A couple reports have come out recently stating that the Celtics and Lakers are hoarding assets in order to make a trade for AD. Whether it occurs before the deadline this season, in the free agency, or during next season, it doesn’t matter. It is a year away, and the class this year is stacked with a ton of All-Stars. The issue? They are on a very very tight deadline. Of course, this isn’t factoring in other teams offers, and this also is not including the package the Pels can offer (I could have just said contract, but I had to say package lol).
The following teams are just a few that have a shot. Of course, this is all predicated on many factors happening for some. For instance, one team pretty much will need to sign multiple players and improve their team tremendously in order to even get a meeting with AD. Of course, that will be addressed, along with my odds. I will only be going over these teams, since they are the only ones who will have the money to offer in free agency, or be able to trade for (and afford) his contract during/after the seaso.
Any who, lets start this off with one of the more intriguing teams to be on this list…
This article originally was one comparing the Lakers, Celtics, and Pelicans since all three are considered the front runners. In fact, the hottest take of this may be that the Celtics are the favorite, and they have been staying out of the limelight of this whole situation! As is the Celtic way, they are trying to stay out of the spotlight while keeping tabs on the situation. Classic Ainge.
The Celtics can (realistically) offer the best trade package compared to anyone that wishes to get involved with this. I won’t get much into specifics, but if a trade were to occur that would involve a top 5 player in the league, I would assume it would come down to picks and (young) players. Out of every team on this list, the Celts are the only ones that can reasonably offer not only both, but some of the best with both. I don’t know many teams that would turn down a (hypothetical) Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and 2 first round picks. Hell, I’d consider that a baseline for anyone wishing to get AD, like they would have to do better than this trade. And that isn’t even the best one the Celts can make. Scary to consider.
I get the whole agent connection to LA, but Davis has already fired one agent. He could and would do it again. The Pelicans, as an organization, may find it hard to turn down “The Godfather” offer from the Celtics, since we all know Ainge has been working AD since he entered the draft. Issue I see is the fact the Celtics cannot trade for AD until next year due to the designated veteran player extension rule (long story short = cant have 2 players with that contract designation on the team that you didn’t draft). Maybe that factors in, maybe not. At the end of the day, they have the BEST parts to offer.
God save the NBA if a Kyrie-AD high pick-and-roll becomes a thing soon. We may not see the East be the same afterwards.
Buck’s Odds – 30% (stabilized)
The issue the Nets have besides terrible management and a horrible track record in trades is simple, but difficult to overcome: they don’t have the assets to move in order to get AD. Yes, they could trade them D-Lo, Caris Lavert, Jarrett Allen, and a couple picks…but then who do they have left besides Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and a (pretty bad) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? If you count DeMarre Carroll, then that roster looks pretty bare to me, and thats assuming his agent green lights this trade. While they would have the cap to get AD and another star, this seems slightly out of the question to me. They would essentially gut their team to get stars, and that’s assuming the stars want to meet with them.
Sorry Nets fans, I just can’t see this working out unless they are willing to be (arguably) worse than they are currently.
Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)
The Mavericks are on here not because they can offer the best trade package or anything of that sort. In fact, it would be best for the Mavs to not try and get in a bidding war at all over AD, since they would lose completely. However, what they can do is be the money man in the free agency. Roughly $35.5 mil will come off the books when PF/C Dwight Powell’s and SF Harrison Barnes’ contracts end after the 2019-2020 season. Another $28 mil will come off as well when SG Wes Matthews’s contract ends this year. This also isn’t factoring the nearly $23 mil of DeAndre Jordan’s money that comes off the books as well. Do I think these are likely? Hell yes. Maybe they give some small “Thanks for being here, and we like you” contracts to them (beside DJ, apparently this experiment will not be renewed after this year). If they paid to keep Powell, Matthews, and Barnes around on about $20 mil (<$5 mil, >$5 mil, roughly $10 mil respectively), they will still have about $53 mil free this offseason AND about $40 mil (in other contracts as well) cap space free next season. This is INSANE to think about, and that is with no other draft picks. It would be criminal to see Dennis Smith, Luka, Barnes (capable 3 and D), Maxi Kleber, and AD walk out. Have your bench be J.J. Barea, Wes Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dirk, and Dwight Powell? Remember, this is WITHOUT ANY OTHER SIGNINGS as well.
Legitimately would trade my Cav’s fan membership card to watch Dirk unretire to win one more ring with that squad.
