Anthony Davis answered nearly 15 minutes of questions on Saturday, about his future, his trade demands and other teams he might play for.
Then, after a question about teaming up with LeBron James, which Davis will do in Sunday’s All-Star game, a staffer from the agency that represents him decided to shut it down.
“If anyone has any All-Star questions, that’ll be it,” she said. “And then, we’re getting up.”
If Davis and his team at Klutch Sports are trying to push the superstar forward from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Lakers, the messaging was off.
During his media availability, Davis called the New York Knicks a “great franchise” before reminding everyone that a smaller market such as Milwaukee is on his list too. That “list” — reportedly the places where Davis would sign a contract extension — surfaced in the days leading up to the trade deadline.
The Clippers were on it, as were the Bucks and Knicks. And the Lakers, of course.
But Saturday, there was a new revelation. The Boston Celtics, the team best equipped to put together a blockbuster trade offer this summer, “are on my list,” he said.
“I never said Boston wasn’t on my list,” he said.
Once his time on the podium was finished, Davis went on NBA TV and made the pool even bigger, saying there are 29 teams on his list.
In other words, every team but New Orleans.
“I don’t know how I long I’m going to play this game. I want to make sure that I have a chance to win,” Davis said. “I want to win — no matter where it is. I have no preferred destination.”
This, if true, is not good news for the Lakers.
In the build to the trade deadline, Davis and his management team had a plan, and that road seemed to point to the Lakers.
That original list? Milwaukee doesn’t have the assets, outside of All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, to make a deal for Davis. Same goes for the Knicks, who sent one top asset, Kristaps Porzingis, to Dallas and won’t have another asset, their first-round pick in the upcoming draft, fully mature until after the lottery order is figured out. The Clippers? They weren’t thrilled at the possibility of gutting their roster for Davis, only to possibly watch him stroll down the hall to the Lakers once he hits free agency.
With the Celtics prohibited from acquiring Davis while Kyrie Irving is playing under the same rookie extension contract, the Lakers were the only place that made sense. The deck was stacked for the Lakers, and the team put its best offer — essentially all its young players and multiple draft picks — on the table. And New Orleans didn’t budge.
The Lakers might have had the best offer available to the Pelicans in early February, but it’s not as clear if that will be the case this summer. Boston can offer second-year star Jayson Tatum — especially if the Celtics think Davis is open to re-signing with them — and plenty of first-round draft picks. Around NBA scouting circles, Tatum is seen as more of a sure thing than anyone the Lakers are offering, and with a greater upside, too.
More teams could get involved, especially if they believe winning is more important to Davis than the market he’s playing in.
The best chance for the Lakers might have been at the trade deadline, when other suitors might have been scared off by Davis’ short list at the time.
Davis still said he intends to test free agency in 2020, when he can opt out of his current contract. It’s clear, based on what Davis said Saturday, that winning is a priority after six and a half seasons in New Orleans and just two trips to the playoffs.
“Market doesn’t matter to me. I just want to win,” Davis said. “Big market, small market; it doesn’t matter. My focus is on winning at this point in my career, wherever that may be.”