As we move closer to the 2019 NBA Draft, trade rumors surrounding New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis will start heating up. Recently, there have been a number of signs pointing toward a future that involves Davis playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that the Lakers are the “leaders in the clubhouse” in trade talks involving Davis. 

In addition, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Davis’ preferred trade destinations include the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. 

Several teams have expressed interest in Davis, including the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, league sources told The Athletic. Davis submitted a four-team preferred destinations list to the Pelicans in February, featuring the Lakers, Knicks, Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks, but it is believed that list has been narrowed in focus.

Davis is now focused on the Lakers and Knicks as the two desired long-term destinations, league sources told The Athletic. Davis has not given Griffin or the Pelicans a new formal list. He will be a free agent in 2020.

Furthermore, Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, explained to Sports Illustrated in a feature story why he believes the Lakers are the best place for Davis to play. 

“My thing is: Take LeBron off the Lakers. Are the Lakers not a great destination for an arguably top-two player that went to Kentucky and won a national championship, signed with Nike? For a team that’s had centers from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq?”

“So now, when you add LeBron [James], that’s what? The cherry on top. LeBron’s 34 years old. Anthony Davis is 26. So when LeBron’s done playing, the Anthony Davis trade is still rolling. What better place to do it than L.A.? If it was L.A. — I never said ‘L.A.’ But there’s no negative to that. Who gives a s— what you’re talking about, about me trying to help LeBron out? No, I’m not. I’m trying to help Anthony Davis. Now, if helping Anthony Davis helps LeBron in the long run? So be it. But my goal is Anthony Davis.”

Whether Davis winds up getting traded to the Lakers or not remains to be seen, but these various quotes and reports do come soon after news that the Pelicans are starting to work on potential deals. Since David Griffin took over as the Pelicans’ executive vice president, he has been publicly hopeful of convincing Davis to back off his trade demand and consider staying with the Pelicans. However, it appears as though Griffin has changed his stance, as he has begun to provide potential Davis suitors with the framework of the return package that the Pelicans would like — including multi-team trades — according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The Pelicans would like to get a deal done prior to the 2019 NBA Draft, which is set for Thursday, June 20, and the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks are among that teams that have inquired about a potential Davis deal, per Wojnarowski. 

From ESPN: 

“According to front offices that have engaged in conversations with Griffin, he hasn’t sounded convinced that one team is likely to fulfill his wishes for a Davis deal. To that end, Griffin has been working to find multi-team trade scenarios that could redirect assets for players or picks more preferable to the Pelicans, sources said. 

 Griffin is pursuing a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks, league sources said. Those wants are on a sliding scale. For example, the better the player, the softer the requests on the draft picks — and vice versa.” 

Despite reports that imply urgency, however, the Pelicans aren’t in any sort of rush to move Davis, according to Griffin. 

“I don’t anticipate anything of major significance other than the meeting with Zion [Williamson] and his family,” Griffin said of the Pelicans’ schedule over the coming weeks, via Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune. “I never anticipate that. I’m open minded. I think we all are. There’s a point at which we act. If things evolve in such a way that it’s time for us to make a decision relative to Anthony Davis or any other part of the organization, we will. But we’re not in a hurry to do anything. We don’t feel there is a time sensitivity to anything we’re talking about. That includes A.D.’s desire to stay or not stay. It’s not something there’s a shot clock on.”

Where Davis ends up is arguably the biggest storyline of the upcoming offseason, right there with where Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard decide to sign as free agents. There’s a chance Davis could hook up with one of those three, perhaps with the Knicks or the Lakers, as both teams have the assets to at least entice New Orleans with a trade offer while also having the cap space to sign a max free agent. 

The Celtics were long considered the favorite to land a deal for Davis, and they still might be depending on whether Irving re-signs, which would presumably give Boston the confidence to part with their most coveted young player in Jayson Tatum — along with a lot more. Boston lost a trade chip when the Grizzlies vaulted to No. 2 in this year’s draft order. Had that pick fallen out of the top eight, it would’ve gone to Boston and been another potential top-10 pick to offer. In addition, the Sacramento pick Boston owns also didn’t do them any favors by falling in the No. 14 slot. The Clippers could be a player for Davis as well, though their package of draft picks and young players wouldn’t seem to be quite as enticing. 

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