Anthony Davis's trade request is the big news of the week for both the Knicks and NBA as a whole, for good reason. Davis is a once in a generation talent and clear-cut top five player in the league, and naturally someone of his caliber has reportedly piqued the interest of Scott Perry, Steve Mills and co.
But with what it will cost to acquire him and outside factors such as this summer's free agency, the list of potential rewards and drawbacks are as loaded as one of Brow's stat lines.
The obvious stuff first: Davis is a titan. He's averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 blocks a night, his mere presence shifting defenses and leaving opposing scorers scurrying away like subway rats. Davis is a stalwart on defense, against any position. He chews up fake mismatches (when a perimeter think he's got an upper hand off a switch) for breakfast. The length, build and athleticism combination lets him cover ground and get to balls no human should be able to.
His mid-range jumper is a legitimate threat, and his three-pointer isn't too far behind. He's got post drop steps, hook shots and fading jump shots in his post arsenal, and can dribble out of the face-up, the three-point arc, or a defensive rebound on the other end. Watch him live without checking the box score, and you'll often think he's having a decent game before realizing he's put up 43-18, and made it look easy.
Knicks fans thought they had the guy in 2010 with Amar'e Stoudemire, then 2011 with Carmelo Anthony. Remember 2013 Melo? Davis is a full tier above that, as close to as sure thing as the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing in terms of stardom. If Davis landed in New York and ended up playing through his prime in the blue and orange, he'd likely end up the greatest Knick ever. By the way, the Knicks would get his prime as he's only 25 years old.
Getting Davis doesn't just mean getting Davis. His starpower will catch the attention of other elite players, perhaps some from the headlining class of this summer's free agency.
Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving, among others, could be looking to don some new duds. Pairing up with Davis would mean immediately becoming tile contenders, in the mecca of basketball no less. This seems to be the end game for the Knicks in a world where they successfully nab the Brow, but they'd need to make some more moves to clear up the cap space required.
Even if that plan falls through, the Knicks would likely get rid of one unfriendly contract in the Davis deal just to match salaries, for example, Tim Hardaway Jr.'s, and if Kristaps Porzingis doesn't return to his old form they'll be happy they dealt him.
There is, as always, a flip side to this escapade.
For one, the cost is likely to be massive. Teams are going to throw everything they've got at the Pelicans, multiple first-round picks going deep into the next decade, young talent that's been accumulated for years, personal items, laundry for a year, etc.
What will it cost the Knicks to outbid the pack? At this point, at least two of Kevin Knox, this year's first-round pick and Porzingis. It could even take all three, and certainly involve a Frank Ntilikina or Mitchell Robinson as well as Hardaway or another highly-paid veteran on top either way.
The math changes if no trade occurs by the Draft Lottery, at which point the Knicks could be in line for Zion Williamson if they're any good at ping pong. Any other result likely doesn't have any impact, but the 290-pound skyscraping Duke product could make it easier for the Pelicans to say yes, but more difficult for the Knicks to take the leap. He and Porzingis both have a solid chance at becoming the guy Davis is now, and the other guys listed like Knox and Robinson have shown great potential in their own right.
In order to weigh the risk-reward, it's important to acknowledge that although Davis is a sure thing, winning with him is not. Davis has won a total of one Playoff series in his time as a Pelican. (By the way, not that it's a major question mark, but up until 2017 he never played 70 games in a season.) His rosters could have been better and the West is a tough battleground, but Jrue Holiday is an All-Star caliber point guard he's shared the court with and it's no certainty the Knicks will be able to back him up with talent.
Even if the Knicks can clear cap space for 2019, it's no guarantee Durant, Leonard or any other star signs on. What happens then? Other free agents might build a consistent postseason team, but you don't trade for Davis without loftier expectations. Is the move trading more assets to try and cobble together a contender? Assuming a trade for Davis includes an agreement to sign an extension, there's still no stopping him from looking at yet another losing situation and wanting out once more.
The real no-deal case lies with the no-deal scenario. Pass on Davis, and the Knicks are in line to get a top lottery talent this summer to add onto an already-impressive young core. Porzingis is a stud, Knox is a pure scorer, Damyean Dotson has 3-and-D potential, Robinson is awesome, Allonzo Trier is too, Noah Vonleh is Draymond Green-lite, Ntilikina… is getting there?
The Knicks have been down this path many a time, getting distracted by a shiny thing like a cat chasing a laser pointer only to find disappointment. There is zero risk and all the rewards to gain from patiently staying the course, continuing to develop their pieces and culture as opposed to shipping off the assets they've suffered for years to collect in hopes of turning the corner in one fell swoop.
Then again, it is Anthony Davis.