Buck’s Odds – 2.5% (rising)
Los Angeles Clippers
There are 4 teams on this list that could feasibly offer a good trade package to the Pelicans. I mean, REALISTICALLY there are 5 teams that can afford the trade, but I consider two team’s packages (lol) to be “half” packages. Like they are only half as good as what the other 3 teams could offer. The Celts are one of those 3, as is this team: the LA Clippers.
Long regarded as the “other LA team”, the Clippers have better plays top-to-bottom on their whole roster than the Lakers do. While yes, LeBron is better than anyone the Clippers have, I would say that it is a bad sign when a member of “the Meme team” is the second best player (aka the Shaqtin’ a Fool MVP Javale McGee) on the Lakers. This is where the Clippers can easily step in and say, “Hold my beer.”
The Clippers are one of the teams that can either pay AD or trade for AD, and that is something no other team can truly say. They can ask the Pelicans who they want, and I can only see about one or two players the Clippers say “No way” to. And those players aren’t even their best. Pels more than likely won’t able to take two of each position, but they could feasibly say they want Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Marcin Gortat, and some picks. The Clippers would promptly then say, “Where do we sign?”
If they can’t get a trade worked out, then who cares! They could sign him. They are walking into the free agency with about $60 mil burning a hole in their pocket. They could pay him AND Kawhi for all they care. Top defense in the league? More like best team in LA. Hell, I’d say best in the West when the Warriors implode this offseason.
Buck’s Odds – 25% (rising)
Los Angeles Lakers
In the Clippers section, I talked about how there were 3 teams that can offer a good trade package? Ya know, one that would be super hard to turn down if you were the Pels?
Yeah, the Lakers aren’t one lol.
The Lakers have the worst trade package to offer from those that wish to offer any kind of package (lol). I would rather have one that is at the end of this list over this one. I don’t know how intrigued I be by choosing three from the pool of Ball, Rondo, KCP, Lance, Kuzma, Ingram, and Chandler. That’s even with getting picks from it as well. While all are good in their own right, I just cannot see any being anything besides okay. I also don’t know if the Pelicans even want to trade with them since there seems to be (based on the Suns refusal to include the Lakers in any talks for a 3 team trade) a rising anti-Lakers-trade sentiment starting to creep into the West.
There is a downside to getting LeBron, and that clearly is one.
However, one of the biggest benefits is that the free agency draw is out of this world. The Lakers will have money to blow in the free agency, and this is what they are prioritizing. Of course, Magic gave himself a deadline, so he will overpursue this year and (maybe) next year as well. I know that their top 5 is (tentatively) Kemba, Klay, Drey, AD, and Kawhi. That is in no particular order, but this is just through the free agency. This is not including any trades that may occur. The only way the Lakers get a meeting with any of these players though (I mean, a “I’m actually paying attention” meeting) is to acquire another star via trade. And that’s the hard part since it seems that no one wants to trade to make this happen.
Smart move rest of league.
Buck’s Odds – 15% (stabilizing)
I considered including them earlier, but dismissed the idea when looking at their financial situation. However, hearing that Giannis walked up to AD and pretty much said “Should come here bro” made me reconsider and include them.
Bucks’ fans have much to worry about since Giannis’ free agency is looming, and they can’t put together a team around him no matter how much money they throw around. Khris Middleton and Brooke Lopez are amazing, sure, but at one point they had close to $40 mil wrapped up in Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, and Tony Snell. That’s also not including other, less tasteful assets (cough cough Jabari) that they used to have. This also isn’t factoring in the issue that they currently have about $51.5 mil accounted for between George Hill, Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell, and Ersan Ilyasova.
However, a trade FOR Davis would help alleviate some of this stress, but I don’t see the benefit of doing so since that would more than likely see Brogdon, Lopez, and Middleton/Hill/Bledsoe leave along with a pick. I don’t know if they can afford to do that since they are gelling REALLY FREAKING well right now.
However, signing AD? Definitely in the scope for the Bucks. They will have to first make sure they retain Middleton when he inevitably declines his player option and tries to get more money from the Bucks this offseason (especially with his play currently). This also isn’t accounting for the Bledsoe and Lopez free agencies as well. After next season? Well hopefully they not only move on from George Hill, and also find a way to trade Ilyasova and Tony Snell (since I doubt Tony will decline his almost $11 mil player option for that year). If they do that, they could easily free up about $38 mil. More than likely it’ll be about $30 mil since Middleton’s new contract may very well be $20-22 mil a year. This will still be more than enough money to pitch to AD, and this isn’t even factoring in the salary cap rising either.
