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Why the Raptors have a realistic shot at trading for Anthony Davis

It’s official: New Orleans Pelicans centrepiece Anthony Davis has hit the trade market. This is very big news.

Davis is not the first disgruntled star to find himself in trade rumours this year. Bradley Beal; Kevin Love; Marc Gasol; Mike Conley – these are all big names to watch on next Thursday’s trade deadline. And who can forget about what happened with Jimmy Butler.

Make no mistake about it, though. Anthony Davis is far better than all of the names just listed. Whichever team sells the farm for him is going to be getting a game-changer. He is an absolute terror at both ends of the court.

Through 41 games with the Pelicans this season, Davis has averaged 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. He is a five time All-Star; has made three All-NBA teams, and three All-Defensive teams. He is only 25 years of age.┬áThe next chapter of Anthony Davis’ career and where he ends up has the potential to drastically shape the immediate future of the NBA landscape. He is a generational talent.

A report has just come out that the Toronto Raptors are expected to make a trade offer for Davis.

This isn’t unexpected at all. If it wasn’t already clear that Masai Ujiri is not afraid of taking big swings, the bold move to acquire Kawhi Leonard this past July has made it crystal. The Raptors have already been involved in trade rumours all season long; last being linked to Washington’s Bradley Beal.

The exciting part about this news isn’t that Toronto is looking to partake in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes – the exciting part is that it actually makes sense. The Raptors are second in betting odds to land him, and for good reason.

It’s easier to win an auction if there are less suitors at the auction house, right? Take a look at the other contending-type teams that are in a position to even be interested in trading for Anthony Davis.

The Celtics have been linked to Davis for over a year, but because of a stipulation in Kyrie Irving’s contract, they are legally not allowed to trade for him at least until this summer.

The 76ers already gave up their most movable pieces for Jimmy Butler. Unless they’re willing to give up Ben Simmons (they’re not), they have no realistic way of acquiring Davis.

The Bucks’ best trade pieces (Middleton, Brogdon, Bledsoe) are all on expiring deals.

I could go on. In my opinion, the only teams in a position to seriously make an offer for Anthony Davis before next week’s trade deadline are the Lakers, Raptors, Nuggets, and maybe the Clippers, in that order.

The Lakers are the obvious favourites – it’s already been made clear that Davis intends to sign with them in the summer of 2020. It sounds like they intend to pursue him very aggressively.

But, as we saw with Kawhi Leonard; players under contract have little control over where they get traded to. New Orleans doesn’t care where Davis intends to go next summer. They just want the best deal they can get. And it’s completely possible that the Raptors have that.

The possibility of Davis to Toronto depends largely on two things

1. How much do the Pelicans value Pascal Siakam?

2. How much of the young core are the Lakers willing to part with?

Pascal Siakam just might have the most trade value of any single player currently in danger of being traded for Anthony Davis. He is currently a better player than any of Kuzma, Ball, Ingram, Hart, and Zubac. But is he better than three of them? Here’s where things get tricky.

Offer 1: Pascal Siakam + OG Anunoby + Jonas Valanciunas + cap filler + picks

Offer 2: Lonzo Ball + Kyle Kuzma + Ivica Zubac + cap filler + picks

If I’m New Orleans, I’m taking Offer 1. And if I’m Toronto, knowing what Anthony Davis is capable of, I think I’m comfortable making Offer 1.

Also note that I didn’t just make up that offer from LA.

The trade offer from the Raptors’ side listed above is completely my own speculation. I don’t think New Orleans does any deal without Siakam in it. After that, however, I have no idea. New Orleans might have interest in VanVleet, or maybe Powell or Wright. Who knows? Maybe even switch Valanciunas with Ibaka.

The point is this: everyone not named Kawhi Leonard is on the table.

Don’t sleep on the Nuggets

There is always one logical team not being talked about enough as a trade destination. It was Toronto throughout the Kawhi Leonard saga, and it’s the Denver Nuggets right now. Though they’re somewhat of a “nouveau riche” team, they’re loaded with tradeable guard talent on great contracts. They could trade two of Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris and still have solid guard depth. They also have a tremendous young superstar in Nikola Jokic to help recruit Davis to stay.

The Nuggets are in a position to take the risk that OKC and Toronto did with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, respectively. Don’t forget about them.

Risks for the Raptors?

Yes, there are some risks. Messing up a trade of this calibre could devastate the franchise. The Raptors already have one superstar with links to LA to worry about. Losing Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis in consecutive years would be brutal.

It is worth noting, however, that Anthony Davis has another year on his contract. If Kawhi walks this summer, there would be nothing stopping Toronto from trading Davis (to Boston, perhaps?) and recouping as many assets as possible. It’s also pretty reasonable to assume that trading for Davis would increase the odds of re-signing Kawhi. And if Kawhi re-ups, why would Davis want to leave?

Still, let’s not get too caught up in the what-ifs. The trade deadline is next week, so the Anthony Davis sweepstakes might end as quickly as they began. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

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