OAKLAND — As rumors drift through the NBA of the asking price it would take for a team to acquire Anthony Davis in a trade with the Pelicans, it’s hard to imagine the Knicks having the pieces to be in play. But some of the most prominent power brokers around Davis think New York would be the right place for him.
The starting point, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is a package with one All-Star player, a potential All-Star and a pair of first-round picks. The Knicks don’t boast a current All-Star, and it’s hard to imagine the young players on the current roster as potential All-Stars. The best assets are the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft and five more first-round picks over the next four years.
ESPN reported that the Celtics and Lakers had begun negotiations with the Pelicans and added that the Nets and Clippers also had initiated talks.
But in an interview with Sports Illustrated, Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, talked up the possibility of getting him to the Lakers and then slipped in a vote for the Knicks.
“The only difference is, they don’t have as many championships as the Lakers,” Paul said. “They got a tradition. It’s a big market — not that it’s only big markets. They have cap space, flexibility, they’re able to absorb more than one star. What’s wrong with that?”
The talk of tradition may be true in the scope of history, but the Knicks are coming off an NBA-worst 17-65 season and any chance of becoming contenders with Davis would certainly be predicated on who they could add around him. They have $74 million in cap space, enough to lure two max contract free agents, but that pursuit took a turn with Kevin Durant’s injury, a ruptured Achilles which likely will sideline him for the entire 2019-20 season.
But the Knicks lack the players who fit the bill for the Pelicans request. ESPN reported that the Lakers were attempting to shop the No. 4 overall pick around the NBA to try to acquire the sort of All-Star talent New Orleans is seeking and then flip that player in the deal.
John Calipari, who coached Davis at Kentucky and remains in contact with him, appeared on MSG Network on Tuesday night and opined that the Knicks should do anything they can to get him.
“He’s a generational player,” Calipari said. “He’s like one every 10, 12, 15 years, so I would tell the Knicks or anybody else, you do what you have to do to get him on your team. And on top of being generational, he’s not changed. He came down, he ran a camp here in Lexington. You know who was here? Mom, dad, grandparents, sister, you know, his girlfriend, his baby.
“I mean, he is one of the nicest, neatest persons and he could deal with New York because he played at Kentucky and won a national title. It’s not just that he played here and he played in tough games and all that. He won the national title, which is why he was picked where he was. And so I look at him and I just say, this dude is generational, whoever gets him is going to be — they'll call me and I can’t believe he’s this good. Let me give you what I mean — he'll defer if someone on the team has it going, he’s fine. He’s comfortable in his own skin. Really, really smart, guard skills in his body — he's ridiculous.
“He’s won a gold medal, he’s won a national title, and he wants to win a world championship. Can you blame him? And if it were you, would you want to be somewhere where you thought you could win. And let me say this, it’s like L.A. and New York, you’re never that far because it’s always New York and it’s always L.A. You’re just not that far.”