New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis can enter free agency next summer and be one of the top names on the market. His agent, Rich Paul, has informed the team Davis wants out sooner than that.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul says Davis has requested a trade from the team. In addition, Paul informed the Pelicans that Davis has no intention of signing a long-term contract extension if and when one is offered.
The Pelicans confirmed the report on Monday afternoon, saying in a statement to ESPN that, “Anthony Davis’ representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade.”
“Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organization’s top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city […] Relative to the specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our timeline. One that makes sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization.”
Davis could sign a 5-year, $240 million super max extension this summer and can become a free agent in the summer of 2020.
“Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship,” Paul told Wojnarowski.
As for the timing of the trade request, Paul told Wojnarowski: “Anthony wanted to be honest and clear with his intentions and that’s the reason for informing them of this decision now. That’s in the best interests of both Anthony’s and the organization’s future.”
Shams Charania of The Athletic also reports Davis has had conversations with his teammates prior to this decision. Additionally, The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reports Paul has not given the Pelicans a preferred trade destination for Davis.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry spoke with Davis on Monday morning and said Davis told him he’d play the rest of the season once he recovers from his finger injury. He was diagnosed with a sprained left finger late last week that was expected to sideline him up to two weeks.
“He plans on playing out the season,” Gentry said on Monday afternoon, writes Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune. “That’s my role as to try and win as many games as we possibly can. I think AD is a professional guy. He’s going to play as hard as he can once he gets well and we’re going to the best we can to try and put our team in a position to win games.”
Gentry, who addressed the media just hours after the Davis’ trade request went public, said the team understands Davis’ request.
“I spoke to the team this morning and I think everybody understands it’s part of the business,” Gentry said, per The Times-Picayune. “I thought we had a good practice. It was a spirited one. That’s all we can do. We have to come out and prepare the team. He’s still under contract. When he gets healthy, he’ll play.”
When asked if Davis could be dealt prior to the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline, Gentry said that was something “you’d have to take up with (Pelicans general manager) Dell (Demps) and (Saints general manager/Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations) Mickey (Loomis).”
Davis declined to speak with reporters today after the Pelicans’ practice, but Gentry said Davis had treatment and went through a normal workout in the morning. New Orleans is traveling to face the Houston Rockets tomorrow (8 ET, TNT).
“I didn’t want to imagine it happening, but in the NBA, stuff happens,” Gentry said. “You deal with it. That’s what we’re doing. We’re dealing with what we have here. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to compete and try to turn the season around.”
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday spoke with reporters at Monday’s practice and was asked about Anthony’s reported trade request. Holiday said Davis told him of about his desire to be traded prior to it coming out today.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing with Anthony. He’s like 90 percent of the reason why I stayed (in New Orleans),” Holiday said, per Will Guillory of The Athletic.
“Anthony had to do what’s best for him, Holiday said. “It’s business. … he’s going to come in here and work.”
News of Davis’ trade request presents a prime opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers to make a run at him. Paul also represents Lakers star LeBron James and the team has been determined to acquire Davis in a deal, Wojnarowski reports.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Lakers and Knicks have started to prepare trade offers for Davis.
The Boston Celtics have also been rumored off and on for years as a potential landing spot for Davis. The Celtics have a treasure trove of assets — young players, future Draft picks and veterans on favorable deals — that could make such a super-trade possible. However, the Celtics cannot deal for Davis because a rule tied to when he and current Celtics star guard Kyrie Irving signed their last contract extensions.
Known as the “Rose Rule,” this provision allows certain players coming off their rookie-scale contracts to earn 30 percent of the salary cap as opposed to 25 percent. To be eligible, a player must have achieved one of the following four accolades in his first four seasons: Kia MVP award, Kia Defensive Player of the Year Award or two All-NBA selections. (When Davis and Irving inked their extensions, All-Star selections were in the wording instead of Kia DPOY.) Davis was a two-time All-Star by the summer of 2015 (when he signed his extension) as was Irving (when he did likewise in the summer of 2014).
Per the NBA collective bargaining agreement, teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension under the “Rose Rule.” The Celtics picked up Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August of 2017, so they cannot trade for Davis until Irving either leaves in free agency or agrees to a new deal. The earliest that can take place is July 1, 2019.
If Davis is traded and plays out the rest of his current contract, his new team could sign him to a five-year, $205 million extension next summer. If he enters unrestricted free agency in 2020, the most Davis could sign for with a new team is four years at $152 million.
Davis is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 blocks per game this season. He’ll almost certainly become a six-time All-Star later this week when the NBA announces the full rosters for this year’s game that will be played Feb. 17 in Charlotte.
Davis’ finger injury occurred in a 128-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 18. Various other injuries — including an ankle injury earlier in the season and a hip injury in November — have limited Davis to 41 games this season.
Despite those bumps in the road, though, Davis has been spectacular when healthy. He has scored 30 or more points 12 times this season and 40 or more points seven times. However, the Pelicans are just 11-8 in those 19 games.
New Orleans is 22-28 and has lost three straight and seven of its last eight games, putting it at No. 13 in the Western Conference playoff chase. Last season, Davis was instrumental in the Pelicans’ playoff run, powering them into the postseason as the No. 6 seed. Once there, they swept the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round before losing in five games in the West semifinals to the Golden State Warriors.
He’s an elite superstar on a team that hasn’t gotten past the second round of the playoffs since he’s been in New Orleans — and in four of his first six full seasons, the Pelicans didn’t qualify for the postseason at all.
His telling New Orleans that he wants out is the latest power move by a star player who wants to get traded, following a path now similar to what Kawhi Leonard did when he wanted to be traded by San Antonio and what Paul George did when he decided it was time to move on from Indiana. Telling the Pelicans that he won’t re-sign with them provides a blunt message: Move me, or lose me for nothing.
But New Orleans, which controls Davis’ contract through the 2019-20 season, has been steadfast for months: The Pelicans have no desire to move their best player, who is in line to sign a $240 million, five-year extension in 2020.
“We’re not trading him,” Gentry said last month, one of many times he’s addressed the topic. “I can say that to the world. We’re not going to trade him, no matter what. That’s not an option.”
A five-time All-Star, Davis was an All-NBA first team member in three of the last four seasons. He has made three All-Defensive teams in his career and is the Pelicans’ all-time leader in points scored, rebounds, blocks, field goals attempted and made and free throws attempted and made.
A year ago at this time, the Pelicans had perhaps the most dominant frontcourt in the NBA with Davis lining up with DeMarcus Cousins. Then Cousins tore his Achilles, and wound up signing this past summer with Golden State.