When the NBA owners crafted the supermax contract for the elite of the elite, they were betting on 26 year olds loving money. Hyper-selective, the contract rewards loyalty. Only eligible are those players still with the teams that drafted them. They have to have a MVP or Defensive Player of the Year award on their shelf. Or, they must have been voted All-NBA. Then they are entitled, in contract number three, over $200 million, if both parties agree.
Both parties do not agree in New Orleans.
Anthony Davis is eligible but wants out. He isn’t signing an extension this summer which isn’t much of a surprise since he signed with agent Rich Paul to get him out of purgatory.
Despite all the denials from Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, the handwriting was on the wall way back when. Davis says he wants to go to a contender, he wants to win, and that is more valuable (to him) than money. But, smartly, he isn’t saying where he wants to go. To overreact and act like he is management instead of labor is a sign that the Pelicans will send him as far away from that fave destination as possible.
The Thunder dealt Paul George to OKC instead of the Lakers. The Wolves sent disgruntled star Jimmy Butler to Philly and not the Clippers, Rockets or Heat. Name your place and you won’t get there. So Paul and Davis are being shrewd but the Lakers and LeBron James are the flavor of the month.
The Lakers, however, are a longshot. They just don’t have the assets for New Orleans to maintain any level of relevancy with Davis gone. Outside of Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers don’t have consistent offensive or defensive players. Brandon Ingram, who the Pelicans don’t want, and Lonzo Ball, who they do want, have motors that vary depending on what day of the week it is. One day they are aggressive and involved. The next they are shy. You can’t trust them, not yet. Even Luke Walton said they don’t give effort every single game.
As for Lonzo Ball. He has let the world know he has no interest in joining New Orleans if his name is in the Davis trade scrum, but it’s not for the reason you think. Lonzo wants to go to a team where he can start. But he can start in New Orleans.
Last season, Rajon Rondo was the Pelicans point guard and Jrue Holiday the two guard. This season, the Pels have Elfrid Payton who has been hurt much of the year. Holiday had to move back to the point but he is a better two guard and frankly a Holiday/Lonzo combo would be a hellacious defensive back court, no disrespect to Payton. Both have size and can guard and where Lonzo’s offense is up and down, Holiday can drain shots. Payton would go to the bench or come over in the trade ($3 million, expiring deal).
New Orleans has made it clear they will trade Anthony Davis on their time table and no one else’s. They might wait for the summer when Jayson Tatum becomes available. (An arcane CBA rule requires the wait after the C’s traded for Kyrie Irving). Grabbing all those Celtics protected lottery picks and young guns may be the best package. Anything after the summer is not going to get the Pels much in the way of assets and a player who can come in and compete.
Anthony Davis was the “kid” on the 2012 Olympic team. All the stars took him under their wing. He was wide eyed and fresh off a NCAA title. Now, he is the veteran thinking only about championships and winning, his apprenticeship over.
The then Hornets owned by the NBA stacked the deck to get Davis. With Davis, they have never won 50 games, and have only won 45 or more games twice. Davis has endured a lot of losing seasons with a lot of injuries. He hasn’t made other players around him better, as good as he is. But he is hyper talented, the best at his position. He is a bona fide star even if he’s not a winner.
Do what you can to get him. Like one radio host said today: Give Dell Demps whatever he wants. This is Anthony Davis, a once in a generation player.