The Celtics would like nothing more than to acquire Anthony Davis, but preventing the Lakers from trading for AD could be a close second for Boston GM Danny Ainge. The Athletic reported the latest storyline in the Lakers-Celtics rivalry is the two teams battling for Davis. Things are complicated for the Celtics thanks to the “Rose Rule” which prevents Boston from trading for Davis until this summer unless they were to include Kyrie Irving.
One name that could cause the Pelicans to press pause on a potential Lakers trade is Jayson Tatum. The Athletic reported that Tatum’s name has been mentioned in a potential Celtics-Pelicans deal that could take place this summer.
This latest Lakers-Celtics subplot would be dead by now if Ainge had been scared off, but sources say Boston — which can’t trade for Davis until this summer because of the well-chronicled “Rose Rule” — is continuing its complicated pursuit of the five-time All-Star in spite of the message being sent through various channels that he doesn’t want to play there. A source with knowledge of the talks said the potential centerpiece in a Pelicans package, 20-year-old Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum, has been discussed extensively by the two teams and is expected to be a major part of the talks when June rolls around.
What the Pelicans have to decipher is whether the Celtics would seriously consider trading Tatum, or if this is just Ainge’s way of blocking a potential Lakers deal. While Davis wants to be dealt by the trade deadline, the Pelicans are in no such hurry as they try to find the best deal for their team, not just the quickest one.
The Pelicans Must Decipher If the Celtics Are Willing to Trade Jayson Tatum
The Pelicans risk being burned twice if they pass on a good offer in hopes of acquiring Tatum, only to have the Celtics “change their mind.” ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported there is a serious debate over what the Celtics are actually willing to give up this summer.
But that is different than Boston promising clearly and explicitly to trade Tatum for Davis, and I am not sure they have been that explicit — nor have I seen any published reporting indicating they have.
Maybe they’ve implied it so strongly that there is almost no difference between what they have said and actually verbalizing the exact words, “Yes, you can have Tatum in July.” Maybe the distinction doesn’t matter. But there is a distinction.
Maybe the distinction is impossible to eliminate. This is unprecedented — teams almost pre-negotiating a trade five months before they can execute it. Think of everything that could happen between now and then. Tatum could get hurt. Davis could get hurt. Toronto could sweep Boston in the second round, and shove Irving further out the door into free agency.
Whether Davis gets dealt by the trade deadline comes down to what the Pelicans truly believe the Celtics will offer this summer compared to the Lakers best offer. All this leads to quite a compelling NBA trade deadline.