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.
It’s always been the Boston Celtics.
No team has the combination of young, cost-controlled talent compounded by an endless treasure chest of draft capital. And very few teams have the market and superstar court mate that may appeal to Davis. Davis has often been linked to Kyrie Irving as the two remains close friends and speculation suggests Irving has even contacted Davis about teaming up in the past.
The Celtics present the opportunity and cash stash of endless rebuilding possibilities that sit on the Pelicans wish list. In a previous life, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin detailed his desired haul here.
And make no mistake, the Celtics are desperate. Davis represents the best selling point of convincing Kyrie Irving to stay (if that’s still what they want) and according to Adrian Wojnarowski, they’ll absolutely need to have AD in tow if they plan to make the pitch to Irving at all!
It’s up to Griffin to score a deal that will both coincide with the fit of 28-year-old Jrue Holiday and 18-year-old Zion Williamson while storing extra sustenance in the coffers.
A combination of elite, young prospects coupled with savvy veterans is precisely what the doctor has ordered for the Pelicans. Could the best combination of that come from Boston? Let’s dive in and work together to weigh the best possible scenarios for the former MVP and DPOY.
Pels get: #14, Memphis pick, future Boston pick, Tatum, smart, sabonis— David Anthony (@David_LeBoeuf) May 24, 2019
Pacers get: jaylen Brown
Celtics get: AD
Any and all packages start and stop with Jayson Tatum. The 20-year-old carries the superstar swagger that the Pelicans would simply love to place alongside Zion and Tatum has already shown he can more than carry his weight on the big stage going for 18.5 points and 4.4 rebounds on 47.1% shooting in 19 playoff games as a rookie.
Once the young man leans away from a diet of 20-footers, he can use his nimble feet to get to the rim at will as he did his rookie season. And Tatum has already acknowledged — nay, embraced — the possibility of being traded to New Orleans.
But Tatum is not nearly enough of a return given his second season regression. The Pelicans will need some combination of Tatum and a boatload of picks, or more likely, Tatum and Brown/Smart with some picks in the latter half of the first sprinkled in.
The above trade suggestion is a popular one, but I’m not sure how well Sabonis pairs next to Zion. Sabonis is a unique talent at his position and put in a tidy 20.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per 36 minutes this season. However, he is not my perfect complement to Zion. In my dream scenario, the Pelicans pair Zion with floor spacers, and Sabonis is certainly not that. The big man has not attempted more than one three-point shot per game since his rookie season, where he shot 32%. He does dominate the paint at 59% from the floor, but I envision a world where Zion operates both defensively and offensively like Draymond Green, and to do that, he’ll need to both penetrate and kick.
While this may break the hearts of both Fish and David Anthony alike, I’ll pass on Domantas Sabonis.
Tatum Brown Smart 14th and 22nd this year and Memphis pick— Frank Sahwit (@FSahwit) May 24, 2019
This is my slam dunk.
Tatum carries the superstar swagger, but Jaylen Brown is the elite 3-and-D wing every team can use. With deliciously interchangeable size (6’7, 7’0 wingspan) and a January net-rating of +14.2 (15 games), Brown is the perfect representative of what a two-way player can do. On the month as a whole he finished with 14.1 points and five rebounds on 49% and 41.8% from three in just 25 minutes per game!
Many have begun debating the third-year veteran’s value in relation to Tatum’s and I strongly believe it’s worth investigating further, especially when comparing a talent like Brown to a meager draft in which the Celtics have not one selection within the lottery.
The Celtics own the rights to the Grizzlies’ 2020 top-six protected pick (that could become an unprotected 2021 asset), and it’ll be interesting to see how Mike Conley Jr. works out with Ja Morant and second-year pro Jaren Jackson Jr. While the Grizzlies could deal Conley and implode, they’d have little incentive to do so, and we’ve seen how losing can be a difficult place to escape for bottom dwellers like the Knicks, Cavs, Hawks and Suns.
In all likelihood, the Grizzlies pick will fall right around ten. If it comes between that and Brown, give me Brown and some of the Celtics’ collection of less desirable selections like the 14th, 20th and 22nd.
Smart is another must in my opinion. Seventh in defensive plus-minus and 13th overall at the point guard position, Smart earned First Team All-Defense for the first time in his career this season and boy, oh boy, what would he look like alongside Jrue Holiday.
Tatum, Smart, Brown, 14th selection (via SAC), 2020 BOS first (unprotected), 2022 BOS first (top-10 protected)
This deal gives the Pelicans players to build around Jrue and Zion while keeping them respectable. It also gives plenty of draft capital to continue building a contending team going forward and giving Griffin plenty of ammunition to build upon.
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!