NBA All-Star 2019

Anthony Davis plans to play in All-Star Game, finish season with New Orleans Pelicans

Davis says he wants to 'go to a team that wins', but expects to play out season in New Orleans

CHARLOTTE — The biggest surprise of the All-Star Game happened 24 hours before tipoff: Anthony Davis not only showed up prepared to play, he came prepared to answer questions.

No other play in Charlotte is more under siege than Davis, whose career remains in limbo following a messy attempt to force his way out of New Orleans, only to have the Pelicans reject all proposed deals at the trade deadline.

And then last Thursday, Davis injured his shoulder, which left his status for the All-Star Game in question. But he said Saturday “it’s my intent to play” through any lingering shoulder issues and also said the same about playing the rest of the season for the Pelicans.

At least that’s his intent. The Pelicans, after a management shakeup Friday caused by the Davis situation, might have a different stance when the season resumes Thursday.

“It’s a business, I understand it,” Davis said. “When we were talking (previously) about playing or not playing, I understood it from their perspective. We wanted to gets something done and it didn’t happen. So my job is to play and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Davis seemed unmoved by the decision to fire Dell Demps, the GM who couldn’t build a consistent winner in Davis’ six-plus seasons in New Orleans.

“I didn’t know anything about it but the Pelicans are going to do what’s best for them,” Davis said. “My intentions are still the same no matter who the GM is. The Pelicans made a move for what’s best of their organization and I’m going to go out and play basketball with my teammates.”

It’s a weird if not uncomfortable situation all around for Davis and the team. By expressing a desire to leave — which he reiterated Saturday — Davis essentially is saying the franchise isn’t good enough for him anymore. Yet he’s still playing for that franchise and with the same teammates. It caused some frayed feelings within the organization when Davis, after injuring his shoulder during the game with Oklahoma City, left the court and then the building before the game ended without informing team officials. Demps was fired the next day.

Davis said he’s still sticking with his list of preferred destinations should the Pelicans trade him this summer — he still has another year on his contract — and corrected reports that didn’t have the Celtics on that list. They are, he said.

“I just want to go to a team that wins,” said Davis, while adding that he won’t sign an extension with any team until he reaches free agency in 2020.

“I had a plan,” he said. “I had steps to follow that plan and did what I was supposed to do. Obviously I knew there was a chance where it probably wasn’t going to happen. So I’m still here. You want to take control of your career. That’s what I tried to do.”

Fellow All-Star Paul George was in a similar situation with the Pacers three years ago, with the difference being George was traded to Oklahoma City.

“It’s tough in AD’s situation because now he has to finish a season in New Orleans and being booed and really having a city and fan base turn on him,” said George. “I feel for AD. It’s going to make him tougher, give him a thicker skin. Him having that mental toughness is going to help him.”

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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