The lottery Gods were mischievous last night in Chicago. Of the bottom four teams, one ended up in the top four, with the Knicks grabbing the third pick. The Cavs followed at five, Phoenix at six, and Chicago at seven. Funnily enough, they ended up in the correct order based on record, but the Grizzlies and Lakers snuck in at two and four, with New Orleans winning the Grand Zion Lottery altogether.
The Pelicans winning, altered a lot of conversations around the trade rumor market based on Anthony Davis’ desire to leave New Orleans. Many of the pundits believed whoever ended up with the number one pick would have the greatest chance to trade for Davis. Given the fact New Orleans owns the number one pick already, it changes potential packages, and their desires for the upcoming season.
The biggest goal for NOLA hopefuls, GM David Griffin, and head coach Alvin Gentry is to keep AD right where he is, at all costs. Based on early reports, AD still wants out, and even if he didn’t, the relationship is fractured due to everything that went down during this past season.
So if they continue down the trade route, the Knicks, Lakers, and Boston are still the best suitors for AD, now that Zion is off the board. Given the Zion variable, the sense of urgency around the situation has relaxed and Griffin has a lot more leverage to just sit back and take it all in. I imagine, if he wants, he could completely fleece the Lakers of Ingram, Ball, Kuzma, and Hart (maybe three of the four is more realistic) or hold out for a package from Boston that includes both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. From the Knicks, it’d probably be a package of DSJ, Knox, and Mitchell Robinson, although that doesn’t feel like enough to me1. A package around Brown and Tatum feels like the best case scenario for NOLA, but without some sort of promise from AD, I’m not sure Boston would be willing to give up both.
For just a moment though, let’s allow ourselves to believe AD would be open to the possibility of staying in New Orleans. What exactly might he want to see from Griffin and Co. to show they are serious about finally building a real team around him to contend2? Their biggest weakness throughout all of the AD years has been on the wing. AD has controlled the paint, Jrue has taken care of the backcourt, but no one has been able to give them consistent scoring from the wing, that crucial 3 and D type player3.
After a quick search of 2019 free agents, I put together a quick list of free agent wings. Obviously, not all are within reach, and even Kris Middleton, who would be a perfect fit in this role, will probably have a truckload of cash offered from Milwaukee, and who would want to leave Giannis’ side at this point?
Ultimately, if they want to even have a small shot at keeping Anthony Davis, they will most likely need to secure one of these Tier 2 free agent wings, or trade for someone who could meet or exceed that group. And without putting much thought into it, the only guy I could see them realistically trading for would be Danilo Gallinari.
Only time will tell, but my fingers are crossed we will get to see Zion and AD hearing the court together in New Orleans. #KeepADinNOLA
Rodney Hood - barely made this tier at all