As we all slightly expected, the Pelicans could not convince AD to stay. We all wanted to see what a potential AD, Zion, and Jrue lineup could do, but alas, it was not meant to be. What does this mean for us casual NBA fans and stans out there, especially since this trade has monumental implications? Everyone knows that every team is calling with their AD offer, since many would be crazy to not attempt to trade for him. The Clippers, Jazz, Kings, Rockets, Mavericks, and Thunder have shown interest in acquiring the best center in the league. They’ve been reluctant in pulling the trigger on mortgaging their future on him, and are not the headlines of the “trade for AD crowd”. Those, of course, are still the Lakers, the Knicks, and the Celtics.
As some of you may or may not have heard, reports are coming out that LeBron has told the Lakers that if they strike out in free agency, and do not land him another star to play with, then he will demand a trade. This could spell the end of LABron and the Lakers hopes as a title-contending franchise. The Lakers will undoubtedly go all in on the AD trade sweepstakes, and offer everything under the sun in order to get him. Issue is, will Ball, Hart, Ingram, Kuzma, the 4th pick, and future other picks be able to seal the deal? It would give them a lineup to put around Zion at center, and they could draft someone like Garland, White, Hunter, or Culver with the 4th pick. Very good proposition, and then gives them the ability to trade Jrue to a team that is desperately needing either an upgrade at point guard or a non-garbage point guard.
However, will the Pels be interested in just that bag of trash? The Knicks, for instance, can offer a lot more and better assets than the Lakers. I would much rather take DSJ, Ntilikina, Trier, Knox, Hezonja, Robinson, the 3rd pick, and future draft picks. The Pels, with this trade, could then immediately trade Jrue since they have 3 capable ball-handlers. They would have a backup center behind Zion, or have the center on the court with Zion and go big. The 3rd pick puts them in prime RJ Barrett range, and that would give them another hyper-athletic wing-guard hybrid. He’s even Zion’s college teammate, so chemistry would not be heinous. They would and could easily unthrone the Kings as the most exciting and promising young team in the league.
Unfortunately for the previously mentioned teams, no one can beat Danny Ainge and his “Godfather” offer he will undoubtedly make. Danny Ainge has hoarded so many assets that he legitimately could have a three part special on the TV show Hoarders. Possessing the 14th, 20th, 22nd, and a few second round picks in the draft, these are considered the weakest of his pool of resources. He has a collection of players that many around the league view as the best young collection. Tatum, Brown, and Rozier are the stars of the bunch, but Yabusele, Williams, and Ojeleye are considered hidden gems by many. If the Pels wanted higher picks, Ainge could easily leverage one from a different team with all of his resources. Suns, Bulls, and Wizards might take the 20th and 22nd for their respective picks. Again, no one can compete with Ainge and his pool. However, their pool definitely seems less stupendous now, seeing as all save Brown regressed this year. The picks are also less than stellar, so who knows. The Celtics did not pass the eye test to me this year, and I can only help but wonder if other teams noticed that as well.
This trade is monumental for the league, seeing as this is still in the open bidding process. We have dealt with this drama all season, and are no closer to knowing where he will land as we were at the start. I can only hope this gets resolved quickly, seeing as many (myself included) are beginning to tire of this narrative.