There is a slight chance that basketball fans do not get to see New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis play another game this season.
Davis has reportedly recovered from his left finger avulsion and “eagerly wanted to suit up” against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday evening. But the front office prevented this decision, sidelining him until after the NBA trade deadline passes on Thursday.
It makes sense for New Orleans to sit him because he could get hurt, which would damage his trade value. Or he could help them win, hurting their odds at a successful tank for a better draft pick.
On his podcast, Chris Haynes said that the NBA superstar would take measures against the organization if they keep this going after the deadline (via Yahoo Sports):
“It’s possible they’re going to hold [Davis] out until the conclusion of the trade deadline and even possibly after that if he remains a Pelican. There’s a chance during the second half of the season, I was told, that they would probably look to shut him down to a certain extent … If it does get to that point where he’s still a Pelican after the deadline and the organization decides to make that move on sitting him down, that’s where I think we’re in uncharted territory. And I know for a fact [he] will probably file a grievance.”
This could be considered a counter-strike after Davis was recently fined $50,000 for his trade request.
Haynes said he is unsure how Adam Silver would respond to such a situation, noting the NBA commissioner has made strides against teams tanking for better draft picks.
The Pelicans would be in a much better position to get a better draft pick if Davis was sidelined. They have been reportedly shopping players on their roster including Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore for future draft picks — likely because all three would help them win now.
Of course, this could be another leverage move for Davis and Klutch Sports to get him alongside fellow client LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers.
After requesting a trade and then naming the destinations where he would be willing to re-sign, this could be a move to force New Orleans to trade Davis now and not later. If he is traded now, the Lakers are the presumed favorites.
This is likely because the Boston Celtics cannot trade for Davis until the offseason (once Kyrie Irving signs a new contract). While many believe the Celtics could make the best offer possible, Boston is not one of the “preferred destinations” for the superstar.
For the Pelicans, the path of least resistance is to trade Davis now and avoid accusations of tanking amidst shutting down a perfectly healthy player. But the front office in New Orleans has made it perfectly clear that they plan to operate on their own timeline, not the one outlined by Davis or his agent.