Anthony Davis trade rumors have started picking up steam again, as it’s clear that even with a new front office and generational prospect Zion Williamson on the way, AD wants to be elsewhere. While the Clippers were listed as one of Davis’ preferred teams to be traded to, a deal between the two teams has never seemed likely. This is because, as I discussed on a Pelicans’ podcast yesterday, the Pelicans will want Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and the Clippers don’t want to part with the promising guard.
Today, we got even further confirmation that this is probably the reason that the Clippers haven’t been mentioned more as an AD destination. Bobby Marks of ESPN said on the radio that he has “heard” that SGA will not be included in any deal for AD. As was pointed out on Twitter, Marks was the GM in Brooklyn when Lawrence Frank was the head coach, so there’s a good chance this information is legit. If so, without Shai, the Clippers simply don’t have the assets to top the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, or many others teams in pursuit of AD.
Bobby Marks heard SGA won’t be on the table for an AD trade @SedanoESPN show— Ralph Mason (@Ralph_MasonJr) June 7, 2019
Now, many people will be skeptical of this. As good as Shai is, he’s incredibly unlikely to ever be as impactful as Davis, who’s arguably a top 5 NBA player when healthy and engaged, and is certainly in the top 10. On the surface, it’s laughable that the Clippers would not even discuss including him for a player as talented as AD.
On the other hand, Shai just finished his rookie season, and is therefore cheap and probably under cost-control for another seven seasons. Davis has just one year left on his deal (though he does have a player option for 2020-2021), and has said that regardless of team he will want to test free agency. The Clippers are one of the teams he likes, but trading for him is a large gamble.
Really, the Clippers’ trading for Davis makes sense primarily if they have one other free agent superstar in the bag, and can pair Davis with him. The Clippers’ reticence to go all out for AD could be due to some new skepticism of their getting such a player. Or, perhaps more likely given the confidence of this front office, they believe they can get two superstars, and don’t want to have to give up excessive assets for another.
The other possibility is that this is just a bluff, that the Clippers don’t want to play all their cards (like the Lakers did in February), and that Shai could eventually be worked into a deal. Again, if they get word that Kawhi or KD is coming, but on the condition that AD is traded for, or vice versa, and know that AD will stay if Kawhi or KD is here, then matters might change.
Things change, but right now, there doesn’t appear to be any talks between the Clippers and Pelicans on Davis, and the reticence on trading Shai might be the biggest reason. The Pelicans, rightly, would want him, and the Clippers, understandably, want to hold onto their point guard of the future. Keep tuned for further developments, but it would be surprising at this point if the Clippers made a play for AD.