The rumors about Anthony Davis eventually leaving New Orleans spark from a few pieces of kindling that get the fire going. One is that Davis has made it very clear he wants to win and be considered the best player in the game, and up to now the Pelicans haven’t won like that. There is the fact that he switched agents to LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul, and that’s not the kind of move you necessarily make if the plan is just to stay in place and sign whatever contract they put in front of you (a $240 designated veteran contract, it is certainly possible he grabs that bag).
Finally, there are 29 other teams plotting ways to get him. Those teams speculate and leak. That despite the fact the Pelicans have made zero indications they plan to trade him, and Davis has this season and the next one under contract. Davis is on that rarified Kevin Durant/LeBron James/Stephen Curry level of franchise-changing player, the kind every team would do whatever it takes to get. That leads to speculation.
Just don’t think those rumors are coming from Davis. They’re not, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s Undefeated.
“I got two years to ’20-’21. I’m here and whatever happens after that happens,” Davis told ESPN’s The Undefeated. “For me, right now it is about being the most dominant player in the league and helping this team win.
“You hear all the rumors. You hear all the talk. But it’s not coming from me. I’m here to be a Pelican, help this team move forward and help this team win a championship.”
There is nothing new here. Davis has made it clear from the start he would prefer to stay a Pelican, but he is using the leverage he has to pressure the organization to improve the roster. It’s the smart play.
Nothing has changed for the Pelicans, either. They are going to play out this season with Davis, then slap down that $240 million contract extension in front of him. Then things get interesting. What Davis and his agent tell the Pelicans once the money is on the table will influence whether New Orleans starts thinking trade. However, the Pelicans may also go the route Oklahoma City did with Kevin Durant and keep him in an effort to win him over for another year. Players like that don’t fall in New Orleans’ lap often, they need to exhaust every avenue of keeping him before looking at any other options.
But for now, everything is speculation.