It all goes down tonight.
We’ve been waiting for this moment pretty much since Anthony Davis made his trade demand back on January 29th, and a little bit after 7:00 pm CST we’ll finally see the end result.
While the Jrue Krewe gave us a thrilling 8-8 run, winning in the draft by any means necessary became the primary goal for a team without any kind of significant free agent luck in its brief history. Of course, the overall lack of drama has coincided with a fan base tired of losing.
Make no mistake, the Pelicans need to win today, and they need to win big.
The Pelicans can hope for a 6% chance of winning the rights to Zion Williamson, but hell, we’d be thrilled with the 26.3% at a top-four selection which could score the Pelicans a shot at Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett or the Pelicans’ choice of Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter, Coby White, Jaxon Hayes, Cam Reddish or Darius Garland.
But that aside, a lot more rests on tonight’s lottery than just the Pelicans’ selection. The Pelicans have to hope a potential trade partner wins big, but not too big. Zion Williamson is arguably the most sought after talent since Anthony Davis — if not Lebron James, transcending even Greg Oden and Kevin Durant in that regard.
Any team (sans the Lakers) would more likely than not be foolish to mortgage that future over one potential year of Anthony Davis. While many point to the New York Knicks as a secondary contender for that potential swap, it would take a significant amount of faith on their part that they could dominate free agency with two superstars to pair with AD.
But if we really ask ourselves, what are the chances in hell of that happening?
No, the Pelicans have to hope a win-now team desperate enough to take the gamble secures a top-four pick and levies it against the former top-three finalist for both MVP and DPOY just one season removed.
Teams in consideration of such a risk?
Obvious reasons we don’t need to spell out here. They’re coming off a disappointing season and are seemingly on the verge of losing Kyrie Irving
LeBron James first season in blue and gold was more laughable than anyone could have ever imagined.
The Hornets are preparing for the possibility of a supermax offer for Kemba Walker, one of the most polarizing topics of free agent discussion this offseason. Kemba is a great fallback option for those who whiff on Kyrie including the Knicks and Lakers, among others. If the Hornets have any chance of retaining him beyond blind loyalty, they’ll need a superstar frontcourt mate to pique Kemba’s interest.
Miami is in luxury tax prison. They have no way of adding outside talent as many of their veterans are overpriced and Goran Dragic seems near certain to exercise his player option. Hassan Whiteside is immovable and Bam Adebayo has surpassed him the lineup. A package of the Heat’s top-four selection coupled with Bam and one of Justise Winslow or Josh Richardson could be enough to sway Pelicans’ brass.
The Wizards are stuck financially with $75 million being promised to both John Wall and Bradley Beal next season. Wall seems unlikely to play at all due to his torn ACL. While the Wizards could recoup a bit financially with the likely departures of Dwight Howard and Jabari Parker, they’ll still likely seek to re-sign restricted veterans Tomas Satoransky and Bobby Portis as well as Trevor Ariza. To do that and maximize Bradley Beal before his contract expires in two years, they’ll need a big swing to net a home run. Anthony Davis presents that option, especially if they can convince the Pelicans to take back Ian Mahinmi in exchange for future draft capital.
Team unlikely to find interest in Davis?
Cleveland, Atlanta, Phoenix, Atlanta, Memphis, Minnesota and Dallas
These teams just don’t find themselves on a timeline that matches Anthony Davis’ ‘win-now’ mentality and would be downright crazy to risk so much to acquire him. Dallas could be in consideration even though they’ve already given up the farm for Kristaps Porzingis (something they may come to regret).
While Dallas’ pick is currently in Atlanta’s possession, it stays home if they can manage to end up in the top-five and a Ja Morant for Davis swap could be feasible on paper. However, it seems unlikely the Mavericks would take that risk when they’ve already given up so much for Kristaps, who has yet to sign a long-term offer. Even should he lock up long term, marrying him to four more years of Luka Doncic and five years of Morant seems the safer play.
So there it is. The Pelicans need a lot to fall right tonight, but if it does, the Pelicans could hold one of the more promising young cores in the NBA — with five-years of time to develop and grow the two first round talents together. While the possibility still remains that the Pelicans will simply make a deal with Boston for Tatum and/or Brown, Pelicans’ fans can’t help but be a bit hesitant to sell off Davis after their meager postseason performances.
No, newer is always better...or at least more exciting! Let’s hope the Pels end up in the top-four and a potential mate ends up right alongside of them!
Let’s geaux, Pels!