So SI did a really interesting feature on Rich Paul, you know LeBron’s right hand man and the man that runs Klutch Sports which basically means he runs the NBA. You can read it here but for the sake of this blog I want to focus on two parts of that story. That quote above and then this
“They can trade for him, but it’ll be for one year,” Paul says. “I mean: If the Celtics traded for Anthony Davis, we would go there and we would abide by our contractual [obligations] and we would go into free agency in 2020. I’ve stated that to them. But in the event that he decides to walk away and you give away assets? Don’t blame Rich Paul.”
“Where he’s going to land? I have no idea,” Paul says. “And it don’t matter. We’re going into free agency. Why does it matter to me where he goes? Earth: We’re going into free agency. He has a year, he has to play. But after that, I can’t say it no bigger: WE ARE GOING INTO FREE AGENCY. 2020: ANTHONY DAVIS WILL BE IN FREE AGENCY.”
Every Celtics fan knows Danny Ainge has had a hard on for Anthony Davis for years. He is the white whale Ainge has always been chasing, and back in February he worked his magic so that the Pelicans would hold off trading Davis until the summer when he would be able to enter the sweepstakes. As the man who holds the best actual player chip that could be included in a potential AD deal, the Pelicans waited and we sit here today right in the thick of it.
Now there are a couple ways to look at these quotes by Rich Paul. It could be another attempt at posturing, remember this isn’t the first time we’ve heard AD would not be down to go to Boston, those leaks were first released in February when Klutch tried to bully the Pelicans into trading him to LA. They’re back at it leaking how the only teams AD wants are the Lakers and Knicks, and if you think Rich Paul is going to do anything that doesn’t also benefit his best friend LeBron you’re crazy. That’s why the news of Davis firing his agent and going to Klutch was such a big deal in my opinion. That moment right there pretty much killed the Celtics chances at any sort of long term extension in my opinion.
I know it’s Ainge’s job to remain strong and not buy into this stuff, but listen I don’t know how much more direct it could be. The man’s agent is straight up saying no matter what AD is not signing an extension, and if the Celtics trade for him and give up key assets they are going to lose them for nothing. Could be bullshit, could be the truth, all I know is Ainge needs to eat it and go in a different direction. There’s not being afraid of risk and then there’s being reckless, and I think we’re starting to get closer to reckless.
Does it suck that LeBron and Rich Paul are strong arming Trader Danny? Of course, but sometimes you have to know when you’re defeated. Go with plan B, C, D because sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Anthony Davis is a top 5 player and a legit difference maker, but that means nothing if you gut your team to get him and then he bounces just like his agent has made it very clear he is going to do. I know there’s recent history with Paul George and potentially Kawhi that say it’s worth the risk, but those situations are a little different than what the Celtics are currently in and will have to give up in order to bring Davis in.
It’s also not a coincidence that right as we have negotiations, we have Rich Paul coming out and destroying leverage for the Pelicans. Maybe Ainge was willing to overpay for AD, now this comes out and who knows how that changes things. If the Celtics try and rework their offer maybe it’s no longer as good as say, the Lakers, which is exactly what Paul and LeBron want. If there’s one thing we know it’s LeBron usually gets what he wants, and it sure looks like the Pelicans are going to be forced to take the Lakers offer.
You add the uncertainly of Kyrie and his willingness to commit to the Celtics and it’s no surprise you’re seeing guys like Woj talk about how the Celts are starting to pivot away from AD. Who knows what will happen but I think every Celtics fan should get ready for a Kyrie/AD-less roster next season.