The Clippers have officially entered the NBA’s silly season, and currently, the prize is Anthony Davis.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that LA has reached out to New Orleans about trading for Davis, though Bobby Marks (one-time associate of Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank) says that the Clippers are unwilling to part with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so it’s tricky to gauge their level of interest.
There might be good reason to be reluctant, seeing as Davis prefers to land with the Lakers or the Knicks, but Davis is a superstar and the Clippers have the goods to get him. The question now is: what should the Clippers be willing to offer to the Pelicans to get Anthony Davis in a trade?
We posed this question to the Clips Nation staff with the following caveats: This isn’t the most you would offer or what you hope the Clippers can get AD for. Realistically, what do you think the Clippers have to give up to get Davis?
Farbod Esnaashari: Realistically, the Clippers would have to give up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for Anthony Davis. Getting pieces like Lou Williams is nice for New Orleans, but they need legitimate young stars to build a team around Zion. Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet are perfect examples for that.
Realistically the Clippers would have to give up: SGA, Lou Williams, Jerome or Landry, and Montrezl Harrell. I personally would be apprehensive about it, especially because of AD’s injury history.
Taylor Smith: I don’t think the Clippers can meet the “established All-Star” criteria David Griffin is reportedly seeking, but if the Pels do decide to send AD to the Clippers, there’s really no way around Danilo Gallinari being in the deal for salary, if nothing else. The “untouchable” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is pretty clearly the Clips’ most appealing trade asset, so he has to be in there, too. Sadly, Montrezl Harrell is probably another casualty of a potential trade, as much as I’d love to see him stick around.
The Gallo-SGA-Harrell trio probably has to be the core of any trade, while the 2021 first-rounder from Miami is also probably a necessity in order to get the Pels to do the deal. I’m not sure it’s enough, but a Gallo-SGA-Harrell package with the Miami pick and some other draft considerations is at least a decent starting point for the Clippers.
Shapan Debnath: Honestly, if Davis is staying, what wouldn’t you offer for him? Subjectively I wouldn’t want to offer Shai, but realistically and objectively you’d have to. Our three biggest assets of interest to a rebuilding New Orleans team would be Shai, Shamet, and the Miami pick, and all three would be worth Anthony Davis, given that he’d stay long term. I would miss our backcourt dearly, of course.
Eric Patten: Not to spoil the party, but I don’t think there is a realistic offer the Clippers SHOULD make. Of course, they have the pieces to put together one of the most intriguing packages in the league, but free agency is far more intriguing than going after a guy who left the arena in the middle of a game with an “injury,” is represented by an agency that thought the best play was to sabotage two teams in the middle of the season, has missed 108 games since 2012 and never played more than 75 in a season, has one playoff series victory as the alpha star, and is allegedly of such good sense that he “prefers” the Lakers and Knicks—two of the most screwed up organizations in North American sports. And even if you’re cool with all that stuff and the “That’s All Folks” shirt, he’s still able to walk in 2020. No, thank you.
Robert Flom: Clippers fans won’t want to hear this, but the starting point of any Anthony Davis deal to the Clippers has to be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The qualities that made SGA such a beloved figure among Clippers’ fans in rookie season also make him by far the Clippers’ best asset this summer. Shai is seemingly a lock to be at the least a starting level point guard for another decade, and has All-Defense and All-Star type upside. Although Landry Shamet is a quality prospect and someone who should have a long NBA career, Shai is the Clippers’ lone blue-chipper, and he needs to be in the deal for the Pelicans to give up a player of Anthony Davis’ caliber.
Realistically, Danilo Gallinari probably has to be in the deal. His large contract and extremely high level of play last season makes him an ideal match, and he’d be a terrific fit next to Jrue Holiday and Zion Williamson. Gallo would help keep the Pelicans competitive, as David Griffin wants, but isn’t signed to a long deal that could hold back a rebuild. That can’t be enough. The Pelicans would need more young talent, and as I don’t think the Clippers would part with Shamet and Shai, that means Jerome Robinson has to join the deal too. Jerome didn’t play much in 2019, but showed some flashes, and was drafted high in an extremely good draft. To add the cherry on top of the cake, the Clippers would throw in two future 1st round picks (though not the 2021 Heat pick, which I’d hold onto). That should be enough to at least get the Pelicans into a serious negotiation.
Lucas Hann: Call me crazy, but I don’t think I’m as eager to pursue Anthony Davis as other folks might be. I get it, he’s good. He’s more than good — he’s one of the best players in the league. But I’m just not sure that there’s a trade here that makes sense for the Clippers. For me, this isn’t about fair value for a superstar, or market value compared to other offers from around the league — it’s about smart team-building. If the Clippers trade for Anthony Davis and don’t sign Kawhi Leonard, they probably won’t be able to put together a better team than the Pelicans ever did. And Davis is only guaranteed to be here for one year. So, the Clippers trade crucial pieces (potentially three starters) and high-value future picks from the war chest so that they can win games in the mid-40s again? It just doesn’t make sense to me. The upside of the gamble isn’t good enough for the cost. Davis’ teams in New Orleans have only made the playoffs twice, and only won a series once. This isn’t a one-year rental of Kawhi Leonard, who has already won a Finals MVP taking you to a championship.
You know when it’s worth giving up all of your assets for Anthony Davis? When you meet with Kawhi on July 1st and he says that’s what you have to do in order for him to sign. Other than that, I’m cool with patience.
Chris Murch: I think the best package, given the information we know from the respective front-offices involved (no SGA, Pels want all-star level player, young dude who will be good, first-round picks), would be:
Clippers get: Anthony Davis and Solomon Hill
Pelicans get: Montrezl Harrell, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Shamet, 2021 Philly pick
I don’t want this trade to happen at all. But that would be my final offer.
Davey Bales: Realistically, any trade between the Clippers and Pelicans for Anthony Davis that doesn’t include Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a non-starter. Whether it’s the Lakers (my guess), Knicks, or some other mystery team that inserts themselves into the conversation, there are too many promising young assets or lottery picks in this year’s draft in play to convince me that the Pelicans would be content accepting a Clippers’ package that somehow keeps Shai in LA.
The Clippers can assemble an intriguing package of win-now players on expiring and/or team-friendly deals (Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams) and draft capital (namely Miami’s unprotected first in 2021 courtesy of the Tobias Harris trade), but a trade with the Pelicans will require a promising young player in return to grow alongside Zion Williamson. Despite a promising rookie season, I don’t think Landry Shamet has a high enough ceiling to get a deal done. It’s my guess that a potential trade would start with SGA, Gallinari, and the Miami pick, and even then I’m not sure if it would be enough to woo the Pelicans. The Clippers are clearly doing their due diligence, as any smart front office should, but without assurance from Anthony Davis that he would re-up after next season I think they’re best served holding on to their assets and focusing on this year’s free agent class.
Sabreena Merchant: The Clippers probably shouldn’t try to trade for Anthony Davis until they have a commitment from another superstar to sign this offseason. In the event that happens, a package of SGA, Jerome Robinson, Danilo Gallinari, and two first-rounders (the 2021 Miami pick and one of the Clippers’ own future picks) should get the deal done. Davis may not have been able to lead his own team in New Orleans, but he is fantastically overqualified as a second banana should the Clippers get Kawhi Leonard.
If the Clippers don’t sign Leonard or Kevin Durant this offseason (the other players in the market don’t seem like indisputable no. 1 options to me), then the easiest thing to do would be to roll over cap space into the summer of 2020 to sign Davis as a free agent. Another season similar to this past one would be a pretty compelling recruiting pitch.