The goal in New Orleans has not changed: Make Anthony Davis happy and keep him on the Pelicans.
The odds of reaching that goal seem to grow longer every day — and with each Pelican loss — but the franchise has not wavered. They will not talk Davis trade no matter who calls. Instead, the Pelicans are burning up the phone lines looking for trades that add talent to the roster. The goal is to win now.
That sentiment starts with ownership and Gayle Benson, as she told Larry Holder of The Athletic in a fascinating read about her and her life. She talked about the Pelicans and keeping Davis, but if he wants to go…
“I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony (Davis) here. I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back. But I always keep in touch with people that we lose, like Benjamin Watson. When he left, I kept in touch with him, and now he’s back. And then you understand it. Adrian Peterson too. A lot of people that left, I don’t ever hold grudges with people. Even as angry, well it wasn’t so much angry but disappointed as I was with his family, I don’t wish anybody harm. I think God takes care of things and he’s taken care of that situation.”
Sources have told me there is zero chance the Pelicans will trade Davis during the season, something coach Alvin Gentry has said publicly and others have reported as well. There was hope in some plush Los Angeles homes that Davis would try to force the issue at the trade deadline and push his way to the Lakers now, but that’s not Davis’ way. He’s not going Jimmy Butler and thrashing a franchise to get what he wants, especially because Davis cares about New Orleans. If (when?) Davis does not sign a $239.5 million supermax contract extension this summer the Pelicans will be forced to talk trade (the Celtics and Lakers are standing at the front of that line, but a lot of teams want in the conversation), but nothing happens before then.
Benson realizes that if Davis wants to go he can, and that will force the Pelicans’ hand. Eventually. But she’s more at peace with it than most owners would be, and most Pelicans’ fans are for that matter.