The fact that he looked worn down from the Pelicans’ heavy schedule, coupled with the hip issue, only underscores just how talented he really is — which is precisely why the Celtics, and so many other teams around the NBA, are constantly surveying the situation in New Orleans to see if Davis will sign the supermax contract extension he will undoubtedly be offered next summer. If he doesn’t sign it, the Pelicans will have no choice but to trade him. If it comes to that, there will be no shortage of suitors, with Boston obviously among them. Davis, though, said he wasn’t thinking about any of that. “I heard it tonight,” the 25-year-old said when asked if he heard the local fans cheering for him during the game. “But I’m just focused on this team. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team get wins with the roster we have. It’s been a rocky season, so it’s on me to try to figure it out.
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Down the hall later, Gentry acknowledged the rumor issue has been addressed with Davis. “I talked to him and told him that’s totally on him,” the coach said. “You know, he should do whatever he thinks is necessary, talk or not talk about it. But I told him we’re not covering any of it. I said all we’re going to worry about is our season this year and try to get it back to the playoffs. And then after that, I mean, it’s not a decision that any of us are going to have to make. It’s going to be him making the decision. That’s the way it is. “To me, it’s white noise. We’re going to play and do whatever we want to do, and when decision-making time comes, he’ll make a decision.”
Tom Westerholm: Celtics fans cheer Anthony Davis (it’s sideways, but you get the idea).
If that happens, the Pelicans will have only one logical option: to trade Davis before he leaves in free agency. The same process has played out with several others, including Leonard, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George. None of them, though, would inspire the kind of bidding war an available Davis would. “That’s what you guys do,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of the trade speculation. “You guys talk about it. He’s here. He’s playing on our team. We’re trying to win games. That’s the only thing that matters right now. “It’s not anything that I’m going to have a say-so in or anything else, so we don’t bother with it. We worry about now. We worry about winning games and putting everybody in the best position to win games.”
But most importantly as it pertains to the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics are very much in play as the ultimate long-term landing zone for the best player on the New Orleans Pelicans. A source with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the NBA told Get More Sports that Davis is considering five teams in the near and distant future: The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
The speculation isn’t expected to cool down, with Davis recently hiring Rich Paul of Klutch Sports — the same agent who reps LeBron James — to represent him. In the summer, the Lakers will be extremely aggressive in their pursuit of high-caliber stars to pair with James in the free-agent and trade markets. Boston, Golden State, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers will also be some of the teams monitoring Davis’ situation, sources told Yahoo Sports.
But most of all, Davis just wants to win. That’s why rival NBA executives are of the belief that Davis could be up for grabs for a large-market organization well before he is expected to opt out of his contract in 2020. He is eligible for a super-max extension with the Pelicans in July 2019 that is worth $235 million for five years. If Davis were to pass on such a massive deal, as some executives believe he could, the franchise would be forced to contemplate trading its cornerstone. Nevertheless, Davis said he’ll concern himself with contractual matters in the summer.
Davis told ESPN’s The Undefeated he is still under contract with New Orleans through the 2020-21 season and he is not the source of the departure rumors. “I got two years to ’20-’21. I’m here and whatever happens after that happens,” Davis told ESPN’s The Undefeated. “For me, right now it is about being the most dominant player in the league and helping this team win. You hear all the rumors. You hear all the talk. But it’s not coming from me. I’m here to be a Pelican, help this team move forward and help this team win a championship.”
He seems so loyal to New Orleans, but hiring Rich Paul (LeBron’s agent from Klutch Sports) was a major red flag for the Pelicans. The Lakers seem like the no-brainer move, either via trade this summer or free agency in two summers.
Insiders think that’s what Davis is doing, with the firing of agent Thad Foucher and hiring of Rich Paul, LeBron’s close friend and agent, all about the possibility of going to the Lakers. “Why else did AD do it?” asks an East GM. “Things are going great for him. The team is going good. He got the Derrick Rose extension [a five-year $150 million deal that each team is allowed to offer one player on his rookie contract.] “It’s not because of race. Thad Foucher is an Afro-American. It’s not because of agency. Thad Foucher is from the Wasserman Group and has Russell Westbrook. So why did he do it?”
