While the 2019 free agency class is expected to include some of the game’s top talent in Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson, among others, it could overlap with Anthony Davis winding up on the trade block.
Davis remains under contract for two more seasons, but the final year — 2020-21 — is a player option. The New Orleans Pelicans can offer a five-year, $239.5 million contract extension in July.
Davis previously signed a five-year, $145 million extension with the Pelicans in July 2015. Considering his declaration that ‘legacy’ carries more significance to him than financial gain, the Pelicans being the only team capable of offering a supermax extension may prove insignificant.
Meanwhile, the sense throughout the league is the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers will ultimately jockey to trade for or sign Davis, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
The buzz in Las Vegas, where most of the league’s executives gathered over the past few days for the NBA G League Winter Showcase, is that Davis will end up with either the Boston Celtics or Lakers before the 2019-20 season.
“It’s a renewal of the NBA’s great rivalries, just not on the court but behind the scenes,” one executive said.
Ultimately, the word on the ground before Christmas in Las Vegas is the Lakers and Celtics are the clear favorites to get Davis. It’s not “will the Pelicans or won’t they move the All-Star forward?” It’s a question of where and when.
Should Davis reject an extension from the Pelicans this summer, it could entice the team to begin exploring trades to avoid potentially losing the versatile big man for no compensation. New Orleans to this point has remained adamant they will not trade the 25-year-old.
Speculation is the Lakers have an advantage by way of Davis being represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports. Paul of course is also close friends with and the agent for LeBron James. James recently caused a stir by openly embracing the possibility to play with Davis.
While it set off a media fire storm and reportedly angered general managers of small-market teams, James stood by his comments and also named Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic and Durant among those he’d like to have as teammates.