Pelicans’ Anthony Davis not traded, plans to play remainder of season
Anthony Davis made his own bed. He knew there was a chance the New Orleans Pelicans would decide against immediately honoring his trade request, especially once it became apparent league-wide that he plans on signing with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2020 regardless. But apparently Davis and Rich Paul, his agent, neglected to consider the possibility of the Pelicans shutting the six-time All-Star down for the season’s remainder if they didn’t move him before Thursday – a worst-case scenario that could come to fruition after the trade deadline came and went without Davis being dealt:
Anthony Davis’ agent Rich Paul tells me Davis is not being traded today
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) February 7, 2019
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Anthony Davis plans to play “every game” remaining on the Pelicans’ schedule despite the inherent risk associated with doing so:
If Anthony Davis is not traded today, he plans to play out the remainder of the season in the lineup for the Pelicans, a league source tells ESPN. "Every game," the source said. NOP's held him out of the lineup the last 2 games even though he's recovered from a finger fracture
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 7, 2019
Though Davis was healthy enough to play after missing the previous three weeks with an injury to his left index finger, the Pelicans nevertheless held him out of Monday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. He was inactive on Wednesday for New Orleans’ victory over his hometown Chicago Bulls, too.
One of the main reasons why New Orleans kept Davis through the deadline is because the Boston Celtics were unable to enter the bidding. League rules prevent a team from acquiring a second player playing on a designated rookie extension, the contract signed by both he and Kyrie Irving in the past several years. But Irving is able to opt out of his deal and become a free agent in July, which would allow the Celtics to chase their dreams of pairing the uber-talented point guard with Davis by potentially offering the Pelicans a package including Jayson Tatum and multiple future lottery picks – one far superior to any the team received in the last two weeks.
Will New Orleans really feel comfortable letting Davis play out the season, putting his trade value at risk on a game-by-game basis? That seems unlikely given the organization’s steadfast refusal to trade him before the deadline, but this is an unprecedented situation. The Pelicans are paying Davis to be on the court, and it would be another PR nightmare for the league office if one of the game’s best players was forced to sit out a third of the season while healthy.
There’s no telling how this situation plays out. For the long-term sake of both Anthony Davis and his current team, though, let’s hope he maintains a clean bill of health if New Orleans elects to end his exile.