The Most Important Team in Anthony Davis Trade Scenarios Is … the Memphis Grizzlies

Jan 29, 2019 07:45 PM EST
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Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis

  • Teams will be lining up to trade for Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis after reports came out Monday morning that he's looking to leave New Orleans.
  • The Lakers, Celtics and Knicks will be discussed ad nauseum over the coming months. But the most important team to a deal might be ... the Memphis Grizzlies.

As our own Matt Moore explained here, the Boston Celtics, potentially a major player in an Anthony Davis trade, are unable to acquire the Pelicans star before the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline because of a CBA rule.

The Celtics have a wealth of young talent to offer New Orleans in exchange for Davis, but presumably draft picks will be discussed. And since the Celtics can’t trade right now, their most valuable pick asset — the first-rounder owed to them by the Memphis Grizzlies — may or may not be available to the Celtics in trade talks.

Let me explain.

The Celtics are owed Memphis’ first-round draft pick this year, which is protected for selections 1-8 this upcoming summer. It’s protected 1-6 in 2020 and is unprotected in 2021. It’s an extremely valuable asset for the Celtics.

Here’s the problem: If the Grizzlies elect to not trade Mike Conley and Marc Gasol before Feb. 7, it’s possible they move out of the top eight and thus conveying the pick this summer. The 2019 NBA Draft is on June 20, which means the Celtics will use it before they’re able to make any offer for Davis, which can occur only on July 1 or later.

Right now, the draft pick is right on the line in terms of probability of being conveyed. FiveThirtyEight is currently projecting the Grizzlies for 36 wins — tied with the Mavericks for seventh-lowest in the NBA. If they trade Conley and Gasol, they’ll likely tank and Boston will get to use the asset in trade talks in July. If they stay in Memphis, it’ll be close to whether it conveys or not.

The Celtics still have a ton of assets to throw into a trade package, but not having that Grizzlies pick could definitely change the conversation. Does it allow them to not include young star Jayson Tatum in the deal? It’s unclear whether Tatum is actually on the table in a Davis deal, but having that high draft pick would definitely make talks easier.

There currently aren’t odds posted on the Grizzlies trade situation, but I’d be skeptical those players are dealt in the next two weeks. Gasol is the hardest to trade, as presumably only teams in the playoff race would be interested in acquiring him, and those teams largely don’t have strong needs at center.

The list of teams interested in Conley are likely larger — the Pacers, who just lost Victor Oladipo for the season, are an interesting rumor — but it remains to be seen whether teams would want to give up a ton of assets for an aging vet on an expensive contract.

Right now it seems like a 50/50 proposition on whether that pick will be in the Celtics’ trove of assets this summer. And that could mean the difference between giving up a young stud already on the roster or not.

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