Anthony Davis is playing out the end of an awkward season.
Through his agent (Rich Paul) he told the Pelicans he would not re-sign with them and asked for a trade, but the timing before the trade deadline and public campaign clearly were trying to push him to the Lakers. The Pelicans’ brass was not playing ball. Davis did not get traded, and now we have this awkward dance. The Pelicans want to sit him the rest of the way but can’t (league and union pressures), so this ridiculous compromise has been struck where he plays 20 minutes a night, not the fourth quarter, and the Pelicans grind out the rest of their season just trying to ignore it. It’s a PR mess.
Through it all, Davis has said little. That is, until he went on “The Shop,” LeBron James’ barbershop talk show on HBO. Davis was in the episode released Friday and he had plenty to say about him wanting to take control of his career.
“All the media coverage around me, and now I’m getting a chance to take over my career and say what I want to say and do what I want to do. So now you see everybody [saying], ‘All right, I see AD changing.’ Everybody’s telling me, ‘You’re growing up. It’s about time to take care of your business, take care of your career.’
“So now, as a player, as the CEO of my own business, I’ve got the power. I’m doing what I want to do and not what somebody tells me to do.”
LeBron’s Lakers want to trade for Davis, but the Boston Celtics and other teams are expected to get into the bidding this summer. Davis was honest in saying he does not know what’s going to happen.
“It is tough because you just don’t know. I don’t know. I have one year left on contract, so I’m not sure what they’re gonna do. Obviously, I stated my intentions. But I did that this year and they [essentially said], ‘No, we’re going to keep you here.’ So for me, it’s just not knowing what’s going to happen.”
It wasn’t so much “we’re going to keep you here” as “we feel bullied and are not just going to send you where you want to go.” Also, sources have told me all along the Pelicans believe they will get better offers than what the Lakers can put on the table.
Now Davis gets booed at home games in New Orleans, which shouldn’t be a surprise as the fans feel betrayed.
“When I walked into the arena and I heard [the boos], I was like, ‘Damn, seven years I’ve been here, all the stuff I did for you, all the community stuff.’ And so it bothered me. And then when we tipped it up, it was over. I was like, ‘I’m about to get 30.’ [Ed note: He had 32 in that first game back]…
“When I caught it, they booed. Then when we started losing, and I went on a run myself, they were like, ‘We want AD.’ And I was like, ‘You’ve got to make up your mind. You can’t boo me and cheer me.'”
Actually, they can and should boo and cheer him. Of course the New Orleans fans want him to stay, he’s one of the five best players in the world. The Pelicans are better with him and, from the fan’s perspective, he wants to leave them. That stings. So their emotions are all over the place with him. That’s to be expected.
Davis may not like how the narrative is spun about him now, but that’s part of the price of the game he chose to play — not basketball, but forcing his way out of New Orleans. He has the right to control his own destiny, to ultimately play where he wants to play, but he can’t expect the many fans around the league emotionally invested in what jersey he pulls on next year to see it that way (same with teams whose financial fortunes can change on his decision). Once Davis is traded there will be new sets of unhappy fan bases. Once you’re the CEO that’s just part of what comes with it.