether they lose Kyrie Irving or not.

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Graphic via Grant Goldberg / Silver Screen and Roll

We learned on Monday morning that the Los Angeles Lakers had re-engaged with the New Orleans Pelicans about a possible trade for Anthony Davis, and that they weren’t alone in trying to acquire the All-Star forward.

But while other teams may want to go after Davis and hope they can convince him to stay, it sounds like he has a better idea of where he wants to be than ever before, as according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Davis has narrowed his choices down to the Knicks or Lakers:

Several teams have expressed interest in Davis, including the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, league sources told The Athletic. Davis submitted a four-team preferred destinations list to the Pelicans in February, featuring the Lakers, Knicks, Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, but it is believed that list has been narrowed in focus.

Davis is now focused on the Lakers and Knicks as the two desired long-term destinations, league sources told The Athletic. Davis has not given Griffin or the Pelicans a new formal list. He will be a free agent in 2020.

That determination to get to those big markets has not stopped the Celtics — or at least that’s what they’re claiming — as against all odds or logic, they apparently think they could get Davis to stay whether they keep Kyrie Irving or not, according to Charania:

Several teams — including the Celtics — are aggressive about pursuing Davis understanding they would potentially lose him after one season, when he is set to become a free agent. The Celtics want to pursue Davis and believe in their roster with or without Kyrie Irving, league sources said. For Griffin and the Pelicans, the market for Davis could open even more after free agency begins, when the teams pursuing top free agents miss out on their targets.

That... doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially when considering that to this point, the Celtics have not shown an inclination to include Jayson Tatum in such a deal, and without him it’s pretty unclear how they could outbid the Lakers. Even if that stance from Danny Ainge and Co. is altered, it’s not really obvious what about the Celtics’ leftovers would convince Davis to stay long-term if Irving and Tatum are both gone.

Maybe Irving surprises everyone and re-signs, or maybe the Celtics just really believe in their culture, but that level of belief would seem to be foolhardy in the face of so many facts pointing the opposite direction, which makes it more likely that this is just a leverage ploy to attempt to get the Lakers to up their offers rather than a real threat. Charania’s point about waiting for free agency is also possible, but it could also take some suitors off the table if they fill up their cap space, so it’s a potentially double-edged sword as far as negotiations go.

But anyway, if Ainge wants to pony up and offer his entire young core for a player who seems incredibly unlikely to stay and would likely just walk to the Lakers, that’s his prerogative, and would frankly be hilarious to watch. Until we hear that he is, though, it’s probably best to just continue proceeding with the understanding that the Lakers can pretty clearly outbid just about any of Davis’ other suitors right now, no matter who is leaked to be interested in him.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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