With Anthony Davis on the Way Out, Should the Pelicans Press Reset?

Should the Pelicans wait on the Anthony Davis deal? Should they make a move at the trade deadline? Should they rebuild? Chris Mannix and Brian Scalabrine debate on the latest episode of The Crossover NBA Show.
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The Anthony Davis trade request caused a major stir around the league, leading to major speculation about where Davis could land and who could be traded in exchange for his services. Once the original shock wore off, though, the conversation started to shift toward LeBron, the Lakers and Klutch Sports. On The Crossover podcast, Chris Mannix and Brian Scalabrine take a deep dive into what the Lakers could offer and consider how the Pelicans should move forward. 

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Chris Mannix: It got a little wilder earlier on Monday when the report came out via ESPN that Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, and now we have the Anthony Davis sweepstakes prepared to begin. To talk about that, it's pleasure to welcome back Brian Scalabrine, the great NBA analyst for NBA Radio Sirius XM. You can hear him in the morning there, you can see him on NBC Sports Boston on the Celtics broadcast. 

Brian Scalabrine: When the news broke, it kind of broke the Internet. And it's great that LeBron James could talk without saying a word. It's unbelievable. 

Mannix: So give me your first reaction when you saw the news that, a couple weeks before the trade deadline, Anthony Davis was making his official trade demand. 

Scalabrine: First, I thought why would New Orleans do this? I want to be transparent with all you guys out there. I want Anthony Davis to come to Boston. Of course, I'm sitting there calling games, why wouldn't I want to call games with Anthony Davis? So I first thought this is no news, because why would New Orleans do something like this now when they can wait until the offseason? Everyone probably knows that the Celtics cannot trade for Anthony Davis at this point because of the Kyrie Irving contract. The Celtics are not a part of this conversation, and you think LeBron knows that? Absolutely he knows that.

So I start going through the Lakers, I start going through the players, then I start going through the most important thing, which is the expiring contracts that they have. And actually after I looked at it, they have a pretty decent amount of pieces that they can send New Orleans's way if New Orleans is also looking to dump a few salaries. So they can get a bunch of young players, they can get really lean and they can get future draft picks and then at the end of the day the Lakers are the only team that is actually able to trade for Anthony Davis right now. I'm assuming that Rich Paul would say to all the other teams, all the other 28 teams that are available out there, 'My client is not re-signing with you.' Which significantly lowers the prospects that you will get. 

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Mannix: Yes, Anthony Davis has a lot of power in this situation. My first reaction was that this was all tailored toward the L.A. Lakers, that this was now giving the Lakers a two-week head start. Because, Scal, there was a way that Anthony Davis could've handled this where he might have avoided being the villain in New Orleans. I think that matters to him, I think his image in that area, I think it matters to him. He could have played out this season, gone into July and just simply rejected that supermax contract extension, because if you do, that has the same result as a trade demand. He could have done all that, but because there is, I think, an emphasis, at least within his team, to try to get him to the Lakers.

This trade demand came about now because they know, as you said, because of the rule that says you can't have two players with the type of contracts that Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis have, the Celtics cannot get into the mix, at least not realistically, until this offseason. This was tailored to entirely for the Lakers. But to me, Scal, why? Even if you think Anthony Davis really wants to be in L.A., if you're Dell Demps, the GM of the Pelicans, why in a million years, would you make a deal before July 1st? This is Herschel Walker, this is probably going to be the biggest trade in NBA history when it comes to what assets are coming back that we've ever seen. So why, even if you think it's unlikely Anthony Davis will accept a trade to Boston, why would you take Boston--which we both know is desperate to get Anthony Davis--why would you take them out of the equation? If they make this deal before the deadline, to me it's almost malpractice by Dell Demps and that organization. 


Scalabrine: This is what you just said. Watch me change your mind. The Lakers have expiring deals, Caldwell-Pope. You know you can't trade Caldwell-Pope at the end of the year. You have expiring Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, all these little contracts that add up that you will not be able to move later. Here where I'm not sure about New Orleans and what they want to do: Do they want to get ultra lean or do they want to try to compete? I don't know, because I also feel like Dell Demps by doing this is kind of signing his death warrant, so why is he going to do this trade so the next guy looks like genius when all these players end up being really good. So I do think there a little bit of, 'If I do trade Anthony Davis and they fire me, all I'm doing is doing it for the next guy.' There is job preservation going on here.

