Winning three NBA championships in four years isn’t enough for the Golden State Warriors. They want to dominate the league like no other team before it. Despite the dynastic achievement of winning three rings out of four, the Warriors brass is determined to make sure that the championship stays in the Bay Area.
Golden State was reportedly interested in acquiring New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis to potentially secure their place in history as perhaps the greatest team ever assembled. The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami blew up the internet with the report below:
“Are the Warriors still targeting New Orleans center Anthony Davis? Sure. Lacob and Myers love to circle the best names possible years in advance of their potential availability, and figure out how they might be able to land the biggest fish out there.
It used to be Kevin Durant. Now the Warriors’ biggest target is Davis, and they understand that their clearest way to get him was to sacrifice several big parts of their foundation — maybe Klay Thompson and/or Draymond Green — in a trade.”
If the Warriors want Davis on their team, the price is going to be steep and will cost them a minimum of two members to their core and even that may not be enough.
So how can they land Davis without damaging their championship hopes next season and beyond? Let’s look into the young All-Star center’s interest in the Warriors and see if there’s any attraction to playing with the Dubs at all.
Anthony Davis Likes the Warriors
Back in October of 2016, months prior to the All-Star Game being held in New Orleans, Davis was asked a couple of questions that seemed to lean a bit toward a Golden State bias. RealGM.com asked the former All-Star MVP what his favorite jersey and his favorite arena were.
“I’m a colors guy. I like Golden State’s colors a lot,” Davis said. “Also, Cleveland has kind of an old-school blue jersey I really like that has this unique design under the end of the word ‘Cavaliers.’”
As for his favorite road arena? You guessed it.
“Golden State’s Oracle Arena, because of the atmosphere, which is always loud and exciting. It makes it a great place to play,” Davis added.
In December 2017, during an interview with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Davis revealed his mindset about the state of the game and how a team can win a championship in today’s NBA. He also appeared to be envious of what the Warriors have with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
All four players of those players are perennial All-Stars.
“You look at the Warriors, Cleveland, Boston,” he told ESPN. “They lose Gordon [Hayward], they’re still playing well. KD-Steph-Draymond-Klay. They play so well with each other. They move the basketball. They don’t care who scores. Steph and Draymond are out, and they still won. KD is out. They still win.
“That’s the way the league is now. I don’t see anyone winning without three or four All-Stars. … I was in the [MVP] conversation in my third year, and we didn’t win. We went to the playoffs, got swept, and I dropped out of all that so fast. It’s about winning. You can have all the numbers in the world, but you better win. That’s what it is. This whole league, everything is about winning. Every award. Everything. It’s all about winning.”
If Davis wants to win several championships within the next few years, going to the Warriors would be the most logical route. Steve Kerr would be an excellent coach for him and if the games mostly end up in a route, Davis should be well-rested before the playoffs, preventing any injuries to pop up at the most inopportune times.
Can the Warriors acquire Davis?
A player of Davis’ talents and skills comes along just once every generation. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he is on his way to the Hall of Fame when his career is over. But his legacy may take a hit without a championship ring. After being ousted in the second round of the 2018 playoffs, things may be looking up for the Pelicans who made it that far despite missing the services of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins was injured early last year and was done for the season and never got to play in the postseason. In the summer, he signed with Golden State in the hopes of winning his first ring. That move may have may swayed Davis to rethink his options when he becomes a free agent.
That’s when the Warriors can come in.
There are different scenarios that would allow them to obtain Davis from the Pelicans via a trade or as a free agent sometime in the future. But many of those scenarios involve plenty of cap maneuvering and players needing to take a pay cut or the sign-and-trade route involving Thompson and/or Green aside from a few other pieces being thrown in to make the numbers work.
Here are two trades that can work for the Warriors and the Pelicans via ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine:
1. Warriors-Pelicans Trade
Pelicans receive: Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green
Warriors receive: Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis
Warriors Analysis: While it’s true that the Warriors will practically decimate their core with this trade, they pretty much added two new key pieces in exchange, with the acquisitions of Holiday and Davis. Holiday can play both guard positions well but with Curry as his backcourt mate, this frees up the two-time Most Valuable Player to move over to shooting guard.
