After years of speculation about his future with the New Orleans Pelicans, superstar (and generational talent) Anthony Davis has requested a trade to a contender. With the trade deadline only 10 days away (February 7), it's going to be interesting to see if a deal can get done; it'll be far more interesting to see where he ends up.
So, what happens next? We wait. Nobody knows exactly where AD is going to wind up; that's to be found out whenever Woj or Shams drops an absolutely unexpected bomb on everybody, similarly to this morning. There's inevitably going to be a handful of teams calling Pelicans' GM Dell Demps about what it's going to take to bring AD to their city, and I have their answer. It's going to take a lot, which may end up hurting the Lakers, the current-favorite in the trade sweepstakes. The Pelicans are shipping off a top-5 player in the league and arguably the best player in franchise history (Chris Paul has a case), they're going to want youth, picks, and future flexibility for giving up such an astronomical talent. The Lakers, like most of the teams in the running, may not have as much as the Pelicans want.
In the words of Sp0rtsTalk1ce, "...at this point it seems like LA's sweepstakes to lose." The AD-to-LA rumors began the second LeBron stepped foot in the Staples Center, and they've only ramped up as the season has gone on (and gotten increasingly dramatic). LeBron wants to play with him, and Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka want to acquire him; what do they do with their young "core"? Reports over the last few days have indicated that the value of the Lakers' "Core Four" (Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart) has diminished over the season, and the "potential" and "upside" once cherished in the offseason may be seen as an afterthought. The Lakers apparently have to start their offer with Zo, Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, and their 2019 first-round pick, but is that enough? AD has shown his potential (all-time great) already, but the three players just mentioned haven't; they've all played about a season-and-a-half of NBA basketball as opposed to AD's 6.5. If the Lakers are serious about acquiring AD, they may have to bite the bullet and trade Zo, Kuzma, AND Ingram to pull it off. LeBron is only guaranteed to stay in Los Angeles for two more years... they don't have that big of a window. If they're serious about winning a ring now with LeBron, they might have to sacrifice long-term success for a man who could go down as one of the best to ever do it; pull the trigger, Magic.
Just because the Lakers are the favorite doesn't mean they'll land AD, however. Other teams around the league will do their due diligence on NOLA's asking price because, well, it's Anthony Davis. Expect to see the Knicks, Heat, Bulls, and even Bucks pop-up in rumors; maybe even the Nets will try and make a splash. While everyone checking in on AD's availability are technically contenders, there's only one other team (in addition to the Lakers) that could pry AD away: the Boston Celtics. After entering the season as many peoples' Finals pick, they find themselves at a crossroads as the trade deadline approaches. They're currently the 5th seed in the East (30-19) and may have too much depth for their own good. They're stacked to the brim with young assets and picks and would put AD in the exact situation he's looking for; there's just one problem. Boston can't trade for AD until July 1, the start of free agency, because him and Kyrie Irving are both under max contacts signed after the "Rose Rule" was created (click here for a detailed explanation). Under the rule, teams can't trade for more than one player who signed an extension after the "Rose Rule" was put into place, and since Boston traded for Kyrie, they have to either a) include Kyrie in a deal or b) wait until July 1 for Kyrie to be a free agent. Once again Boston and LA will be going head-to-head, it just won't be for a championship (yet).
With all that being said, it's a very, very real possibility that AD finishes the year with the Pelicans. Since he's under contract until July 1, 2020, they don't have to move him until they want (or have) to. The team knows that they'll be getting flocks of offers, so why take from the first crop of deals when you can drive up competition and get even more assets? If the Lakers are serious about being big players and starting their next championship-era, they absolutely need to make a deal in the next 10 days before Danny Ainge and the Celtics swoop in and spoil their parade. The next week-and-a-half is going to be packed with trade rumors and possible deals, so buckle in; the trade deadline is one of the best days of the year.