A frontcourt pairing of Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson should be seen as the future of the NBA. It shares remnants of the 1997 draft when then 31-year old David Robinson was given second life with the lottery score of Wake Forest University big man, Tim Duncan, providing David Stern and the rest of the NBA with the most devastating 4-5 tandem in the league.
The Los Angeles Clippers as a facilitator make a ton of sense for both the Pelicans and Anthony Davis. While Davis’ primary goal was to land with LeBron and the Lakers organization, settling for the other team in LA comes with its share of advantages, namely being close to Hollywood and any bevy of entertainment and endorsement opportunities.
In addition, the Clippers are an up and coming organization hemmed by Jerry West and billionaire owner Steve Balmer, who has shown in the past two seasons that they can be trusted to make the right (though shrewd) decisions to build their franchise the right way by acquiring undervalued players and dealing overvalued ones. Doc Rivers has enjoyed his a second burst of relevance in the league as he took an overachieving squad to a comfy 48 victories and pushed Golden State harder than both the Rockets and Trail Blazers managed to in these playoffs.
But, does it make sense for the Clippers?
The Clippers have gotten here by not overpaying; they’ve done it by buying low and selling high. Anthony Davis would represent a departure from that plan; however, if the Clippers aren’t able to secure Kawhi Leonard or another big-time player in free agency, why would they “blow it up” for a guy who’s managed but one playoff series victory in seven seasons?
So, for the sake of our argument, we’ll say the Clippers plan to come to terms with Kawhi, Jimmy Butler or Kevin Durant after acquiring AD, giving them the proper motivation to give up as much as possible for the six-time All-Star.
So, do the Clippers have the ‘goods?’ It’s up to Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin to score a deal that will both coincide with 28-year-old Jrue Holiday and 18-year-old Zion Williamson’s like-mindedness.
A combination of elite, young prospects coupled with savvy veterans is precisely what the doctor has ordered for the Pelicans. Could that combination come from the Clips? Let’s dive in and work together to weigh the best possible scenarios for the former MVP and DPOY.
Any deal begins and ends with SGA. The NBA All-Rookie Second Teamer’s numbers in his first season put him in rare company. As David Grubb mentioned on our podcast (located below), SGA’s combination of usage (17.9%), true shooting percentage (55.4%) and win shares (3.3) put him in the company of Eric Gordon, Rudy Fernandez, Marcus Thornton, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas and Malcolm Brogdon.
As Kevin said, ”If we’re getting the next Marcus Thornton, I’m all in!”
His true shooting would increase in the playoff matchup with the Warriors and he posted a couple of individual spectacular lines though, he was a negative-13.4 net rating in the six games. Then again, don’t judge too harshly because a lot of his teammates fared worse.
Shai’s combination of size and skill on both ends makes him the highest upside player in this transaction and he simply must be included for the conversation to begin with. His age 20-season flew a bit under the radar, but a lot see star potential in his game.
Clippers: SGA, Shamit, Harrell, Gallo and all the picks they can send.— TheDominator (@Caffeinedisastr) May 22, 2019
But SGA is not enough.
The Clippers don’t possess the kind of draft capital like the Knicks to make future picks the basis of any deal for Anthony Davis. Their own selections — not likely to be particularly alluring if they score a FA or two — as well as a future Philadelphia pick (lottery protected) could round out the roster, but they won’t send the Pelicans the blue-chipper they need to build a core three around Jrue and Zion. The unprotected Miami pick (2021) is intriguing, but the Heat haven’t won fewer than 37 games since 2008. For reference, 37 wins gets you just the 11th-best odds (which got the Lakers the fourth pick, so maybe we should revisit this).
To win the AD sweepstakes, they’ll need more than just SGA and a combination of lower-tiered picks to blow the Pelicans away.
Enter Landry Shamet.
Shamet is another 2019 Rookie All-NBA Second Teamer and is today’s ideal catch-and-shoot wing. The 6’5 guard has enough size to offer versatility on the wing, moves off the ball with fluidity and showed great durability in playing 79 games in his first season in the league.
.@landryshamet:— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) May 21, 2019
▪️Led rookies in 3P%
▪️4th most 3PM in @NBA rookie history
▪️Franchise rookie record for most 3PM in a game
▪️Started 23 of 25 regular season games and all 6 playoff games as a Clipper
▪️All-Rookie Second Team pic.twitter.com/O1QZSg0kw7
The Dominator may be a bit greedy but can’t fault a guy for asking for the moon!
Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari are the next pieces to this puzzle. Each offer expiring deals though Harrell’s figure ($6 million) is much more palatable than Gallo’s ($22.6). Gallinari would be forced into this deal to make the accounting work should the Clippers execute the trade with AD after signing their free agents which would make sense from their perspective.
Dealing for all four of these players does not make sense from the Clippers’ perspective. They need a core to play around Kawhi and AD. Since the Pelicans are gutting them of SGA, Shamet, Harrell and Gallo, all that’s left under contract is Lou Williams, Jerome Robinson, Ty Wallace, Rodney McGruder (RFA) and Sindarius Thornwell.
No, the Clippers didn’t trade away Blake Griffin and Tobias Harris for two stars and a bunch of late round picks. They’re trying to build and maintain a culture.
Here’s my deal:
Clippers get - Anthony Davis, E’Twaun Moore
Pelicans get - SGA, Shamet, Gallo, 2021 lottery protected (LAC), additional cap space that brings them to $24 million
This gives the Pelicans the perfect complement of players to place around Jrue and Zion. Two shooters who interchangeably switch from 1-3 with the size and fluidity to create both the offense that thrives in Gentry’s system and the perimeter defense that will set Darren Erman’s heart aflame.
Gallinari had an excellent bounce back year and would be downright lethal off the bench or in a starting capacity if Shamet enters late alongside Jackson, Williams and Okafor.
The Pelicans shed Moore as Shamet and Jackson will bring much of what he does and gives the Pelicans a deal more space to work with in free agency bringing their total allotment of space upwards of $24 million.
This is a lot for the Clippers to give up. They have two promising cost-controlled players that they’d be sending a year from when they could sign AD outright for free. Asking for the Miami pick is too rich.
So, how did I do?
Weigh in below! And don’t forget to listen to each of Oleh, Grubb, Kevin and Fish’s assessments below!