What’s the only thing better than unexpected success? The potential of greater success.
The Boston Celtics just beat the Cleveland Cavaliers twice in the Eastern Conference finals. They’re two wins away from going to the NBA Finals — without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. When both players return next season, the Celtics should be legitimate title contenders.
But … what about Anthony Davis?
The Pelicans star has been tied to Boston in multiple trade rumors, despite his insistence that he wants to play out his contract in New Orleans. So, NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine decided Celtics vs. Cavs Game 2 was the perfect setting to ask ESPN’s Jeff Goodman if the C’s still can make a run at Davis in the near future.
Here’s Goodman’s response:
“To me, if you’re (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge, you have to see how this team jells now when you bring back Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to this group that’s already gotten this far.
“However, I think midseason next year, depending on what happens with New Orleans — and now the expectations have been raised in New Orleans because of what they did in the postseason. So, if they kind of fall flat a little bit next year, midseason, you could maybe make a run at Anthony Davis if he is frustrated by maybe taking a step back, which I think could happen.
“I don’t think there’s anybody else that you really mortgage any of these young players, or Kyrie or Gordon Hayward, for right now. I think you’re in a great spot if you’re Danny Ainge. You can wait and see what happens, because you still hold so many chips, and we haven’t even talked about those draft picks.”
To recap: Goodman thinks Davis to Boston still can happen, possibly at next season’s trade deadline if the Pelicans struggle out of the gate.
The C’s pursuing Davis would have seemed like a no-brainer earlier this season. Sure, they’d probably have to part with Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, but the 25-year-old Davis is one of the top five big men in the game. A big three of Irving, Hayward and Davis? How can you pass that up?
Boston’s current playoff run gives us second thoughts, though. Brown and Tatum have blossomed into stars on a roster that has developed great chemistry. That same core group is expected to return next season, and with Irving and Hayward in the fold, you could make the case the Celtics have a chance to win it all without adding Davis.
It’s a good dilemma for Ainge to have. The Celtics exec should at least explore the possibility of a Davis trade if it arises. But he’s dealing from a position of power, and if New Orleans’ asking price is even a bit too high for Ainge’s liking, he can back out knowing the sky-high potential of his current club.
Then again, maybe the C’s will just win the NBA title this year and prove everybody wrong.