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NBA Rumors: Anthony Davis Expresses Love for NOLA

Anthony Davis expressed his love for New Orleans and the Pelicans organization. Here’s why he’s not going anywhere.

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Davis Expresses Love for New Orleans

[Anthony] Davis will make $7 million in the final year of his rookie contract, but is eligible for a maximum contract extension next summer that could be worth about $90 million over five years. If he is not signed to an extension prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, he will be a restricted free agent in July 2016.

Davis actually could sign a much more lucrative contract in 2016 when the new television contract hits, but isn’t sure if he wants to explore free agency.

“I love it here in New Orleans,” Davis said. “Great city. Great atmosphere. …We’re getting the fans back and New Orleans back buzzing for the Pelicans, a great organization. I love my team here.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction. I don’t know what the future holds, but right now I’m definitely loving the team and the organization.”

via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports

While NBA fans are already dreaming of Anthony Davis leaving New Orleans and joining their favorite team, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be suiting up elsewhere anytime soon.

The Pelicans will obviously offer him a max contract extension next summer that could lock him up for five years. Even if he were to choose not to sign the extension (possibly to hit free agency in 2016 when the new TV deal increases contract values), he would still be a restricted free agent in July 2016 so the Pelicans could just match any offer sheet he signs.

The only way around this is for Davis to sign the one-year qualifying offer and play out the season to become an unrestricted free agent (as Greg Monroe is doing in Detroit this season), but this seems risky and unnecessary since he has high praise for his current city and organization.

Plenty of rumors will surface regarding Davis’ future since he’s emerging as one of the NBA’s best players. He’s currently averaging 25.4 points (second in NBA), 11.2 rebounds (seventh in NBA), 3.4 blocks (first in NBA) and 2.1 steals (fourth in NBA), with a 34.52 PER (first in NBA) and 5.5 estimated wins added (first in NBA), and seems like the frontrunner for the MVP award at this point.

With numbers like that at only 21 years old, Davis is going to be highly coveted. However, it seems like a long shot that he’ll be leaving New Orleans anytime soon, so Pelicans fans can breathe a sigh of relief (even if building a contender around Davis with their current cap situation may be tough).

Gasol Not Thinking About Free Agency

Marc Gasol: “Thinking about what can happen (in free agency) in July doesn’t help one bit. I know I’m going to be asked about it all year long. When July comes, we’ll sit down and mull our options. It’s no secret that I have great love for this city, this franchise and these teammates. I came here when I was 16 and this is a city that respects me and loves me for who I am, where I can do on the court what I feel is best for the team. I put a lot of value on that.”

via RAC 1 (translation via HoopsHype)

It seems that Gasol is going to shoot down any free agency questions throughout the season, as he has much more important things to focus on throughout the season.

His Memphis Grizzlies are currently 13-2, which is tied for the best record in the NBA, and Gasol has gotten some MVP consideration (like Anthony Davis) as well. He is averaging 19.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals.

It remains to be seen what is going to happen this offseason, as Gasol is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer. He’s earning $15,829,688 this season, and Memphis can offer him more money and a longer deal once he hits free agency since they own his Bird rights.

It’s hard to imagine Gasol leaving the Grizzlies since he seems happy there and has been there forever. It’s even harder to imagine him walking away from Memphis just as they’ve emerged as arguably the NBA’s best team. If Gasol re-signs over the summer, the Grizzlies could bring back their entire core next season and continue to contend, which may be too good to pass up for the big man.

Still, don’t be surprised if a lot of Gasol rumors surface between now and July. As previously stated with Anthony Davis, great players tend to make the rumor mill churn because other teams target them and fans dream of acquiring them. Only time will tell if Gasol switching teams is a pipe dream or an actual possibility.

Thunder Waive Telfair

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived guard Sebastian Telfair, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

via Thunder press release

In case you missed this move hours before the start of Thanksgiving, the Thunder decided to waive reserve point guard Sebastian Telfair.

This season, Telfair had appeared in 16 games (with one start) for the Thunder, averaging 8.4 points, 2.8 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.5 minutes. This decision to let go of Telfair likely means that Russell Westbrook is on the verge of returning for the Thunder.

This move is somewhat surprising, as Telfair’s contract was fully guaranteed at $915,243 and he had just signed with the Thunder over the offseason. Telfair turned down lucrative offers overseas in order to join Oklahoma City, but now he’s an unrestricted free agent once again.

Oklahoma City’s roster now stands at 15 players. They had 16 players prior to this move because they were granted a hardship exception by the NBA due to their injuries, which allowed them to add a player (Ish Smith on Nov. 7) without waiving someone. But now that they’re getting players back into the rotation, they must get back down to 15 players.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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