But if New Orleans (15-17, tied for 12th in the West, though just 3.5 games out of fourth place) keeps falling in the standings… if it feels inevitable Davis will reject a super-max extension this offseason… if another team, intent on getting Davis for the 2019 playoffs, makes a monster offer… and the Pelicans actually trade Davis, nobody will have to answer for it. Everyone who said New Orleans wouldn’t trade Davis has been protected by anonymity.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry – who previously said they wouldn’t trade Davis for anyone, even Beyonce – is expanding his stance to include larger packages.
Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:
I doubt Gentry would say this so vehemently without assurances it’s true. His reputation is now on the line. But it also wouldn’t be the first time Gentry wasn’t on the same page with management.
Still, it’s hard to see the Pelicans falling far enough behind before the trade deadline that they’d actually deal Davis – especially with New Orleans trying to upgrade its roster. Davis is a generational player. Acquiring a star like him is so difficult. The Pelicans should be extremely apprehensive about trading him. Even the possibility of keeping him long-term is more valuable than many trade offers.
That said, teams as bad as New Orleans rarely keep players as good as Davis. Asset-rich teams like the Lakers and Celtics are pining for him – which might actually be another reason the Pelicans don’t trade Davis this season.
Because they already have a Designated Rookie Scale Player acquired via trade in Kyrie Irving, the Celtics can’t trade for Davis without surrendering Irving until next summer (when Irving’s Designated Rookie Scale Player status will expire as he opts out of his current contract). So, New Orleans can’t create a bidding war involving Boston until then.
So, it’s extremely likely the Pelicans keep Davis this season, offer him a super-max extension next offseason and hope for the best. Gentry saying so only adds more certainty.