The New Orleans Pelicans are not trading Anthony Davis.
Why? Because they are not stupid. Nobody sane would trade a first team All-NBA player who averaged 28 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, who is a defensive force, a true franchise cornerstone player, who is just 24-years old and has four years left on his contract.
Yet this summer, the wet dreams of Boston fans (and management) led to rumors that the Celtics were trying to get Davis. The rumors bubbled up to the point that one of the children at Davis’ youth basketball camp in New Orleans asked him if he was going to Boston, Davis told the New Orleans Times Picayune. He said he heard the rumors and found there to be nothing to them.
Davis said that he spoke with his agent, Thaddeus Foucher, and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps about the rumors earlier in the offseason and he was assured that there was nothing to worry about.
“I understand it’s a business, but if I don’t hear anything from Dell or my agent, I don’t pay attention to it,” said Davis, who averaged 28 points and 11.8 rebounds in 2016-17.
“Once I first heard (the rumors), then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn’t (true), and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven’t paid attention to it since.”
Davis said his focus is on playing well with DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday and getting the Pelicans to the playoffs. Davis’ Pelicans have only made the playoffs once in his five seasons, while Cousins has never made the postseason.
If the Pelicans miss the playoffs in a deep West — a very real possibility — and maybe even if it does, there will be a major basketball operations house cleaning in New Orleans. If the Cousins/Davis gambit doesn’t play off, expect GM Dell Demps, coach Alvin Gentry and plenty of others on the basketball side of things to be gone. This has created a real pressure on the team this season.
If that happens, does anyone think the new GM is going to trade Davis? No. At that point, Davis will be a 25-year-old franchise player with three years left on his contract and that new GM will try to rebuild around him. And even when that next contract ends, the Pelicans will be able to offer Davis the designated veteran super-max contract to seek to retain him. A small-market franchise like the Pelicans can’t give up on Davis, guys like that are too hard to replace.
Is it possible that in a couple years more years of losing Davis goes to the Pelicans and asks to be traded? Yes. It’s also possible that in a couple of years the Pelicans will realize he will leave at the end of this contract — turning down the super max deal — so they need to move him to get something in return. However, even those fever dreams are a couple of years away, at best. For the immediate future, Davis is a Pelican, and that’s not changing.