Updated: 3:38 p.m.
With the trade deadline a little over a week away, one of the best players in the league could be on the block.
Star big man Anthony Davis has informed the Pelicans he will not sign an extension and has requested a trade, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Davis to the Sixers is not likely. New Orleans would almost certainly ask for Ben Simmons, who, like Davis, is represented by agent Rich Paul. Simmons is eligible for a max extension this summer and it’s hard to imagine he would sign one with the Pelicans given Paul is trying to get Davis out of there.
According to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, the Sixers currently have "no plans to pursue a deal."
If there were a scenario in which you could keep Simmons and acquire Davis, the fit wouldn’t be ideal. Having a pair of star big men doesn’t seem like the best move in 2019. Plus, you’ve seen the difficulty in incorporating Jimmy Butler offensively at times. Imagine trying to integrate Davis next to Joel Embiid — though defensively that lineup would be a juggernaut.
Ruling out the Sixers, the two most likely destinations are the Lakers and Celtics. The good news for the Sixers is the timing here. Boston can’t make a deal for Davis before July because of the “Rose Rule.”
In short, the “Rose Rule” allows players coming off their rookie contracts that have made either two All-Star teams, two All-NBA teams or won an MVP to earn 30 percent of their team’s salary cap instead of the standard 25 percent on their next deal. The part of the rule that hurts the Celtics is that a team is only allowed to trade for one player that fits this criteria. So until Kyrie Irving becomes a free agent in July — or in the unlikely scenario Irving signs an extension now — Boston won’t be able to trade for Davis.
It’s fair to note that New Orleans would be wise to wait until the Celtics can get involved. Boston has better draft picks and better young players than Los Angeles. Then again, the timing could be seen as Davis wanting to play with LeBron James and the Lakers. Basically Rich Paul has given L.A. a head start and that doesn’t seem like an accident.
Bringing it back to the Sixers, this could mean the Pelicans will be open for business on players that could be of interest. While a reunion with Jrue Holiday is unlikely, a player like Elfrid Payton could make sense.
To start, he’s on a cheap, expiring contract which should be appealing to the Sixers. Payton would be a significant upgrade defensively over T.J. McConnell. He’s also been better (35 percent) and more willing (1.9 attempts per game) on threes. He’s not a star, but he’s a good depth piece and he likely wouldn’t cost much. Plus, it would just be hilarious to reacquire Payton, who was a part of one of Sam Hinkie’s most famous trades.
While Davis to the Sixers is extremely unlikely, wherever the All-NBA big goes will affect them — and likely the landscape of the entire NBA.
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