Since the announcement Monday morning that Anthony Davis had requested a trade via his agent Rich Paul, it has almost felt like a foregone conclusion that he will someway, somehow end up a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. There are obvious ties between both parties and abundant expressed interest on behalf of the Lakers. Additionally, the Lakers also have one of the best capabilities to offer a large trade return of young players and picks without forcing New Orleans to take on long-term money.
While Los Angeles has claimed much of the attention surrounding landing spots for Anthony Davis, both the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks have jumped to the top of the list of candidates deserving of serious consideration. Those two teams don’t come without condition, however.
Boston would have to either wait until the offseason to make a deal or be willing to send out Kyrie Irving to make it happen right now. There are questions surrounding New York in terms of what the future holds for their 2019 first round pick, as well as Kristaps Porzingis’ health.
Despite there being clear frontrunners, teams like the Toronto Raptors and the Oklahoma City Thunder have proven recently that any team can come in with the right offer at the right time and steal the show. As 29 teams around the league gear up to find a way to insert themselves into conversation for an Anthony Davis trade, here are five dark horse teams to keep an eye on:
5. Brooklyn Nets
Few teams around the league have been as surprising as the Brooklyn Nets. Even after Caris LeVert went down early in the season with an injury, their young team has played their way into postseason position and is showing major potential. That said, when opportunities like this arise, sometimes the best move is to cash in on that potential for a proven superstar.
Brooklyn would be able to offer young players like D’Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Rodions Kurucs, and Dzanan Musa in exchange for Davis. After what feels like so long without them, the Nets also own all of their own picks moving forward.
The appeal for Brooklyn would be to bring Anthony Davis in to play alongside a young backcourt of LaVert and Spencer Dinwiddie, while still retaining enough cap room to sign another star in the coming offseason. However, the Nets could prefer to continue building organically, as they have an unfavorable history with all-in type trades.
4. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are another team with a multitude of young players to throw at New Orleans. It has been mentioned that Anthony Davis doesn’t have any desire to play in Chicago, despite it being his hometown. Having expressed an interest to play for a team that would allow him to win consistently, the Bulls aren’t the first team to come to mind. However, this could be a Paul George being traded to the Thunder type scenario, as Chicago has been in desperate need to bring life back to the franchise.
Chicago has young players like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison, Denzel Valentine, and Kris Dunn that could be thrown into an offer. One key advantage they have is, much like the New York Knicks, their upcoming 2019 first round pick should be near the top of the draft and could have great trade value. Keeping Markkanen would be ideal, but it would be tough to imagine they wouldn’t be willing to go all in, even possibly offering Zach LaVine if Davis is still available come summertime, if it gets the deal done.
3. Toronto Raptors
It was mentioned by Kevin O’Conner of the Ringer that the Toronto Raptors are expected to make serious effort in trading for Anthony Davis. It makes sense, as bringing another star to play alongside Kawhi Leonard would not only be a recipe for success this season, but also a strong reason for Leonard to stay rather than head for the west coast this offseason. A duo of Leonard and Davis could likely create one of the best defensive teams in league history as well, as both are elite individual defenders.
Toronto would likely be ready to offer any play other than Leonard in trade talks. Pascal Siakam would be the centerpiece of any package, as the young forward is displaying All-Star potential in just his third season. Additionally, players like OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Delon Wright could make for an interesting offer of young players. Raptors’ players like Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka offer salary filler that doesn’t extend beyond next season.
2. Portland Trail Blazers
It was reported that the Portland Trail Blazers will be aggressive in attempts to pursue an Anthony Davis trade. The Blazers have seen ample regular season success in recent seasons but acquiring another superstar like Davis could allow them to propel further into the playoffs and contend for a title.
A perfect deal would be a combination of Jusuf Nurkic, who has multiple years left on his contract at a great rate and has been playing fantastic this season, and multiple future first round picks. Portland doesn’t have much to offer in the way of young players, but they could get creative in finding ways to help relieve New Orleans of unwanted salary like Solomon Hill. Their potential to get a deal done could hinge on the inclusion of CJ McCollum, though.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are looking to do anything they can to make a deal for Davis, supposedly even offering up anyone on the roster aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo. With players like Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcom Brogdon, and D.J. Wilson, there is reason to believe they could make it happen.
They are without many of their future picks, but Milwaukee seems relentless. Possibly having Giannis and Davis on the same team gives them plenty of reason to pursue this inexhaustibly.