In Anthony Davis‘ lifetime, only two players made an All-NBA first team during their first six seasons, not reached a conference finals during that span and still began their seventh seasons with their original teams:
Davis and Kevin Garnett.
The combination of a young player being so good and his team being so unsuccessful is rare. It’s even rarer for the player to stick with that team. Garnett is the shining exception. He spent his first 12 seasons with the Timberwolves while advancing in the playoffs only once with them, in his ninth season.
But Garnett later said he regrets not leaving Minnesota sooner. To that, Davis said, “It makes you think” – one of the surest signs Davis was wavering in his loyalty to the Pelicans.
Now, Davis has Garnett himself in his ear.
Garnett, via Martin Rogers of USA Today:
“I told Anthony Davis this to his face,” Garnett told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone conversation this week. ” ‘You are not playing against the guys you are squaring up against every night. You are playing against history, man.’
“Anthony Davis playing in New Orleans, I don’t want to say they are wasted days, but they are non-days. He needs to be somewhere where he can be with another guy and they can have a run at a championship. He has been in New Orleans long enough. It is time for a change now. This is it. No better time to do this.”
Noise about Davis leaving New Orleans is reaching fever pitch, in part because the Pelicans have slumped to 15-20 and 14th in the Western Conference. If they keep losing, they might need to rethink their plan of not trading Davis.
His value to other teams only decreases as time passes. Teams would offer more to get him in time for the 2019 playoffs.
That said, there’s also reason to wait.
New Orleans is still in the playoff race, and there’s value in even a longshot attempt to win with Davis. Players as good as him are hard to come by. The Pelicans shouldn’t rush to move on. Even if their return in a Davis trade is eventually lower, there’s value in having him on the roster right now.
There’d also be another trade suitor next offseason. The Celtics can’t keep Kyrie Irving and trade for Davis until then, because both players are current on designated-rookie extensions and would both be acquired via trade. Getting Boston into a bidding war with the Lakers could maximize New Orleans’ return.
Ultimately, Davis will dictate a lot of this. If he wants out, the Pelicans will likely acquiesce.
So far, Davis has said he’s focused on winning in New Orleans this season. But Garnett trying to change his mind could carry weight.