The NBA Conference Finals are in full swing and the 2019 Playoffs have been as exciting as ever. Warriors/Rockets was yet again a high-scoring classic series, Damien Lillard has been astounding, and none of us will ever forget “the shot” that sent the Toronto Raptors past the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7. The country has been swept up in NBA fever, with record high bets being placed on the playoffs so far. If you’re interested in placing a wager on an NBA playoff game, then check out some of the best sports betting sites and find the best online sports book to make your bet.
Still, with all the action on the court, there’s even more drama happening off it. The 2019 off-season will prove to be one of the most dramatic in history with many big-name free-agents up for grabs and the Anthony Davis trade saga in full bloom. Here’s a rundown on the latest rumors as the NBA races to a thrilling finish with free-agency around the corner!
Stephen A. Smith Doubles Down on Durant and Irving to the Knicks
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is so sure that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will join the Knicks this summer, he’s willing to put a percentage on it.
That percentage is 95. Talk about a sure thing.
Smith tweeted on Saturday that Durant and Irving plan to leave their respective teams this summer to come to New York, and he doubled down on that statement on Monday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take while also dispelling rumors that Irving might join LeBron James in Los Angeles with the Lakers.
From what I've heard, there is "no way in hell" Kyrie Irving is going to the Lakers. pic.twitter.com/YsfLtaDZcI
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 14, 2019
The only possible wrench in those plans, according to Smith, is if Durant were to change his mind. Both Irving and Durant have player options for next season, but the consensus feeling around the NBA is that both will opt to become free agents.
Knicks fans are already on edge about the possibility of landing the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery. To think that they might be able to get two superstars as well will only get their hopes up even more. Regardless of what happens, the Knicks have a lot of pressure coming their way.
But Could an Anthony Davis Signing Convince Kyrie to Stay?
Faced with the possibility of losing Kyrie Irving to free agency this summer, the Celtics may need to do something drastic to keep their star point guard.
One option that’s been on the table for some time now is trading for Anthony Davis. Of all the offers New Orleans might get for the star big man this summer, Boston has the most enticing package of young players and draft picks.
Getting Davis from the Pelicans would be a huge lift to a Celtics team that hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the postseason for the past couple of years, not to mention the effect it could have on Irving’s decision to stay or go this summer.
According to the Athletic’s Frank Isola, Celtics GM Danny Ainge believes Irving will re-sign with the team if Boston acquires Davis in a trade.
Davis reportedly still wants out of New Orleans even though the team was able to come away with the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday’s draft lottery. He still has two more years left on his contract with the Pelicans (2020 player option), but the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency could persuade the team to find a trade partner this summer.
We’ll see if the Celtics can make a deal happen and if that has any effect on Irving’s plans for free agency.
The Pelicans Hold All the Cards, and Don’t Want to Deal with the Lakers
If New Orleans Pelicans superstar big man Anthony Davis had dreams of playing in Los Angeles next season, then he might have to wait until the following season to see his dreams come to fruition.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on “The Jump” that the Pelicans are not interested in dealing the 26-year-old to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Earlier this season, Davis made it abundantly clear that he did not have plans on re-signing with the club when he can opt out of his contract after the 2019-20 season.
From there, the trade rumors started funneling in with the Lakers as the frontrunners to land him. But the two sides could not come to terms on a deal by the NBA trade deadline.
In addition to the Lakers, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks are also interested in acquiring the six-time All-star center.
In fact, Frank Isola of The Athletic reported earlier this week that Celtics GM Danny Ainge believes Kyrie Irving will re-sign with the squad if they can somehow acquire Davis.
However, the only issue with that plan is the Celtics might have to give up Jayson Tatum in a potential deal for Davis.
Finally, when it comes to the Knicks, Davis would be interested in re-signing with them if he believes he could be successful in the Big Apple, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
Begley went on to explain that if the Knicks were to make a trade for Davis, they would have to fill both max free agent spots in July. And then send out $21.6 million to the Pelicans since Davis is scheduled to make $27 million in 2019-20.
However, to get that $21.6 million, the NBA insider noted that New York would have to give up Dennis Smith Jr, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, possibly Mitchell Robinson and their top pick in next month’s draft.
That being said, it should be interesting to see where new Pelicans GM David Griffin ultimately trades Davis this offseason or if he can convince him to stay somehow.