New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis delivered a shock to the NBA world on Monday with news of his desire to be traded. A day later, the Pelicans may start hearing all kinds of offers for the All-NBA big man, but it seems they’re not going to rush to make a move.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, the Pelicans will not look to trade Davis before the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline unless they receive an overwhelming package.
Wojnarowski reports the Los Angeles Lakers’ braintrust of president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka plan to make an aggressive push for Davis before the trade deadline. The Lakers are expected to talk to the Pelicans soon about a possible trade, league sources told Wojnarowski. To acquire Davis, the Lakers would likely have to part with a combination of future Draft picks and young assets such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.
On Monday, the Pelicans issued a statement that acknowledged Davis’ trade request, but also made it clear they will deal him when it suits the team best.
“This past weekend, Anthony Davis’ representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade,” the Pelicans’ statement said. “Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organization’s top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans and build our team for long-term success.
Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”
Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, told several media outlets yesterday of Davis’ desire to be moved. Paul and Davis are expected to tell teams that Davis’ preferred destination is the Lakers and he’ll be a rental player if he’s dealt anywhere else. Davis can become a free agent in 2020.
The Lakers are not the only team thought to be a threat to acquire Davis, as the Boston Celtics have the combination of assets and future Draft picks that could make them a player for Davis. The Celtics cannot trade for Davis under NBA rules until July 1, unless they also trade away Kyrie Irving — which likely won’t happen. Irving is a factor because of what’s known as the “Rose Rule,” the one that says NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension.
Other teams, per ESPN, are weighing the possibility of making offers for Davis — even those teams that would essentially be renting him as described above. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the New York Knicks have also started to prepare trade offers for Davis.
In addition to the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors are also expected to make trade offers, too, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. In addition, the Denver Nuggets are considered by NBA front-office types to be an “off-the-radar” team that has the assets to pursue Davis, writes O’Connor.
Davis could sign a 5-year, $240 million super max extension this summer and can become a free agent in the summer of 2020.
“Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” Paul said Monday. “Anthony wanted to be honest and clear with his intentions and that’s the reason for informing them of this decision now. That’s in the best interests of both Anthony’s and the organization’s future.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry spoke with Davis on Monday morning and said Davis told him he’d play the rest of the season once he recovers from his finger injury. He was diagnosed with a sprained left finger late last week that was expected to sideline him up to two weeks.
“He plans on playing out the season,” Gentry said Monday afternoon. “That’s my role as to try and win as many games as we possibly can. I think AD is a professional guy. He’s going to play as hard as he can once he gets well and we’re going to the best we can to try and put our team in a position to win games.
“I spoke to the team this morning and I think everybody understands it’s part of the business,” Gentry said. “I thought we had a good practice. It was a spirited one. That’s all we can do. We have to come out and prepare the team. He’s still under contract. When he gets healthy, he’ll play.”
When asked if Davis could be dealt prior to the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline, Gentry said that was something “you’d have to take up with (Pelicans general manager) Dell (Demps) and (Saints general manager/Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations) Mickey (Loomis).”
Davis is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per game this season. He’ll almost certainly become a six-time All-Star later this week when the NBA announces the full rosters for this year’s game that will be played Feb. 17 in Charlotte.
Davis’ finger injury occurred in a 128-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 18. Various other injuries — including an ankle injury earlier in the season and a hip injury in November — have limited Davis to 41 games this season.
Despite those bumps in the road, though, Davis has been spectacular when healthy. He has scored 30 or more points 12 times this season and 40 or more points seven times. However, the Pelicans are just 11-8 in those 19 games.
New Orleans is 22-28 and has lost three straight and seven of its last eight games, putting it at No. 13 in the Western Conference playoff chase. Last season, Davis was instrumental in the Pelicans’ playoff run, powering them into the postseason as the No. 6 seed. Once there, they swept the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before losing in five games in the West semifinals to the Golden State Warriors.
He’s an elite superstar on a team that hasn’t gotten past the West semifinals since he’s been in New Orleans — and in four of his first six full seasons, the Pelicans didn’t qualify for the playoffs at all.
A five-time All-Star, Davis was an All-NBA first team member in three of the last four seasons. He has made three All-Defensive teams in his career and is the Pelicans’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, field goals attempted and made and free throws attempted and made.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.