Davis’ Future Is Murky But Far From Decided
As the New Orleans Pelicans continue to sit just outside of the Western Conference Playoff picture, the rumbling and speculation about the future of Pelicans’ star Anthony Davis seem to be an increasing topic among NBA insiders. While no one really knows what the future holds for Davis, there is an increasing belief that the Pelicans are on the clock.
There are a few things worth noting about this situation, and where Davis’ head seems to be based on people close him.
He Hasn’t Asked, And They Aren’t Looking
As things stand today both Davis and the Pelicans are not looking for a divorce. In fact, they seem to be pretty unified.
League sources have said the Pelicans have been exploring options – like all NBA teams do at this point in the season – and are looking to add to the team, not meaningfully subtract.
Davis hasn’t even hinted at being unhappy with his situation, according to sources close to the process, but it’s clear that Davis expects the team to make whatever moves necessary to ensure they make the postseason. But his camp hasn’t expressed any desire to move. In fact, internally, they have said the same things Davis is saying publicly that he wants to win in New Orleans.
He hasn’t asked, and they are not looking is what is coming out of New Orleans.
In His Heart He Wants A Reason To Stay
Davis is in exactly the same situation that other stars have been; there is a sense of loyalty to the team that drafted and, ultimately, paid him. Davis believes in his teammates, and he knows he is under contract.
As much as fans like to vilify players who leave as free agents, most of them wanted their previous teams to win. The decision to ultimately leave wasn’t as much about wanting out, as it was wanting to a chance to have a better winning environment, either in the immediate term like Kevin Durant or in the longer term like LeBron James and the Lakers.
Davis’ dream scenario is to win a championship in New Orleans.
Equally, sources close to the situation have said repeatedly that Davis wants a reason to stay. The supermax contract the Pelicans can offer is part of that, but also surrounding him with complimentary stars that can really challenge matters, too, which brings the situation back to the front office being aggressive.
The good news for the Pelicans is that some of their bad contract decisions are starting to age out. The Pelicans are looking at a little bit of cap space this summer, and some soon-to-be ending contracts to peddle around the draft in June to work with.
The Pelicans made a number of bold moves in the last eight months, including trading for Nikola Mirotic and signing Julius Randle in free agency. If the front office can pull off another big move, they might have enough to not only move up in the pecking order of the West; they might have enough to convince Davis to stick it out beyond his current deal.
New Orleans can not rest on its laurels, that much is very clear to everyone involved.
The Change In Agents Was About Being A Bigger Brand
Davis’ decision to change agents and sign with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports was met with skepticism by those preaching the “Davis would stay” message.
Sources close to the situation said Davis’ decision to change agents wasn’t as much about forcing his way out of New Orleans as it was aligning with an agency with relationships all across the media landscape.
Davis’ inner circle has long believed he should have more endorsements and a bigger NBA presence, and signing with Klutch was more about that than his next contract or his next team.
It doesn’t hurt that Klutch has a proven track record getting its clients exactly what they want in the contract process, and aligning with LeBron James doesn’t hurt either.
The idea that signing with Klutch immediately equates to Davis being a Laker at some point in the future is a little bit of a stretch, but it is clear that if the Lakers want a meeting when the time comes, they will get one.
8th Place Isn’t Good Enough
The prevailing thought among NBA insiders is that the ball is clearly in the Pelicans court on their future with Davis. They have the means to pay him radically more guaranteed dollars by way of a supermax contract that will likely be worth more than $225 million. They have something of an advantage in that he wants to win there.
That puts the Pelicans front office on the clock to put a team around Davis that is more than a would-be playoff contender.
In the end, if Davis leaves the franchise, it will be because the team can’t be more than an eighth seed contender.
It’s been said repeatedly that eighth seed isn’t good enough to keep a star like Davis happy, and NBA history has shown expected loyalty out of mediocrity never works out in the long-run.
While Davis is under contract with the Pelicans for one more fully guaranteed year (he holds a team option in the 2020-21 season), there isn’t a sense of needing to overreact.
Sources close to the Pelicans continue to say they’ll do whatever they have to do to compete. It is going to be on the front office to make more moves, and that means being aggressive this year when the trade window really comes open.
There is no doubt that Davis could follow the path other stars have paved and exit at some point in the future, but, for now, neither he nor the Pelicans seem to be looking for an exit anytime soon.
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