By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA offseason was already going to be a wild one. The Pelicans winning the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night creates even more uncertainty to the league’s silly season.
It also makes life more difficult for the Celtics if they want to pull off a summer blockbuster.
The No. 1 overall pick was expected to be one of the biggest and best assets for the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers to use in an Anthony Davis trade this summer. But the Knicks (third overall pick) and Lakers (fourth) went home disappointed Tuesday night, when that top pick went to the Pelicans, who don’t need to trade for Davis.
And now that they’ve won the rights to draft Duke’s Zion Williamson, new Pelicans VP of basketball ops. David Griffin wants to hang on to their franchise star and try to convince him to stay in New Orleans long-term. Per Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:
“Griff was never going to trade AD,” a rival general manager told Bleacher Report on Tuesday night, referring to David Griffin, the Pelicans’ new executive vice president of basketball operations. “That’s why he got the job.”
Two other executives in the league confirmed that theory to B/R. One also confirmed a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Griffin spent the hours after the lottery scouring the league for players to pair with Davis, not seeking scenarios to trade him.
That’s all well and good, but Davis’ stance hasn’t changed even after the Pelicans got the No. 1 pick. He reportedly still wants out of New Orleans, so we’ll see who ends up winning this standoff. Spoiler alert: It’s usually the player.
Where does this leave the Celtics if they want to acquire Davis? It’s kind of tricky.
While it’s great news for Boston that New York and Los Angeles didn’t get the No. 1 overall pick, which likely could have given them the edge in any Davis sweepstakes, they both landed a decent asset Tuesday night that they can include in their trade packages. The Celtics, on the other hand, did not, coming up one ping pong ball short of the fourth overall selection. While the third and fourth overall picks aren’t as intriguing as the first overall pick, the lure of adding another top selection may put New York or L.A. over the top should New Orleans decide to trade Davis ahead of the June 20 draft. The Lakers have young players like Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball to offer, while the Knicks can add Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr. to any of their deals.
As for the Celtics, they have the 14th, 20th and 22nd overall picks in this year’s draft, but their most intriguing asset is the future Memphis Grizzlies pick (top-6 protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021). Memphis received the second overall pick on Tuesday night and will likely draft point guard Ja Morant, opening the door for a Mike Conely trade and another rebuilding season for the Grizzlies. That’s should help the value of Boston’s future asset, which has the chance of being a better pick than the one the Knicks or Lakers could offer this summer.
The Celtics may still be able to best the trade offers from the Lakers or Knicks, but they’re no longer the front-runner. It’s will likely cost them something along the lines of Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and other, plus a handful of those picks to get a deal done. Danny Ainge is still reportedly willing to sell the farm for Davis, believing it will convince Kyrie Irving to sign in Boston long-term. But with Irving, you never know.
This is going to be a wild and unpredictable summer for the NBA. Whatever happens, the results of Tuesday night’s lottery made things a little more complicated for any team hoping to trade for Anthony Davis this summer.