Davis isn’t a free agent until 2020, but some teams are already mulling trade packages if Davis passes on an extension the New Orleans Pelicans can offer him next summer. This is the option that raises goosebumps among a handful of teams that think they might have a chance at landing Davis. The fact that Davis and the Pelicans are off to a fantastic start and that Davis has continued to be outwardly committed to New Orleans has not slowed this one bit.
“When you look at LeBron, every year you know he’s going to be great and his team is going to have a chance to win the title,” Davis said. “From here on out, I want to be in that conversation every year. Not every other year. Not every few years. Every year. If that’s going to happen, we’re going to have to win, and I’m going to have to be the most dominant player.” This was simply not the way Davis talked or felt when he was 21 or 22. But he’ll soon be 26, and this is his seventh year. This actually might be the beginning of his prime. He’s making statements like this not because he wants to create a sound bite or launch a marketing campaign, but because he has raised his expectations. It’s not lip service; his play shows that.
Those statements can be uncomfortable for some, especially with the Pelicans aware that he can be a free agent in 2020. More to the point, if Davis isn’t feeling the franchise next summer, when it can offer him a five-year extension for around $240 million, there’s going to be problems. Big problems. That reality is just below the surface on every decision that is taking place in New Orleans right now. Just being around the team and talking to its players, coaches and executives, the tension exists. To pretend it doesn’t isn’t genuine. That makes this season pretty important for the future of the franchise.
Those statements can be uncomfortable for some, especially with the Pelicans so aware he can be a free agent in 2020. More to the point, if Davis isn’t feeling the franchise next summer when it can offer him a five-year extension for around $240 million, there’s going to be problems. Big problems. That reality is just below the surface on every decision that is taking place in New Orleans right now. Just being around the team and talking to its players, coaches and executives, the tension exists. To pretend it doesn’t isn’t genuine. That makes this season pretty important for the future of the franchise.
To keep Davis past his current contract, the Pelicans will have to ask for more. Can the city and the franchise keep growing with their superstar? That is the pertinent question. “They have to know we’re nothing without them,” Davis said. Oh, Davis is something without them. But he’s also private, and he loves that there aren’t as many demands of him in a smaller market.
Anthony Davis: You can’t listen to what somebody else is saying or listen to all the white noise or, ‘AD’s going here, he’s going here, he’s going here.’ Well, AD is playing for the Pelicans this year. So my job is to focus on winning and helping these guys as much as possible on and off the floor. And the rest will take care of itself.
Oleh Kosel: In his interview with @Rachel__Nichols Anthony Davis said the upcoming super max contract he can sign next offseason as important, but noted that winning is a priority with his next breath.
Unlike some of the best players in the league though, Davis does not have an NBA Finals appearance, let alone a championship ring. The Pelicans aren’t expected to go far this year either. Winning is certainly important for Davis but he refused to state whether he may have to leave the Pelicans to do just that. “I think that’s a big part. Winning definitely helps everything, helps with your legacy, helps [you] be on the top of the list,” Davis explained. “But [for me] going to the playoffs every three years doesn’t help my case. At this point, it’s just about winning for me, being the most dominant player in the league, and whenever that time comes, I have a great team behind me that advise me on some decisions but my focus is on this year.”
In addition, recent reports claim Davis is eyeing the Lakers as well as other teams such as the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks. The Chicago native joked he had no idea how the rumors started but isn’t paying attention to them for now. “You hear it everywhere, it’s funny, how did that [Lakers rumors] even happen? How does that correlate?” Davis asked with a laugh. “You know, in my head, I don’t pay attention to it, I keep going back to it but it’s the truth, I look at what I have now and what I can do now and that’s helping my team win.” “You can’t listen to what somebody else is saying, all the white noise, ‘AD’s going here, AD’s going here,’ — AD’s playing for the Pelicans this year… the rest will take care of itself,” he said.
Will Guillory: Been talking to a few people around Anthony Davis since conversation-gate broke. They’ve all insisted that AD’s only focus is winning in NOLA this year. “There’s not a player in this league that wouldn’t want to play with AD but he’s focused on the task at hand,” one source said
If they do, the Celtics will be one of the obvious suitors, with Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Robert Williams and/or a number of future picks including a possible top-five selection to dangle. Even if Tatum’s off the table, Boston would be able to field a competitive offer. Several league sources have said they believe Davis could end up either with the Celtics or Lakers if the Pelicans were to move him. If he landed with the Celtics, he’d be reunited with former Team USA teammate Irving. The two have already spoken about what it would be like to play together in Boston, according to a league source.
