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Brainstorming possible Anthony Davis landing spots

Where in the world will Anthony Davis play?

Getty Images/Peter Rogers Illustrations

Apparently, Anthony Davis, one of the 10 best players in the NBA, has told his bosses at the Pelicans that he won’t be resigning with them when his current contract is up after next season, and he’d like to bounce to a contending team. Things that make you go, hmmmmmmm:

Dallas has an urge to trade their good sophomore, Dennis Smith, Jr., an urge to fill out their roster around their great rookie, Luka Doncic, and, an urge to remember that they whiff on free agents ALL THE TIME, so maybe they should make a trade, instead (I’m not counting Deandre Jordan). (Could free agents avoiding Dallas have anything to do with how their front office staff has behaved?)

Joining Dallas rather than the Lakers would mean that AD doesn’t get the swoon of the bright lights of LA. But, guess who’s top 3 for overall attendance this year (including at home and on the road)? The Dallas Mavericks! Luka-mania isn’t just for Texans and Slovenians (that would be an awesome wedding, btw), the entire country is excited to see the young European play. “Yeah, but the Mavs are Luka’s team now, AD wouldn’t want to be overshadowed.” So, joining LeBron in LA will be different?

There are multiple teams interested in the Brow, of course, and ESPN—along with the rest of the national sports media—wants AD to join LeBron on the Lakers even more than LeBron and the Lakers do. This is all very reminiscent of Carmelo Anthony’s trade demand/request to be sent from the Denver Nuggets (who are very much contenders this year, and going into the future) to the New York Knickerbockers (who haven’t been real, actual contenders for anything for nearly two decades now).

We all know how the Melo saga worked out. “This will be different!,” you say. “AD is joining ‘Bron! Other free agents will want to play with them!”

Will they?

Who’s the best free agent LeBron’s ever convinced to join forces with him on his team? Bron and Chris Bosh joined DWade in Miami (after Flash had already won a Finals, too). The Cavs 1.0 never got a good FA for Bron (which is why he left), and the Cavs 2.0 never did, either: they traded for Kevin Love and they already had Kyrie Irving. There isn’t a whole helluva lot of evidence that star players enjoy playing with LeBron James. Paul George was MASSIVELY rumored to become a Laker, but he’s now signed in OKC to play with Russell Westbrook, rather than LA to play with LeBron.

I don’t think it’s a given that elite players want to play with LeBron (Kyrie’s already publicly divorced him), and I don’t think it’s a given that the Lakers land the Brow. For one thing, New Orleans can trade him to whoever they want (like Indiana did with PG-13). For another, they might prefer players other than the problematic Lonzo Ball, currently underwhelming Brandon Ingram, and some shitty draft picks (again, Melo-history and the Pacers’ return for Paul George, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, two players waaaaay better than Ball and Ingram are right now, though the trade was considered VERY one-sided for the Thunder when it occurred).

One final caveat about AD on the Lakers: he and LeBron, technically, play the same position, no? I mean, LBJ can play anywhere, obviously, and position names don’t matter with players of this high caliber, but it’s still another reason why it might take AD a hot sec to get used to playing with LeBron, just like all the other good players Bron’s played with. And, possibly, another good reason for the Lakers to trade for the Brow as soon as possible. (Also, trading away a ton of players for the Brow would give the Lakers organization a nice Get Out of Jail Free card for missing the playoffs this season, and yeah, that is a possibility: they’re two games out of the 8-seed as of late January.)

But there are plenty of teams out there for Davis to pick from.

Why not join forces with Dame and CJ, who are younger than LeBron? Or, call up Kawhi and see wsup in the TDot and whether he’s thinking of staying there or joining the Clippers? Could the Brow go full ‘Bron and bounce to Miami? Did Anthony Davis enjoy playing with Boogie Cousins last season? Enough to try and team up again in a different city after this season? Could Philly go all in and trade Ben Simmons for AD? I don’t think there’s a Houston trade possible, nor would anyone in their right mind want to trade for John Wall or play for the Wizards. Is there a world in which the Milwaukee braintrust thinks one year of Giannis and AD is worth a mega-trade? Those two definitely complement each other.

Maybe Kevin Durant and his free agency will have more to do with all of this than we assume right now. I hate to say this, but if the New York Goddamn Knicks could clear some salary and trade for AD, and convince him to stay and join forces with Kristaps Porzingis, AND were able to convince KD to come to the Mecca and be one of the three Magii (no apologies for Gospel-jumping), then who the hell wouldn’t have the Knicks as a perennial contender for the Finals?

And through all this, Boston looms.

I must remind everyone: super teams are exceedingly difficult. Not just to build, but also to maintain. They are no guarantees of success. Just look at Boston this year: they’re one of the best teams in the NBA but they clearly don’t know how to work together yet. They’re winning games on talent, which won’t work in the playoffs forever. Or, look at the Heatles: they won 2 of 4 possible championships, and they had three of the best players in the NBA at the time, and two of the best players OF ALL TIME at the time.

If AD is intent on leaving New Orleans, and winning it all is the only thing that matters to him, blah blah, I don’t know where he’s gonna go, and I don’t know what he wants, but Golden State is the only Best Option for Winning a Championship. Every other team has a worse shot, so, by definition, choosing a non-Warriors team belies AD’s statements.

The biggest thing the Brow needs to do is go to a team with a damn good medical staff; one that has a good defensive backcourt; and, one that has an actual center who can play interior defense so that AD doesn’t have to.

That kinda sounds like...the Indiana Pacers? I know, I know! ‘Dipo just got injured for the season, and Indiana NEVER spends money. But those both kinda work in the Pacers favor in this scenario! They never spend and so they have salary cap space (they’re bottom 10 in spending this year), so they can obviously make an exception to attain one of the biggest stars in the NBA without crying poverty and luxury tax. They can actually send back good, young pieces to New Orleans, along with draft picks, and maybe even absorb more than AD from the Pelicans. Finally, with ‘Dipo out for the rest of the season, but Indiana STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS IN THE EAST, the Brow would have a chance to keep competing when he comes back from injury, and maybe win a few series in the Eastern bracket. You can make the salaries work if New Orleans gets Sabonis, Aaron Holiday, and expiring contracts (along with multiple picks).

This won’t happen, mainly because constructing a super team means you have to pay super high salaries, and the Pacers won’t do that. It’s a shame to not even try, since every owner has more than enough money to go into the luxury tax at least once, but that’s another story.

This news is sad for New Orleans, and a little disappointing for everyone else. It sucks when things don’t work out, and a split becomes inevitable. Hopefully, the Pelicans get a good return for Anthony Davis, and they get to enjoy a fun team led by Jrue Holiday (who’s a great player in his own right).

We just lost Oladipo and now we’re losing the Brow in Nawlins. Not a great start to the new year.

One final thought, just to be different and to highlight how well Blake Griffin’s played this season, but to no avail: