Tomase: Anthony Davis is going to play for Celtics next year and we should stop overthinking it

John Tomase
February 05, 2019 - 10:30 am
Anthony Davis

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

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Among the many facets of American life ruined by social media is the ability to see the big picture.

We spend our days pelted by tiny hailstones of news, opinion, and outrage that never seem to equal an actual storm. Rarely is information presented cohesively and thoroughly, because the 24-hour news cycle demands constant fuel, like a climate-denying coal furnace.

In the real world, this means the drip-drip-drip of scandal slowly submerging the Trump administration isn't recognized as an actual deluge. But over in the corner of our pretend sports world, it obscures a simple truth: Anthony Davis is almost definitely joining the Celtics next year.

It's easy to lose sight of this while dodging Woj grenades (he saves the bombs for big news) every 20 minutes. Just consider the headlines on WEEI.com alone in the last few days:

We missed a few intervening stories, like Davis wanting to force a trade to the Lakers, and then that he'd accept a deal to the Knicks, too, and then that there are a handful of other teams he'd be willing to join long-term. Now we hear the Lakers are pessimistic he'll be traded by Thursday's deadline, and that Danny Ainge has encouraged the Pelicans to wait until the offseason.

It's enough to make your head spin like Kyrie splitting a double team, but let's hunker down in the storm shelter, ignore the pellets pinging the roof, and consider the big picture:

1. The Pelicans have no incentive to rush a deadline deal when they're effectively only negotiating with one team. Davis may consider L.A. his preferred destination, but the Pelicans are under zero obligation to oblige him. Doing so now would represent a dereliction of duty.

2. If the Pelicans decide they absolutely must have Duke forward/freak-of-nature Zion Williamson, they can't make a trade until the draft order is determined in June. Even though the Knicks own the worst record in the league and would love to pair Davis with Irving, the chance of them picking first is only 14 percent, thanks to lottery changes to disincentivize tanking.

3. Williamson aside, the Celtics still have the most to offer. Their young talent includes a potential all-NBA selection in forward Jayson Tatum, as well as athletic guard Jaylen Brown, and smaller pieces like shot blocker Robert Williams. Their draft pick haul can center around a potentially unprotected 2021 pick from the Grizzlies, who are almost certainly going to blow up their veteran core of Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, possibly stranding them in the lottery for years.

4. Forget the noise about Davis's long-term desires, which can be seen as deadline posturing by his representatives, who are motivated to force a partnership with LeBron James, their most famous client. With rumblings that Irving might renege on his promise to sign a mammoth extension this summer, Ainge has every reason to be all-in on Davis, which would be the best possible pitch he could make to his all-world point guard.

5. A lot can change in a year. Just ask Paul George, who was traded to the Thunder before free agency, and then instead of flying home to L.A., shocked the NBA by signing a long-term deal in OKC. Acquiring Davis without a guarantee of an extension would be a gamble, but since when has Ainge been afraid to gamble? He sold Kevin Garnett, and he surely believes he can sell Davis, too.

Add it all together, and about the only way Davis doesn't join the Celtics this summer is if the Knicks win the lottery (there's an 86 percent chance they don't) and deal the No. 1 pick. And there's no guarantee *that* happens when the prospect in question is considered by none other than Scottie Pippen as the best to enter the NBA since Michael Jordan. Any of the other probable lottery winners -- Phoenix, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta -- would be more likely to build around the cost-controlled Williamson than the maxed-out Davis, especially when the latter can simply bolt in free agency next summer.

So whatever you read in the next couple of days, Celtics fans, don't fret, because here's the thing about hail: it melts. Eventually, it'll be like it was never there at all.

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