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Rich Paul confirms that he warned the Celtics that Anthony Davis won’t stay with them if they trade for him

It was previously inferred that Anthony Davis wouldn’t have a whole lot of interest in staying with the Boston Celtics when his dad trashed the team’s handling of the Isaiah Thomas situation, and now Rich Paul has confirmed that his client would be a rental if Danny Ainge dealt for him.

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Klutch 2019 All Star Weekend Dinner Photo by Dominique Oliveto/Getty Images for Klutch Sports Group 2019 All Star Weekend

Anthony Davis really doesn’t seem to want to be a Boston Celtic (as even hid dad will tell you), and his agent, Rich Paul, is doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Tough, tough look for our guy Danny Ainge. You really hate to see this.

In an incredible and fascinating piece, Paul told S.L. Price of Sports Illustrated about where things currently stand with his client as it pertains to Boston and, well, man you just hate to hear such things about such an upstanding organization that railroaded Isaiah Thomas and is almost definitely going to pin all its shortcomings on Kyrie Irving when he leaves:

“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul says. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”

I love this song.

Now, look, maybe Ainge will call what he considers Davis’ bluff. He’ll point to Kevin Garnett as an example of him turning around a player’s perception after having played for Boston, to which Davis and his representation can just hold up a picture of Irving.

There’s also a pretty noticeable difference here between Garnett and Davis: Garnett entered his time with Boston with another additional year on his contract. Garnett also went on to win his first and only title in Boston, something that undoubtedly swayed him on the franchise.

Garnett would go on to retire a Boston Celtic, having never played for any other team for the rest of his illustrious career.

Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Oh. Except the Nets (and later Timberwolves, again). My bad.

Maybe Davis wins a title and he and Irving both sign on long term, allowing Ainge’s gamble to pay off. With Durant likely out next season and Kawhi Leonard’s decision still very much up in the air, it’s not completely out of the question as a scenario. But is it a gamble Ainge will be willing to make?

So much of being an executive in the NBA is about pitting risk against job security. If Ainge, after acquiring the vast treasure trove of assets we’ve heard about over the last few seasons, turns that into one year of Davis and potentially no title appearances having already lost Irving and the cost of prized prospect Jayson Tatum and everything else it might cost to land Davis, does he survive that? Does he want to find out?

If the answer to those questions (especially the second) is “no,” then this is all really moot. So long as Ainge isn’t willing to come close to the Lakers’ offer of one of Brandon Ingram/Lonzo Ball, the No. 4 pick in next week’s draft, another future first and some combination of more of the Lakers’ youth, Boston really doesn’t factor into the conversation.

Davis’ promise (by way of Paul) is dependent on all kinds of variables that can change over the course of a year. We have already seen Davis stick by his guns in New Orleans, though, despite their landing of Zion Williamson. Maybe Ainge thinks Davis is really bluffing this time. But based on the lack of reporting on any serious offers from Boston to New Orleans since their seasons ended, he doesn’t seem interested in paying to find out.

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