The Celtics reportedly told the Pelicans they’ll discuss trading anyone besides Kyrie Irving for Anthony Davis this summer. Boston can’t pair Irving and Davis until then, because both are currently designated rookie scale players who’d be acquired via trade.
But what about Jayson Tatum? He’s the single most valuable player repeatedly mentioned as possible return for Davis. Would the Celtics really deal Tatum?
The Celtics have refused to directly dangle Jayson Tatum, two sources familiar with the situation told SI.com, but the Pelicans have been left with the impression that if Davis remains on the roster past Thursday, nothing is off the table.
Teams value trading for Davis while he he still has two postseasons remaining, planning to either use him for both and hoping to re-sign him or use him for the 2019 playoffs then flipping him before the 2020 deadline. The Pelicans can get a huge offer from the Lakers now.
Waiting for Boston would be a big risk for New Orleans.
It’s certainly one that can pay off. The Celtics appear motivated to get Davis, even amid uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving. Tatum would be a prize. Boston has enough assets to make a compelling offer even without including Tatum.
But what if other teams, no longer getting the value of having Davis for the 2019 playoffs, lower their offers next summer? Would the Celtics still be willing to discuss Tatum if New Orleans is pushed deeper in that corner? The game theory is fascinating.
The Pelicans should push for a clear understanding of Boston’s willingness to deal Tatum. But any pledge would be non-binding, so uncertainty is inevitable no matter what the Celtics say.