This would allow Steph to explode and become the league’s top scorer once again despite James Harden’s scoring spree. He could average 30 to 35 points a game by not being the team’s primary ballhandler. Davis is basically what you get in exchange for Green and Iguodala and the needle tips in favor of the Warriors.
The Dubs get more points and steals combined and almost as many rebounds, too.
2. Three-way trade between Warriors-Pelicans-Sixers
Pelicans receive: Klay Thompson and Markelle Fultz, future first-round pick
Warriors receive: Anthony Davis, Mike Muscala
Sixers receive: Draymond Green
Warriors Analysis: With this trade, the Warriors not only receive Davis but they also acquire a backup power forward in Mike Muscala who can shoot the three quite a bit which is a plus for a team like Golden State. More importantly, they retain Iguodala as part of their core. While it’s difficult to part ways with Thompson and Green at the same time, the fact that both players have struggled quite a bit this season could be a sign that the ship is slowly sinking and that a shake-up may be necessary to keep the championship champagne flowing. Green’s recent spate of injuries should be a major concern for management as well.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans get a pretty good deal with Thompson and Fultz plus a future first rounder. Thompson becomes their primary three-point threat and perimeter defender. If Fultz comes back from his injury like the All-Star point guard that he was expected to become, the team will have one of the best backcourts in the league for years to come. That’s still a big if considering how much work Fultz needs to do get back into playing shape. But the potential is certainly there.
As for the Sixers, they get one of the best defensive forwards in the league. Green will disrupt opponents’ offenses and he will quickly become a fan-favorite with his hustle and energy. As good as Joel Embiid is defensively, he will learn a lot from Green who will be determined to get back to the Finals with his new team.
Why the Warriors Shouldn’t Trade for Anthony Davis
Kawakami articulated later in the article that the Warriors aren’t exactly excited about a major change in their team’s makeup. Here’s what he had to say:
“But the Warriors have also just won back-to-back titles, riding the backs of Durant, Stephen Curry and, yes, Draymond and Klay. Add in Andre Iguodala, and those are the guys who have made this dynasty possible and set the culture, and they’re all irreplaceable.
If the Warriors had lost to Houston in the conference finals? I think Warriors management would’ve been slightly more amenable to at least considering some big deal that would’ve taken apart their foundation to try to build another one.
But not now. Warriors management has always been clear: As long as they’re winning, they will do everything they can to keep the core together, and it would be crazy not to.”
Keeping the core together is the natural thing to do until another team comes along and proves that they are no longer able to defend their title. It’s easy when you have a young core of players who understand what it takes to win and to stay on the winning track.
When the 1998 Chicago Bulls won a third straight championship, their second Threepeat of the decade, management wanted no more. As baffling as that may seem, owner Jerry Reinsdorf and GM Jerry Krause were foolishly determined to win a title without Michael Jordan or coach Phil Jackson (a preposterous idea, for sure). They decided not to retain Jackson’s services and Jordan had made it clear he wasn’t playing for any other coach in the league. He later told others that they had the right to defend their crown until somebody beat them, but the Bulls never gave them that opportunity.
The Warriors front office is thinking in the same lines as Jordan and not the Bulls organization. They will ride out this team until it loses and blow it up or tweak it just like what they did when they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals and they went after Durant.
Why the Warriors Should Trade for Anthony Davis
But if the Warriors want to be considered as the best team ever, the best route would be to trade for Davis as soon as possible. They had already shown some kinks in their armor in last year’s Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets. If not for the injury to Chris Paul, they would have been out of the championship race before the Finals for the first time in four years.
Additionally, had the calls not gone Golden State’s way in Game 1 of the Finals, the series would have looked vastly different with LeBron James and his teammates having more confidence that they can upset the Warriors. The Bay Area squad would have still won but it would have been in six or seven games.
If the Warriors lost either in the conference finals or the Finals, they would be looking at a different approach last summer. Instead of merely tweaking their lineup, Warriors owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers would have thought of making drastic changes to the team instead.
Remember, they were one loss away from being eliminated by the Rockets who had two chances to do it. Those were warning shots for the Warriors that their time at the top is shaky at best.
Putting all these into consideration, a drastic change may be what the Warriors need. If there’s a slight chance that Anthony Davis would want out of New Orleans, they should go all out in pursuing him.