With the Pelicans set to resume play this Friday in Indiana, it’s still not clear whether Anthony Davis will continue to take the court for the team going forward.
Davis has said he plans to play the rest of the season, and it appears the shoulder injury that knocked him out of last Thursday’s contest is minor, as he was able to play in the All-Star Game. However, there are reportedly members of the Pelicans’ organization who believe he has played his last game for the team — the club would prefer to sit him to minimize the risk of an injury that would adversely impact his trade value ahead of a crucial offseason.
In a column addressing the Davis situation, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes of “strong signals” that the Pelicans intend to re-engage the NBA this week to discuss the matter. The organization, which replaced general manager Dell Demps with interim GM Danny Ferry last week, hopes to convince league officials to reconsider their stance on forcing the Pelicans to play Davis, says Stein.
When the Pelicans initially mulled the possibility of sitting Davis following the trade deadline, the league reportedly reached out to remind them that teams are subject to fines of $100K for benching healthy players. New Orleans wouldn’t be the first club to sit a healthy veteran this season, but the NBA wants to make a distinction between a difference maker like AD and lesser players like J.R. Smith and Enes Kanter.
In Stein’s view, the league’s stance that the Pelicans would be hurting the ticket-buying public by holding Davis out of action rings hollow, since fans in New Orleans recognize that the All-Star big man no longer wants to be there. Forcing the Pelicans to play him against their will is making an uncomfortable situation even more toxic, Stein argues.
With 23 games left on the Pelicans’ schedule, this will be a situation worth keeping a close eye on the rest of the way. If the club eventually decides to sit Davis – with or without the NBA’s approval – the players’ union may get involved, which would make things even messier. But if the Pelicans hope to maximize their return for Davis in an offseason trade, the drama may be worth it.