With the Trade Deadline coming and going, Anthony Davis is still in New Orleans. The star big man publicly asked for a trade from the team that he has spent his entire seven-year career with. Davis is having another all star season, averaging 29.4 points per game to go along with 13.2 rebounds per game. In short, Davis is one of the top players in the entire game and a bonafide franchise-changer. Danny Ainge has been infatuated with Davis since he came into the league prior to the 2012-2013 season. But, my guess is that you already knew that if you're reading this article.
The normal suitors are out for Davis, including the Lakers, Bucks, Clippers, and Celtics, just to name a few teams. But if we are being completely honest, we all know that it is more than likely going to come down to the Celtics and Lakers, battling it out for one of the top players in all of basketball. The Celtics have the best assets in the entire NBA. They have been gearing up to acquire a player like Davis since they decided to trade away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Again, everything has worked out perfectly for the Celtics up until this point. They were able to trade away essentially nothing for Kyrie Irving, and have drafted beautifully with the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown blossoming into budding stars. Even some role players like Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris have played key roles on this team. Furthermore, Irving publicly came out and said that he would sign an extension with the Celtics prior to the start of this season. He has wavered a bit, since this season has not exactly gone as planned, however.
Now, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this team. Irving may stay, he may not, the likes of Tatum and Brown have not gelled with some of the veterans on this team, and Gordon Hayward looks like a shell of himself. Speaking of Hayward, I think it is important to take a moment to talk about the former all star. Yes, he is the sixth highest paid player in the league. Yes, he is underperforming this season. Yes, he is not mixing well with the rest of the team. However, we have to give this guy some time. I know people talk about Paul George taking time to come back and I think we have to give Hayward the season. He has shown flashes of the player that was a mega star at Butler and changed the Utah Jazz's franchise forever. It would be a bad look to trade Hayward after everything that he has gone through. Whether people like it or not, he is going to be on this team for the foreseeable future.
So, what do the Celtics do now? To be perfectly honest, this is one of the worst positions to be in the NBA. As a Celtics fan, I don't see a clear-cut answer as to what this team should do. They are clearly better than most teams in the NBA, but they are not a true title contender. In order to get to that step, they need to trade for Davis. This is just my opinion, but I believe a team needs at least two top 10 players in the NBA in order to really contend for a title. The Celtics hoped Irving and Hayward would bring them to a championship and that may still happen. Unfortunately, right now, the Celtics cannot rely on Hayward to be anything more than a role player. Like I said before, give it the season. Now, the question arises as to whether or not Tatum and Brown can take the next steps to become top 10 players in the NBA. I do not think that Brown really deserves to be in this conversation. He is an above average player, but he is not in the same stratosphere as Tatum.
In an ideal world, you can get Davis without having to give up Tatum. With that being said, what separates the Celtics' potential offer for Davis is Tatum. No other team in the NBA can offer a player like him. When Ainge promised the Pelicans a monster offer in the offseason, we all know that it more than likely means Tatum.
I will be the first to say it, I really don't like giving up Tatum. He reminds me so much of a more athletic Paul Pierce that it is scary. However, this is all part of a much bigger storyline. If you keep Tatum and do not trade for Davis, then there is a chance that Irving leaves. You need to keep Irving happy and there have already been reports surfacing that if the Celtics were to land Davis, then that essentially assures Irving will sign the super max with Boston. According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, not only would Irving sign an extension with Boston, but he would also heavily influence Davis' decision in the Summer of 2020.
Many have stated that the Celtics should not trade away half the team in a deal for Davis if he is not willing to sign here long-term. I think that is completely fair. But I also look at the landscape of the NBA. Look at the likes of Paul George and even Kawhi Leonard, who were 100% sold on going to Los Angeles, whether it be the Lakers or the Clippers. Teams like the Raptors and Thunder went out on a limb to trade for unhappy players and to try and sell them on the culture of their franchise. And it freaking worked. You know who has a pretty good culture? The Boston Celtics.
At this point, I say go for it. Trade for Davis, which locks up Irving in Boston. Try to sell Davis on Boston next season and make a legit run on a championship. I would rather go to the NBA Finals for one season and lose rather than being the #2 or #3 team in the Eastern Conference for the next 10 years. Ainge has been stockpiling assets for years and the time to use them is now.