Despite whatever drivel you’ve heard out of two major markets, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers will both desperately be seeking to make a big splash this offseason; thus, expect the bidding for Anthony Davis to include everything but the kitchen sink once trade discussions heat up — if they haven’t already behind the scenes.
After Jayson Tatum scored five magnificent points on an unforgettable dunk and subsequent three-pointer to put the Celtics ahead by one, Boston sat a mere six minutes away from a trip to the 2018 Finals. However, LeBron James and the Cavaliers quickly extinguished that dream by going on a 16-7 run to close out Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The losing squad wasn’t completely heartbroken though. Despite no Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the youth on Boston’s roster nearly accomplished the unthinkable. Tatum’s horoscope screamed future star, Jaylen Brown did not sit far behind in accolade and Terry Rozier looked like a genuine offensive force.
Fast forward to the present, the Celtics are in real danger of not deserving mention among the top four in the East. All of their key young talent took a step back. There’s a strong possibility that Boston may not field a single star on the roster at the start of next season. Even if Irving re-signs and Hayward returns to form, those occurrences alone do not seem enough ammunition to give the Celtics a fighting chance against the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers next October. Heck, we should probably throw in the Indiana Pacers, too.
Toronto, after outlasting Philly in a hard-fought seven games that required a couple of super fortuitous bounces on the rim, dismissed Milwaukee in six. Boston had only managed to nab the opener against the Bucks before bowing out with four successive clear-cut defeats. While the Celtics easily dispatched the Pacers in a sweep, remember that Indiana team was without the services of rising star Victor Oladipo.
As for the Lakers, the city of Los Angeles has been ablaze since the last trade deadline. The pursuit of Anthony Davis failed spectacularly. The playoff chase ended with a loud thud, snapping LeBron’s streak of 13 straight trips to the postseason. Magic Johnson quit in bizarre fashion. Two promising head coaches were bungled away after Luke Walton was repeatedly kicked to the curb. Baxter Holmes painted an even more dismal picture yesterday in an ESPN article which further brought to light a culture of fear, distrust and anxiety.
It was a season to forget for two famed franchises. There was an uncomfortable amount of finger pointing, damaging insults hurled at teammates and painfully obvious divisions within these revered locker rooms. However, the Celtics and Lakers eagerly await the opportunity to let bygones be bygones. The quickest way to move on from the disappointment? Add one of the best players in the league. Despite what New Orleans thinks of Davis, few are better than the guy who packed his bags months ago.
David Griffin knows all of this but so much more.
Many of those who took calculated risks, prospered. The Bucks. The Clippers. The Sixers. But the biggest shining example, the Raptors, threw the most caution into the wind when deciding to gamble on Kawhi’s one remaining year on his contract. Now, they’ll host the Golden State Warriors this Thursday, needing just one more playoff series win to be able to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
To get to the NBA Finals, Raptors President Masai Ujiri had to make a series of bets that would make a bookie blush. That he didn’t ultimately have control over how they’d turn out makes what he did even braver than what he’s getting credit for. pic.twitter.com/zI67dY6wdb— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 29, 2019
It could have been the Celtics. Boston had a chance to trade for Kawhi Leonard one year ago, but reportedly Danny Ainge balked at the idea of moving any of his best players.
Boston hasn’t included five players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. The Celtics and Sixers have offered pick-heavy packages that haven’t moved the Spurs, league sources said.
NBA executives around the league question Ainge’s reluctance to include a coveted player or two. “Assuming what we know (about their pursuit) is true, it was questionable at the time,” said one rival executive. “Now, it looks worse.”
A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. Ainge is considered one of the brightest, right?
The Lakers, on the other hand, were willing to pony up, but only after they beat around the bush too much and had dragged too many names through the mud. And honestly their real offers failed to impress enough — Lonzo Ball reportedly didn’t want to play in New Orleans and Los Angeles’ 2019 first round pick wasn’t guaranteed to fall into the lottery.
With the Pelicans currently sitting in the driver’s seat for Zion Williamson, maybe Lonzo has had a sudden change of heart. The Lakers have to be in the running for the world’s longest burning dumpster fire, and I’m sure everyone in that locker room has learned they’re expendable by now. If Ball remains reluctant about the Big Easy though, Los Angeles should be able to flip him elsewhere in return for something New Orleans values. Brandon Ingram, the fourth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a few other attractive assets has a better ring to it.
Why should the Lakers be willing to part with a lot of youth? Because LeBron’s clock has never ticked louder, and top free agents aren’t expected to knock on the front door. Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant and Kawhi all expressed concern about playing alongside James in the past, and this was before heavy plumes of smoke started rolling out of L.A. What prized free agent — who prioritizes winning — wants to take a chance on the Lakers now? It could be career suicide. Davis appears to be that lone lighthouse which can offer great assistance, shining a light to safety for a lost Laker ship drifting towards more treacherous rocks.
Expectations exist across the whole spectrum, but Los Angeles and Boston sit in the most demanding markets. The Celtics have won 17 championships to date; the Lakers, 16. No one else has more than six.
Anthony Davis is a cheat code. In the highly competitive game that is the NBA, AD is a golden ticket to skip ahead several levels. Expect the two franchises who are most desperate to change their tune and rediscover past glory to make the biggest push — regardless of the cost.