The Pelicans reportedly want the Lakers to keep bidding against themselves for Anthony Davis, and it could lead to an unprecedented haul

Meg Oliphant/Getty ImagesHow far will Magic Johnson and the Lakers go to get Anthony Davis?
  • The New Orleans Pelicans want a monster offer from the Los Angeles Lakers for Anthony Davis that includes young players and as many as four first-round and second-round picks, according to a report.
  • The trade negotiations have reportedly been one-sided, and a recent report said the Pelicans want the Lakers to bid against themselves to land Davis before the trade deadline.
  • The Lakers are motivated to trade for Davis before the trade deadline because the Boston Celtics, the top suitors for Davis, can make a trade offer in the offseason.
  • That could force the Lakers to give up the type of monster package for Davis that has been lacking in recent superstar trades.

If the Los Angeles Lakers want to land Anthony Davis, they may have to make a historic offer to the New Orleans Pelicans.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans want an overwhelming return for Davis that includes young players and as many as four first-round and second-round draft picks. The Pelicans want a player they deem as All-NBA-worthy or with the potential to make an All-NBA team in the future, according to Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski reported on Monday that the Lakers made the Pelicans an offer based around Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, and two future first-round picks. That represents a step up from the Lakers’ original proposal, which reportedly included two of the three players Ball, Kuzma, and Ingram, plus picks.

It still might not be enough, however. Wojnarowski reported that the trade discussions have been one-sided and said on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Tuesday that the Pelicans are content to let the Lakers bid against themselves.

“The Pelicans haven’t even countered any of the Lakers offers yet,” Wojnarowski said. “And, in fact, I’m told the Pelicans would like for the Lakers to just keep bidding against themselves.”

The Lakers are motivated to get a deal done before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Boston Celtics, the team widely regarded as being able to make the Pelicans the best offer, cannot trade for Davis this season because of an obscure NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement rule.

Lebron anthony davisHarry How/Getty Images

Davis’ camp said the Lakers are his preferred destination – the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks also made the list, but many believe those teams can’t offer what the Pelicans want. Davis putting out the word that he wants to go to the Lakers could scare off other teams from making their best offers.

But if the Pelicans don’t trade Davis by the deadline, it could be bad news for the Lakers. By extending the window into the spring and summer, the Pelicans could field offers from the Celtics and teams that can offer high draft picks.

That could force the Lakers into bending to the Pelicans’ will and giving up a historic package that features multiple first-round and second-round draft picks, and three or four of their young players, plus veterans to match salaries. The Lakers would have to take several Pelicans players to fill out their roster, as well.

Such a return for Davis would be welcome news to teams around the NBA. As star players have been increasingly exerting their power over franchises by asking for trades with the threat of leaving in free agency, teams have been forced to scramble to get value back for their departing players, while negotiating from a weakened position.

In many recent cases, the returns for departing star players have ranged from “meh” too bad. Teams have struggled to get both draft picks and young players who turn out to be good.

Read more:
The NBA’s recent history of trading superstars is a bad omen for the Pelicans

While most players aren’t Anthony Davis, if the Pelicans can get a healthy return of young players and draft picks, it could shift the market going forward.

The Pelicans are in a position to keep the Lakers sweating, too. As Jalen Rose said on the morning show “Get Up!” on ESPN, the Pelicans could say they don’t need to make a deal now because the Lakers’ package likely won’t change in three or four months – the same players and picks would be there. The Pelicans could threaten to hold onto Davis so they can open up discussions with other teams in the offseason, then return to the Lakers’ offer if they want.

There is a risk in that, too. With each day, Davis gets closer to free agency. The Pelicans could see the quality of offers dwindle in the offseason if teams feel there’s too much risk in Davis leaving in free agency in 2020. Even the Celtics could reduce their offer if they are worried about Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston.

Read more:
Anthony Davis’ league-shaking trade request has thrown a wrench in the Celtics’ master plan

With the deadline just two days away, it increasingly feels like the Pelicans and Lakers could engage in a staring contest, waiting for the other team to blink. The Lakers will have to analyse just how much they want to mortgage their future to get Davis now, and the Pelicans will have to test how far they can push the Lakers before they risk losing an already giant offer.

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