• Cameron Tabatabaie

The Pursuit of AD: Dark Horse Candidates


The NBA universe is awash with Anthony Davis trade rumors. This should come as no surprise. After all, the league’s two most accomplished franchises - the Lakers and the Celtics - are widely believed to be pursuing the All-Star big man.

There’s plenty of reason to think that this time next season, Davis will be in either Los Angeles or Boston. He may very well remain in New Orleans as well.

Still, there are 27 other teams in the league. No doubt they’ve all pondered an Anthony Davis trade package. And as it turns out, there are a few clubs that could very well find themselves in the AD sweepstakes.

Milwaukee Bucks

Sports Illustrated

Teams that win at the highest level in the NBA usually feature not just one generational talent, but multiple elite players. However great Giannis Antetokounmpo may become, what if he’s still not enough to take the Bucks to the promise land on his own? And what if instead of surrounding the Greek Freak with the right pieces, the Bucks go out and finding him a true running mate?

Between Shaq and Kobe, D-Wade and LeBron, Curry and Durant, we’ve seen MVP-caliber players win together at the highest level. Pairing Giannis with a player like Anthony Davis would be an immense - but not unprecedented - move for Milwaukee.

To further move the needle, the same drama and constant speculation surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans could be a very real future for Milwaukee in the near future. The small-market Bucks need to do everything possible to prove to Giannis he can win with the organization that drafted him.

Milwaukee does have some interesting pieces. Kris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon continue to improve, and would constitute the sort of young talent New Orleans would demand. The Bucks have already shipped out their first-round picks for the next few years, however.

Pairing Giannis with Davis would be positively frightening. Milwaukee would have to dig deep to come up with the right trade offer, but apparently Giannis thinks it’s a great idea.

“Come to the Bucks, man,” Antetokounmpo told Davis recently “Come to the Bucks.”

Chicago Bulls

NBA.com

Parting ways with Anthony Davis is an incredibly difficult sell for the Pelicans. New Orleans consistently struggles with ticket sales and attendance. Losing the team’s lone superstar would be a big problem for a small-market team like the Pelicans.

As such, trading Davis for a package composed of talented players and future assets isn’t good enough. New Orleans will need a star to immediately replace AD.

The Bulls are on a collision course for a top pick in next season’s draft. There’s a not-insignificant chance Chicago ends up with the No. 1 selection and a chance to take Duke’s Zion WIlliamson.

Sure, the current Bulls team is far from competitive. But the team has some really exciting young pieces. Perhaps the organization believes bringing in Chicago-native Anthony Davis would be the perfect move.

This deal would require a few more working parts, but would be a win-win for both clubs. New Orleans could earn itself another half-decade at least of exciting basketball by landing one of the NBA’s best young players. Chicago, meanwhile, could fast-track its rebuild in a big way.

San Antonio Spurs

The Bird Writes

Any team angling to trade for Anthony Davis before he becomes a free agent needs to feel reasonably confident that they can convince AD to re-sign long-term. Much to the chagrin of the New Orleans front office, it appears Davis knows what he wants.

If Davis is truly concerned by legacy, there is no finer place for him to spend the prime of his career than down in San Antonio. Under head coach Gregg Popovich, AD would have a chance to flourish amid basketball royalty.

The Spurs know how to maximize the talent and the longevity of superstar big men. That much is true. Likewise, San Antonio has enough pieces to actually tempt New Orleans outright.

There will be a moment this summer when Davis turns down the Pelicans’ super-max contract extension. At that time, the team will immediately begin to search for trade partners. Should New Orleans chose to work with AD in finding him the right new home, he and his team would be wise to push for the one place in the NBA that knows how to win championships best.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Edwardsville Intelligencer

Perhaps Davis’ legacy is bigger than basketball. It’s not crazy that one of the top players in the league would search for the brightest lights. And fewer spots on the NBA map can compete with the City of Angels.

The Clippers seem hell-bent on signing Kawhi Leonard this summer. LA’s second-team desperately wants itself a superstar. Right now the club is a collection of talented veteran players and up-and-comers, but without a central star. They’re one move away, no doubt.

Being one move away is an exciting place to be as a loaded off-season approaches. But it also means the Clippers are armed to the teeth with players and assets that could be used in a blockbuster trade. And Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the type of young piece the Pelicans will demand alongside established talent.

There’s a universe where Klutch Sports dominates Los Angeles. LeBron and Co. in purple and gold on a Friday night before Davis and the Clippers take the court the following evening. It makes business sense. It makes basketball sense. (And it makes sense for the Pelicans.)

Brooklyn Nets

New York Post

Davis may be destined for a big NBA market to bolster his legacy, but unfortunately for AD, some otherwise desirable destinations may be off the table. Miami doesn’t quite have the assets to get a deal done, Houston is already a little too bloated, and the Knicks are, well, the Knicks.

But what about Brooklyn?

Since leaving New Jersey, the Nets have been a disaster. For the first time in a while, Brooklyn’s future actually looks bright. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has his young players playing well, inadvertently showcasing their potential for the world to see.

Like the Bulls, the Nets are a team full of lovable, high-upside players that could be used to swing a deal with the Pelicans. Likewise, Brooklyn has a few extra draft picks to add to the pile. The team doesn’t necessarily have the kind of star player New Orleans might be after, but the Nets certainly have the ammo to build a serious trade package.

When Kyrie Irving demanded a trade from Cleveland, the team granted his wish in sending him to one of his prefered destinations. However on the other side of the coin, Uncle Dennis couldn’t help Kawhi Leonard from ending up in frigid Toronto.

We don’t know how the Anthony Davis saga will pan out, and how cooperative he and the Pelicans will be in future trade talks. Hold on to your butts.

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