- Anthony Davis did not get traded before the trade deadline, but his trade request has remained a major storyline in the NBA.
- At the All-Star Weekend, players, including Davis, media figures, and Adam Silver have all addressed the topic.
- The situation has been ugly for the Pelicans, as they have been playing Davis, perhaps against their wishes, and fired their GM on Friday in a move that was reportedly aimed to take back control in the trade negotiations.
- The NBA is not happy with the way the situation has played out, and with Davis now unable to be traded for several months, the story is not going away.
The trade deadline came and went, and Anthony Davis is still on the New Orleans Pelicans.
But that hasn’t stopped his trade request from remaining one of, if not the biggest talking point around the league during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.
After the Pelicans declined to deal Davis before the February 7 deadline – with the Los Angeles Lakers most notably bidding on the 25-year-old star – the saga seemed as if it would die down, with a trade unable to happen until the offseason. Instead, the fallout of the deal has been as noteworthy.
The league is not happy with the way the situation has unfolded.
The Pelicans are incentivized to not play Davis, both to protect his health and thus, his trade value, and to improve their standing in the draft lottery by losing games. They agreed to play him but on limited minutes and not in back-to-back games after the league notified them they would be violating rules by sitting a healthy player.
On the court, things didn’t look any better. Davis appeared to be going half-speed and drew attention when he scored just 3 points in a 40-point loss to the Orlando Magic.
On Friday, the Pelicans fired GM Dell Demps, the news over-shadowing the first big day of All-Star Weekend.
The decision came after Davis left a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder the night before with a shoulder injury. He then left the arena to get an MRI and did not return. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, ownership was “livid” with Davis for leaving, and there was reportedly miscommunication between the coaching staff and front office over the situation.
It didn’t help optics that Davis was still scheduled to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
A major talking point at All-Star Weekend
At media day on Saturday, many players were asked about Davis’ trade request. Several players supported Davis, saying players should have the right to ask for a change of scenery, particularly when teams have the power to trade them.
Davis himself drew one of the biggest media scrums on Saturday and fielded questions about his request.
Davis was remarkably candid during the process, saying teams like the Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks were all on his list of destinations he’d like to be traded. He even mentioned playing out the final 23 games for the Pelicans, suggesting they would be his last in New Orleans.
On Thursday, at a Turner Sports media availability, no topic got Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley talking as much as the Anthony Davis situation.
“I think the players need to take it upon themselves to maintain the level of the integrity of the game,” O’Neal said. “What’s different now is, I think people get – the players have a misconception about big markets, small markets. When you have social media, you’ve got a nice little following on social media, it’s like being in a big market.”
O’Neal said if he were Davis, he would not turn down the chance to sign the $US240 million “supermax” contract that only the Pelicans can offer him this offseason. He said he would tell other stars to join him in New Orleans.
Barkley, meanwhile, offered a more dire take, saying that if players try to take power over the owners, there will be a lockout in the future.
“All these clowns on TV talking about that it’s great that all these players are exuding powers,” Barkley said. “Let me tell you guys something: workers ain’t never gonna have power over their ownership. Ever. Now, it might work for a couple guys here and there, but in the history of the world, no workers have ever overtaken the people who own a business. And when these guys are sitting home locked-out in a couple years, I want you to remember I told y’all that.”
Barkley added: “I said last week, and it’s gotten worse already, this is a bad situation. It’s a bad look for the NBA.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also addressed the topic at length at his press conference on Saturday night. Silver said that while trade demands are nothing new, he would prefer discussions between teams and players about their futures together remain behind closed doors.
“I would just say, blanketly, no, I don’t like trade demands, and I wish they didn’t come, and I wish all those matters were handled behind closed doors,” Silver said.
“I think, when they make a public spectacle of it, I hear you in terms of the enormous media interest that comes from it, but that’s not the kind of media interest we’re looking for.”
The Celtics, believed to be able to offer the best package for Davis, cannot make a trade until July when Kyrie Irving becomes a free agent. The Celtics could not trade for Davis while Davis and Irving were on “designated” contracts; Irving becomes a free agent on July 1.
One league source told Business Insider that the Davis trade saga remains a big talking point in league circles. The same source said there is a belief that the situation could hold up major transactions between teams until it’s settled.
With 23 games still left on the Pelicans’ schedule and months ahead until a deal could go through, the situation, and the story, is not going away, at least for long.
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