If one pays attention to Raptors president Masai Ujiri he’ll tell you he’s doesn’t just look at what’s best today, he has to look five years down the road as well, but the Anthony Davis sweepstakes represent an all-in opportunity that could elevate one team from pretender to NBA Championship contender in one swoop.
There will be competition for Davis, but both of the obvious favorites, the Celtics and the Lakers, have previously kept their hands in their pockets, unwilling to give up their hard-earned accumulated assets even for moves that could radically improve their franchises. They’ve just watched as other teams have traded for Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler and maybe they’ll just watch as other teams pursue Davis too?
As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer says,
New Orleans has options right now. The Lakers, Knicks, Bucks, and Raptors are expected to make trade offers for Davis ahead of the deadline, according to multiple front-office sources.
but the Pelicans will be taking the best offer regardless of their star player’s wishes, like the Pacers and Spurs did before them.
Take the Raptors, for example. If Raptors president Masai Ujiri were to theoretically acquire Davis for an offer including Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and other assets, they’d immediately become the favorites in the Eastern Conference. Maybe they even win it all and both Kawhi Leonard and Davis commit long term to form a potential dynasty in Toronto. Even if Davis’s agency prefers him to play in Los Angeles
Davis, above all else, wants to win. “Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him a chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s hard to foresee him leaving a team that makes a title run.
No one should be surprised if the Rockets, Nuggets, 76ers and Pacers make a play for Davis as well.
Years of going nowhere, 13 total playoff games in six seasons, and no prospects for a meaningful postseason again this year would harden any perennial All-Star’s desire to play for a winner and the Raptors have been to the playoffs for five straight years with a conference finals appearance and finished the regular season second overall in the NBA last year.
Adding Davis to a deep Raptors roster would move them from conference finals contender to heavy favorite, so Ujiri can argue adding Davis to Kawhi Leonard improves his chances of keeping both players.
However, it’ll cost Ujiri a big part of of those assets he’s accumulated for the future and some of his assets that his team has been winning with right now.
Perhaps the even riskier piece the Pels are likely to demand and get would be a future first round draft pick that would most likely be conveyed after the contracts of both Leonard and Davis have expired.
Ujiri showed us he was willing to gamble when he sent the very loyal DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Leonard who could leave after this season. So, maybe he’d gamble again? It does seem out of character for the Raptors president, but with big risks can come big returns… then there’s the lessons learned from the Brooklyn Nets experience and no one wants to go thru that.