New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis is an absolute freak, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge knows it. But Ainge's apparent multi-year pursuit of The Brow will almost certainly have to wait until the summer at the earliest due to the 'Rose Rule,' which the Celtics are already benefitting from with having Kyrie Irving on their roster.
Introduced in 2011, the Rose Rule allows players finishing their rookie deals to sign for 30 percent of their team’s salary cap if they're an MVP, two-time All-NBA Team selection or voted-on All-Star starter. The Cavaliers, of course, were able to sign Irving (five years, $94 million) to his deal using the Rose Rule in 2014, while the Pelicans did the same with Davis (five years, $145 million) in 2015. And the NBA's CBA also states that teams cannot trade for multiple players signed to the Rose Rule.
In other words, the Celtics, as currently constructed, cannot swing an in-season deal for Davis.
Now, the obvious workaround here is to deal Irving in order to acquire Davis.
But that plan would make little sense for anybody involved. If the Celtics acquired Davis, it would be to pair him with Irving and create the Eastern Conference's most devastating one-two combination for the long-term future. And Irving (a free agent next summer by way of an opt-out) has already verbally committed to a long-term future in Boston, so trading him really shouldn't be in the Celtics' plans, especially when you consider how he's looked this season with a healthier knee.
This means that Boston's most likely path towards a Davis trade comes on July 1, 2019, when Irving opts out of his deal and signs a new contract with the Celtics, freeing up a spot on the Green's payroll for another Rose Rule contract.
But the C's will have competition for Davis should the Pelicans decide to move on from the all-world talent.
As reported by Chris Sheridan last week, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to be in hot pursuit of Davis in an effort to pair him with LeBron James and a Lakeshow duo not seen since the days of Kobe and Shaq. It's also worth mentioning that Davis recently signed with the same agency that represents James. The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers are also expected to make plays for Davis, as well, but neither team appears to have the assets that both the C's and Lakers possess in any attempts to woo the Pelicans into a deal for the most important player in their franchise's history.
Davis, day-to-day with a hip injury, is considered probable for Monday's game against the Celtics.