Can the Golden State Warriors Really Make a Run at Anthony Davis?

New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis, right, is hugged by Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant at the end of Game 5 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. Golden State won 113-104 to win the series. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors won’t land All-Star Anthony Davis, right?

It almost sounds ridiculous, but then so seemed the prospect of Kevin Durant joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Two titles since, and the Warriors continue to dream big, at least according to Tim Kawakami of the Athletic.

“The Warriors will be looking this summer,” Kawakami wrote. “But the timing might not be quite right in the short-term, which isn’t a deal-breaker in any way for the Warriors.”

Acquiring Davis would be no easy task.

The 25-year-old forward is under contract for the next three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans for $81.3 million. He can opt out of his contract one year early to hit free agency in the summer of 2020.

That’s the clock for New Orleans. This year, the team advanced to the postseason for the first time since the 2014-15 season and won its first playoff series since 2008 by sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers before losing to Golden State in five games.

If the Pelicans are unable to improve through the 2018-19 season, they will need to face the difficult truth that Davis may not stick around long-term. The closer he gets to free agency, the more the trade market shrinks. Instead, teams will hoard cap room in preparation for 2020.

Simply put, the Pelicans cannot afford to lose Davis without a significant return. Equally, they need to do everything they can to give him a reason to stay.

For now, the Warriors only have one contract on their books for the 2020-21 season: Curry at $43 million. The NBA hasn’t released a salary-cap projection for that season yet, but it could near $113 million. Davis would be eligible for a maximum of 30 percent, or $34 million in his first year.

If he continues to be named to the All-NBA First Team, the Pelicans exclusively will be able to pay him 35 percent or almost $40 million. That alone may quash the Warriors’ hopes.

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Still, as of today, Golden State will have enough spending power for Davis in 2020. But what will it cost to retain Durant this July, presuming he declines his $26.3 million player option?

What of Thompson, who will hit free agency in the summer of 2019 or Green, whose deal ends in 2020?

Last year, Durant took $25 million to re-sign, well below the $34.7 million he could have sought with Golden State or another franchise. He’ll be eligible for a new deal this summer for up to $35.4 million.

Does he continue to be so generous?

Thompson is eligible for a contract extension starting at $22.8 million with the 2019-20 season, but that’s well below the projected $32.4 million he would be eligible to receive if waits for free agency.

Unsigned in 2020, Green will take up $27.8 million of the Warriors’ space unless they renounce his rights. Don’t expect the forward to sign an early extension at a discount.

Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, Green will turn down an extension offer: “That’s because if he earns MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or All-NBA Team honors next season, he will be eligible for a super-max contract of five years, $226 million,” Haynes wrote.

If Green does sign as a designated veteran, he wouldn’t be trade eligible for a full year.

Should Golden State fully invest in its existing stars, it won’t have the spending power for Davis. If the Warriors are going to pick and choose which of their core players to keep in 2020, they may be willing to offer the expendable ones in a trade to the Pelicans well before that crucial summer.

“Davis would have to want out, and then the Warriors would have to meet New Orleans’ trade price,” Kawakami explained. “That would almost certainly have to include either Klay Thompson or Draymond Green or potentially both.”

Thompson can be traded through February of 2019 under his current deal, or after under a new contract with Golden State. Green can be dealt before the trade deadline of 2020.

A lot would need to seriously go awry for the Pelicans to decide to move Davis before next season’s February deadline.

They have a key decision to make this offseason on DeMarcus Cousins, who is looking for a significant salary despite coming off a torn Achilles. Whatever moves it makes, New Orleans has to factor in the impact on Davis.

There is no obvious way the Warriors can simply add Davis to their existing core without making sacrifices. That said, a triumvirate of Curry, Durant and Davis is not out of the question.

Regardless, the Warriors are looking at significant luxury taxes in the coming years as they work to maintain their dynasty.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Should they reach $150 million in salary this next season, they’ll pay just under $100 million in penalties. If they hold tight at $140 million, taxes drop down to roughly $53 million.

In the meantime, other teams will look to chase Davis—and even Durant and Thompson—as they hit their respective free agencies.

Four straight trips to the NBA Finals with three titles have made the Warriors’ greedy for more (as they should be).

Davis is one of the best individual talents in the league, and like it did with Durant, Golden State needs to be ready for him if it has the opportunity to bolster its championship squad with another elite star.

Of course, the Pelicans have a significant say in Davis’ future. If they sense he’s a flight risk, they’ll canvas the league for the best return—and there’s no guarantee a package of Green and Thompson will be the best offer, especially if New Orleans opts to rebuild through the draft.

Just as 2018 is the summer of LeBron James, 2020 will be the summer of Anthony Davis if the Pelicans can’t lock him down long-term before that.

Until that’s decided, the Warriors will keep a close eye on Davis and his evolving status in in New Orleans.


Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA

June 12, 2018 at 12:56PM


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