On the individual level, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, two steals and a block in a stat stuffing outing this regular season. Anthony Davis fared slightly better pitching in 27 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and three assists in a 115-123 New Orleans Pelicans loss to Milwaukee Bucks.
Getting an up close look at Davis, Antetokounmpo didn’t hesitate to echo the wish of many Managers and Team Owners in the league to have Davis on their roster. The comment comes off as a hilarious way of wading into the Anthony Davis that has enveloped the NBA.
But Giannis has been one for straight talk highlighted in his blunt misgivings about Milwaukee Bucks firing of Jason Kidd. Mike Budenholzer-the man appointed to replace Kidd has raved about Antetokounmpo’s competitiveness and while that is an admirable trait, it is cause for concern.
Barring a miraculous ride, Milwaukee isn’t winning an NBA title anytime soon despite having a talented young group that oscillates between the top three spots behind Eastern Conference leaders Toronto Raptors. Antetokounmpo is a free agent after the 2021 season and could sign a new deal with another team as unrestricted free agent.
That would spell doom for Bucks plans for the future but that might happen if the team continues to struggle in the playoffs like it has over the past three seasons.
Giannis knows getting Davis to Milwaukee makes them the best team to win the NBA title aside defending champions Golden State Warriors.
However, that possibility is extremely faint as Davis has attracted teams from bigger markets in the league including the second biggest Los Angeles. Los Angeles Lakers Forward LeBron James recently admitted his readiness to play with Davis who happens to be a top target for Lakers historical nemesis Boston Celtics. Pelicans by the way are faring poorly thus far this season and are 13th in the Western Conference with 15 wins and 17 losses. At this pace, the club will miss the playoffs in what will be Davis fifth miss in seven seasons with the team.
For a once in a generation talent like Anthony Davis, that is good enough from Dell Demps Pelicans management that has had the misfortune of losing players to varied injuries after tying those players to long tern deals. Aside Jrue Holiday, Pelicans lacks a standout shot creator on its roster. This offseason will be quite interesting since Pelicans are free to offer a contract extension to Davis for five years worth $239 million.
However, should Davis refuse to sign like Paul George and LaMarcus Aldridge did in recent past seasons, it raises alarms on Davis walking away from the club in 2020 free to sign with any club or hamstringing Pelicans chances of landing top players in a trade. Should Davis refuse to sign the extension, he turns into a player on an expiring contract and that wouldn’t be ideal for Pelicans post Davis. Trading him to the Lakers- very possible considering he and Lebron are signed to agent Rich Paul- now almost means a return of at least Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.
On the other hand, trading him in case he refuses to extend his contract to the Lakers will almost certainly be without Hart and Kuzma who have the most upside in the quartet. Celtics cant trade for Davis due to the presence of Kyrie Irving on Boston’s roster based on the Derrick Rose Rule. They can make a trade if they ship Irving off to another team and present the best trade packages than any team in the league. Pelicans could force Boston to trade its top Point Guard who has injury issues to get hold of the club’s juicy assets.
New Orleans can easily get Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier in a trade for Davis but should they stand pat and Davis decline to extend his stay this offseason, the return value from Boston also diminishes drastically. Pelicans should learn from OKC Thunder’s mistake for not trading James Harden immediately after winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
The team traded him and others including Cole Aldrich to Houston Rockets after he declined to extend his contract and forced OKC to accept a return of Kevin Martin (retired), Jeremy Lamb (with Charlotte Hornets) and future draft picks that turned into Alex Abrines, Steven Adams and Mitch McGary. Bar Adams who has been a hit, the return was woeful and OKC is still competitive because of Russell Westbrook. Such a return for New Orleans Pelicans would be a disaster and spell another long rebuild.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter