Heisler: It’s Lakers vs. Celtics again – this time for Anthony Davis

first_img Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed In real life, it’s not hard to guess what everyone is thinking about … the more so after Davis dropped his agent this fall to hire Rich Paul, LeBron James’ close friend … so A.D. can expect a warm welcome in his next game here against the Lakers on Friday.Popular recruiting campaigns began with the virtual LeBronStock festivals that New York fans put on for three seasons before James became a free agent in 2010.Nike made its wishes clear, throwing in with the party atmosphere with the launch of a pin-striped sneaker for LeBron, the Yankees fan. Before his first visit in the 2009-10 season, the company sent in a battalion of employees wearing red “Witness” T-shirts to fan out through the arena.The Cavaliers took it as an insult, harumphing their way through it.“I think it’s tampering,” center Ben Wallace said.“You think the city of New York was tampering?” asked a New York reporter.Well, all the Cavs were upset, except one.“If you guys want to sleep now and don’t wake up until July 1, 2010, then go ahead,” James said merrily. “It’s going to be a big day.”When the big day came, the Knicks weren’t among the teams allowed to make pitches.Of course, LeBron is an icon, the first star of the social-media era, a new experience even for the Lakers who have always had stars.Davis is just a basketball player, if a great, young one, the most modern of centers with his mobility and shooting range at 26.The Lakers and Celtics would be the favorites in a trade scenario, but the situation is fluid.The Celtics started with brighter prospects to offer in trade. It’s now closer with the emergence of the young Lakers and the eclipse of last spring’s breakout stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, with the return of injured veterans.The Celtics were also expected to have a top-five pick, thanks to Sacramento. But with the Kings’ surprising 15-12 start, that pick is (for now) out of the lottery.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Davis’ wishes will drive this. If he seems to tilt toward the Lakers, they had Paul George lined up the same way a year ago.With one season left on his contract, George, the Palmdale native, told Indiana brass he intended to go home to the Lakers in a year, seeking to be traded to them.Instead, the Pacers accepted OKC’s offer of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, a bonanza as it turned out.Nevertheless, OKC’s seemingly desperate gamble paid off. With Russell Westbrook leading the way in a David-and-Goliath clash of their little market vs. the NBA’s most glamorous one, George passed up the chance to join James, re-signing with OKC without even talking to the Lakers.No one knows what will happen with so many star free agents, as opposed to last summer’s thin class after James and George.We’ll just list the top guys with updated, er, speculation:Kevin Durant, Warriors – Looks tired of being part of an ensemble cast, even one that wins titles, but great as he is, he’ll be 31 to A.D.’s 26. Insiders say Durant doesn’t have a superstar’s thick hide. Unlike the secure Steph Curry, KD’s Twitter outbursts show he cares what people think and goes back and forth on what he wants. He has already been from OKC, where he was beloved, to Oakland, where he has won two titles, then signed a short-term deal to become a free agent. New York, where KD would have his own team with a giant market at his feet, is considered a possibility. No, really.Kawhi Leonard, Raptors – Total mystery since he never says anything. A year ago, he was focused on returning home to Los Angeles. With the Lakers’ focus on AD, the Clippers are considered a real, or even the leading, possibility.Klay Thompson, Warriors – The quiet, sensible Warrior. He wants to stay but misses their old one-for-all, all-for-one camaraderie. As he recently told ESPN’s Nick Friedell, “Had it. Lost it.” He’ll be high on the Lakers’ list if they can trade for A.D.Related Articles Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs center_img The Celtics (heart) Anthony Davis, too.Not that it’s a newsflash that NBA teams think A.D. could be in play next summer, or that Celtics GM Danny Ainge, like the Lakers’ Magic Johnson, is thought to have him at the top of his list.Nevertheless, confirmation that it’s actually happening emerges a bit at a time, as in Davis’ visit to Boston last week when Celtics fans gave him a roaring welcome.Not that Celtics officials uttered a peep, which would be tampering. Even Magic knows that by now. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersNevertheless, Davis, who has handled his situation professionally, was obliged to address the reception: “I heard it tonight but I’m just focused on this team.“I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It’s been a rocky season, so it’s on me to try to figure it out.”Yada, yada.Davis gave a rare glimpse of his agenda before the season, noting he wants to be considered the NBA’s “most dominant player,” acknowledging that means being on a good team (“Winning definitely helps everything, helps with your legacy, helps be on the top of the list. … Going to the playoffs every three years doesn’t help my case.”)That makes the Pelicans, to whom he’s commendably loyal, a longshot, now No. 10 in the Western Conference after making the playoffs twice in seven years. Kyrie Irving, Celtics – He’d be higher on our list if he was available, but he says he’s staying.Kemba Walker, Hornets – Same deal as Kyrie. The killer tyke is happy there and vice versa.Jimmy Butler, 76ers – Looks content there, although with him, happiness can come and go quickly.Other free agents are expected to include: DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors; Marc Gasol, Grizzlies; Khris Middleton, Bucks; Nikola Vucevic, Magic; Tobias Harris, Clippers; Eric Bledsoe, Bucks; Al Horford, Celtics; Julius Randle, Pelicans.Stay tuned. It’s enough to keep everyone speculating until the big day comes. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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