A lot of things have to fall a certain way, which is why it is tough to justify. However, I cannot realistically think of a better frontcourt than Middleton, Giannis, and AD. I can’t even think of a better 4-5 combo. Ever. God imagine that high pick-and-roll. You can’t defend that.
I hope AD at this point considers playing with them.
Buck’s Odds – 10% (falling)
New Orleans Pelicans
It sucks to be a Pels fan right about now. It really does. I mean, you got the best big man to enter the league since Shaq. You’ve finally had a team around him that not only can compete, but even made it to the second round. And what happens? He comes out and says he doesn’t care about the money, and that his legacy means more to him than anything else. Bullsh*t aside? It means he wants rings and not stacks. He’s already got the proverbial bag, and he’ll get more when he goes to a major market with sponsorships. So what’s another couple mil in a small market on a bad team, when he could be on a smaller contract on a contender?
While the Pels can’t trade for AD since he’s on their team (duh), their inclusion is solely because they their goal is to convince him to stay. I find it highly unlikely they can, but the money IS THERE. I just don’t think he wishes to stay on a team that, for 8 years, has not been able to do much until last season. And they lost the third best player from that playoff run! It will be sad to see them slip back into mediocrity, but at least they had some time in the limelight.
Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)
New York Knicks
So the Knicks are on here because they WISH to be contenders. Whether they do this through the free agency or the draft, no one really knows. It seems to be that they wish to do both, which I don’t believe they will be able to since they need to trade 2 bad contracts (G Tim Hardaway, Jr. and G Courtney Lee). Both contracts add up to ~$31 mil, and they will also lose the horrible ~$19 mil contract of C Enes Kanter at the end of this year as well. Maybe they can even move SF/PF Lance Thomas well to free up another $8ish mil (unlikely though). The issue with that $40 mil free (if they can do it)? They still have to pay the Unicorn himself, Kristaps Porzingis.
Which now present a weird conundrum I am sure you are asking: why would they want Porinzin-God and AD on the same team? And while this may have failed on the Clippers and Pels (when they brought in Demarcus Cousins), they could go with the “Twin Towers” mentality. Imagine the lid they would put on the rim; they could easily average 10-15 blocks a game as a team.
I mean, I don’t see this occurring. I consider it solely because the Knicks NEED to make a move to make themselves a destination. While I believe the only way to do this is through the draft (or by landing KD in the free agency), getting an All-Star is better than not having an All-Star. I mean, I bet the Thunder didn’t expect Paul George to last the year. If you can get a guy in, then you can work on him and convince him every day that you are the best place for him.
Who knows, maybe Dolan sells and the new owner turns them into the “super team” their fanbase believes they deserve to be.
Buck’s Odds – 5% (falling)
I thought it was very short-sighted of the Suns to trade Ariza at this point in the season. I’m opening with this statement because he was a valuable asset, and they moved him for nothing. Why? You could easily have used him to get some better compensation than Austin Rivers (who may not even sign with the team) and Kelly Oubre. Who? Well, maybe AD.
Many of you will look at this trade, and say, “The hell you talkin’ ’bout Buck?”
But hear me out right now with this…
-Pelicans Trade – PF/C Anthony Davis, SF/PF Solomon Hill
-Suns Trade – SF/PF TJ Warren, SF/PF Josh Jackson, C Deandre Ayton + picks (more than likely next year’s draft pick)
If the Suns still had Ariza, you’d just take out Josh Jackson and put Ariza in instead. This trade looks…well, if I was the Pelicans, I’d take it. You get a new, young “franchise” player, you get two very capable wings, and you also get a pick out of it. Suns on the other hand? They finally get a great running mate for D Book, and they also finally get a center that understands how to play defense. They also get a capable defender that they can have play the wing, and they can move on from either Warren or Jackson (since they both play the same position, though I’d more than likely prefer to trade Jackson over Warren). In one trade, both teams benefit mightily. Pelicans can focus on a rebuild OR compete for the 8 seed in the playoffs, and the Suns immediately become a hub for the free agency (cough cough any point guard).
Now, I haven’t gone through the money side of this. In fact, this team came to me at the very end. But color me intrigued to say the least. I mean, this trade could still happen as far as I am concerned. This package is pretty hard to refuse (lol).
Buck’s Odds – 2.5% (and rising)