With New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis requesting a trade ahead of the Feb. 7 NBA Trade Deadline, speculation is running rampant about where he will end up (and if he’ll even be moved). Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report doesn’t offer a piece full of Trade Machine hypotheticals, but rather an explanation of why small-market teams, like the Portland Trail Blazers, should pursue a trade for Davis.
He likens the Davis situation to that of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard:
The Portland Trail Blazers, for example, are much like last year’s Raptors: a good-but-not-great team that will make the playoffs every year but is unlikely to make a real run as presently constructed. Putting together a trade package for Davis—let’s say CJ McCollum, Zach Collins and a couple of first-round picks, but everybody not named Damian Lillard is theoretically on the table—would give them a chance to go deeper in the postseason.
Maybe Lillard would be able to convince Davis to stick around long term, which would radically alter the trajectory of the Blazers organization. Maybe Davis leaves, as most people expect him to if he’s traded anywhere besides the Lakers, Celtics or Knicks. The odds he’d sign with Portland as a free agent in 2020 would be close to zero; the Blazers’ chances of keeping him after a trade if next season goes well would be much higher than that.
The risk of Davis fleeing for free agency would make any small-market team be anxious. But, Highkin believes Davis is worth it:
These types of teams—not just the presumptive favorites—should be calling New Orleans. Like Indiana did when George wanted out, the Pelicans will make the deal that’s best for them without worrying about what Davis wants or where Klutch would prefer their client to play. Every team, even the ones with long odds at convincing Davis to stay, should be offering New Orleans the best package they can.
It’s a gamble that may backfire for whoever trades for him, but if there’s any player worth taking that chance on, it’s Davis.
You can read more from Highkin’s piece on small-market teams here.