Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 30.1
NO receives: Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valancuinas, OG Anunoby, Delon Wright, TOR 2021 1st round pick, TOR 2021 2nd round pick
TOR receives: Anthony Davis
If you thought the Raptors went all in this past summer when they traded DeMar Derozan for Kawhi Leonard, you were wrong. Making this deal would be going all in.
From the Pelicans perspective, are they getting enough in return? Let’s use coins as an analogy to break this down. Anthony Davis is an NBA dollar. Let’s call Jonas Valancuinas an NBA quarter. In real life, you can turn 4 quarters into a dollar. In the NBA, 4 NBA quarters does not equal an NBA dollar. The only way the Pelicans are going to get equal value in return for Anthony Davis is by acquiring another NBA dollar.
Now let’s look at the other teams around the NBA trying to make a move for Davis, according to Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer. The Lakers, Knicks, Bucks and the Nuggets. We’ll throw the Celtics in there as well. Boston can’t trade for Anthony Davis until the summer, but the Pelicans don’t have to trade AD before the trade deadline so if they think they can get more from the Celtics than they can from any other team, they’ll just wait.
We can easily eliminate 2 of 5 of these teams. Unless the Bucks give up Antetokoumpo, or the Nuggets give up Jokic, neither team can put together a package better than the one I’ve proposed. The Bucks could trade Middleton, Bledsoe draft picks and either Brogdon or Thon Maker. The Nuggets could put together a trade centered around Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, and either Michael Porter Jr. or Trey Lyles (the Pelicans would have to include Elfrid Payton to make it work). Neither of these trades the Bucks or Nuggets can offer gives the Pelicans a big man to replace Anthony Davis. The Raptors can give them two. You may think Middleton is better than Siakam but the latter is much younger. The Raptors have more to give to the Pelicans than the Bucks or the Nuggets do.
The Knicks, Lakers and Celtics can put together deals more appealing to the Pelicans than the Raptors can. The Knicks have their first round pick this summer, which could easily end up being number one overall. The Lakers can trade Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, while the Celtics can put together a deal around Jayson Tatum. If the Pelicans get a trade offer from the Knicks, Lakers, or Celtics involving the players and assets I just mentioned, then Anthony Davis won’t be a Raptor.
Let’s not forget, Anthony Davis will be a free agent next summer. Will the Knicks brass risk giving up Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett by trading away their first round pick when there’s a chance Davis will leave them next summer? Anthony Davis has already said he isn’t “keen” on the Celtics, would Danny Ainge trade away Jayson Tatum without a commitment from Anthony Davis to re-sign next summer? This really comes down to the Lakers and Raptors.
Both the Raptors and the Lakers will be trying to trade for Anthony Davis before the trade deadline ends next Thursday February 7th at 3 PM Eastern time. If the Lakers are willing to part with Kuzma, Ball, Ingram and Hart (plus a draft picks of course) then that’s the move for the Pelicans. If they’re not, if say they don’t want to give up Kuzma, then the Pelicans need to trade AD to the Raptors before the trade deadline ends. Teams around the league aren’t going to give up valuable assets for a player on an expiring deal that won’t commit to them, the Raptors have already proved they will. And the Pelicans can’t afford to wait until the summer because if Kawhi Leonard decides to leave Toronto it’s unlikely that they’d still make this deal. Waiting will prolong the rebuild process and lower the value of Davis. Right now the Lakers know they are competing with the Raptors so they’ll be willing to part with more than they will this summer if the Raptors lose Kawhi and are no longer looking to trade for Davis. Then if Davis says he won’t commit long term to the Celtics, then what incentive do the Lakers have to give up Kyle Kuzma when they know they can just wait till next summer and sign him straight up? If the Pelicans can’t get a deal done with the Lakers before next Thursday at 3 PM, then Anthony Davis should be traded to the Toronto Raptors.