But here's the reason why New Orleans makes that deal now: Because at the offseason, whether it be the Celtics or the Lakers, they just don't have that much salary to shed. So it's like you can't add up the numbers to make it high enough to take on a Jrue Holiday and a Solomon Hill and maybe throw an E'Twaun Moore in that. So how lean does New Orleans want to get. If you start adding up all these pieces, New Orleans could shed all kinds of contracts, take on a bunch of expirings and then have a bump of assets moving forward. And that is the only reason why you make the trade now, and by the way it would also screw the Lakers moving forward. And I'm not saying the Lakers would do this, but it would screw the Lakers moving forward in going out there and signing another marquee name. Now that guy could just be Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore. So I don't know what they want to do, New Orleans. I don't know if Dell Demps wants to sign his death warrant. But I do know this: If they want to get ultra, ultra lean going into free agency, going into selling the team, then I would believe that they would make the trade before the deadline. Now did I convince you that's a good reason why? 

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Mannix: No, you didn't. 

Scalabrine: I thought you would be all over New Orleans hitting the reset button. 

Mannix: I am in favor of that. In fact, I think that in a weird way this could turn out to be great for New Orleans, because what has the Anthony Davis era yielded them to this point? It's gotten them into the playoffs twice and smoked in the first round by Golden State. 

Scalabrine: But a lot of that was Rajon Rondo, which they lost because they're a small market and Rondo went to L.A.

Mannix: So you have two playoff appearances with Anthony Davis, and I'm not putting this on Anthony Davis because the Pelicans have mismanaged their way to this point. Being a successful team, and especially a successful small market team, it's not rocket science. You either hit on your draft picks or you don't. And Oklahoma City and San Antonio more often than not, they hit on their draft picks. Memphis and New Orleans, they either miss on their draft picks like Memphis has over the years or they trade away their draft picks like New Orleans has over the years to try to get established talent. One of the reasons not to go ultra lean and bottom up this season is that there's a pretty broad consensus, Scal, from what I hear, that this year's draft, the 2019 draft, is not a particularly deep one and it not an extraordinarily talented one. So if you're going to bottom up before the trade deadline ostensibly to get a high draft pick in June, maybe this really isn't the year to do it. 

Now you mentioned Dell Demps, I think his death warrant is already signed as the general manager of the Pelicans. Mickey Loomis, who has got a lot of power there in New Orleans with the Saints and the Pelicans, he's come out and said it last summer. It's time to win, and they're not winning. And you and I both know Dell Demps has been in trouble at various times over the last few years, I don't think he survives this one way or the other. And if he's not going to be your long-term general manager, isn't smart on some level to let him go at the end of the season and then bring in a new GM who would deal with this? The guy that's going to chart the path of your franchise going forward should deal with this. Doesn't that have some value to the Pelicans?

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Scalabrine: Let me just ask you this question: Would you want to involve Jrue Holiday in this trade if you're New Orleans? Would you want to get off that $100 million owed to him? What's the value of Jrue Holiday if he's not attached to Anthony Davis? I know the team that's willing to take on that number and I know the team that can do it now, that is the Lakers. That's it. The Celtics won't take on Jrue Holiday's $25 million contract. I guarantee you that. LeBron knows this. Rich Paul knows this. They are going to put the screws to Dell Demps and force him to make the trade right now... if New Orleans wants to get lean, which I don't even know if they do or don't. 

Mannix: You say you want to attach that Jrue Holiday contract to Anthony Davis. Why can't you do that on July 1st? Into that Lakers space. Why wouldn't the Lakers take him on July 1st? You're assuming they're going to get somebody this summer. I survey the landscape often. I did a lot with Kawhi Leonard, I've looked at the Jimmy Butler stuff, the Kevin Durant stuff. I'm not sure I'd say the Lakers are a favorite to get anybody at this point when you talk about the top-tier free agents. 

Scalabrine: Does it change if you have Anthony Davis? It has to. Let me tell you, I'm in Boston right now and I love Kyrie. I love watching him, I want to watch him for the next five years. He's coming back, I feel 100 percent confident in that... unless Anthony Davis goes to L.A. And now my stomach turns. I would worry about that. He's already doubled down about coming back. I know you know this, I don't know if the people know this. Him and Anthony Davis are boys. I think they text like every day. When I say they're boys, I think they're boys, boys. So I'd be worried about that. You called LeBron the other day and asked how to be a leader and apologized, that would start to get my stomach really upset. If the Lakers do it right, they could absorb the Jrue Holiday stuff later, but then I'm wondering how much assets are willing to give up to get him. For me, I'd wonder if I want to get lean right now. You have a chance right now and the Lakers have to sell the farm, every young player, picks moving forward. That's a lot of things they'd have to give up to get him.