It’s a fact of life in the NBA. Franchise players are flipped around with astounding frequency, including James and Kevin Durant, who bolted from title-contending teams in free agency within the past three years. But the Pelicans, per a variety of sources, don’t seem particularly concerned about Davis exchanging agents, regardless who he hires. And they shouldn’t be.
So, how gratified are you that this success you’re having is finally starting to drown out all the talk of ‘AD is going to leave New Orleans in a couple of years?’ Anthony Davis: It’s still there. I still hear it. But I’m just focused on now. Right now, we’re playing well. I love these guys. I told them the other night at dinner, this is probably the best team I’ve been on, from team chemistry to the way we play, to everything we do together. Guys are really locked in and want to win.
Anthony Davis is on his way to earning All-NBA honors this season, an accomplishment that would make him super max eligible in the summer of 2019. Based on earning All-NBA in 2016-17 and likely 2017-18 (two out of the previous three seasons), Davis would be eligible to sign a five-year $230M extension with a starting salary of $39.7M in July 2019.
Scott Kushner: Anthony Davis: “I’m here until 2021 and then I’ll make a decision from there. I don’t plan on leaving in the next couple of years or anything like that. I’ve always said I wanted to be here and that’s still true.” Davis: “We have taken steps to be a winning franchise. We have just been hit with the injury bug every year since I’ve been here so we can’t see our full potential. We know where we could’ve been if we had those guys. But we don’t. We have to keep playing.”
Davis: “You have to take it year by year. I don’t go into any year saying I don’t want to be here or nothing like that. Of course at some point you want to win. I feel like we are trying to get the right pieces around here.” AD: “I think our front office is doing a better job. The best job they can do. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. But you do have to take it year by year & see how it goes. That’s how I’m approaching it. Of course Cuz is a big factor, what he is going to do or not.”
Will Guillory: Anthony Davis was really candid today about his interview with ESPN that aired yesterday. Said that he’s taking things year by year, but stressed that he wants to be in New Orleans
Davis is in the second season of a five-year, $127 million contract that expires in 2021. He has been patient with the Pelicans personnel problems and the franchise’s frequent missteps. He loves New Orleans and swears he doesn’t long for a major market. He does, however, long for a well-run, well-balanced franchise. He sees it with San Antonio and Oklahoma City and plans to hold his franchise accountable to find a way. Cousins’ arrival is a start, but the Pelicans are devoid of depth and developing young talent. “You look at the Warriors, Cleveland. Boston,” he said. “They lose Gordon [Hayward], they’re still playing well. KD-Steph-Draymond-Klay. They play so well with each other. They move the basketball. They don’t care who scores. Steph and Draymond are out, and they still won. KD is out. They still win.
Baxter Holmes: Anthony Davis talked to @Sirius XM NBA about rumors that he and Russell Westbrook might one day join the Lakers: Anthony Davis: “Some rumor from somewhere said me and Russell was going to LA. I haven’t talked to Russell or whoever the source is about that so I’m not sure where this came from but I’m here. I just signed an extension here. If I didn’t want to be here I would have never signed the extension. (via Sirius XM NBA Radio).”
Anthony Davis: “For the next four years I’m going to be a Pelican. I love it here. I love playing for the organization. I don’t intend on going anywhere. I want to be here. I never was one of those guys who — I was always one of those guys who wanted to stay with their franchise, and you know, [win] championships, just like Tim Duncan did. I looked up to Tim, I still look up to Tim, but the way he did it through his entire career definitely set a great example for me, so I want to be the same way.”
But I asked Demps about the great challenge with a player like Davis: Getting him to sign the next deal. “Wow,” Demps said, laughing. “Honestly, I haven’t gotten that far yet.”
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There is little doubt the Celts will be ringing the Pelicans’ phone next summer to investigate what it might take to extradite Davis from the Crescent City. But, as noted here before, no deal can be made this season that joins Davis and Kyrie Irving because both are under Rose Rule maximum contracts, and teams are allowed just one each. Irving presumably will be on a new deal next offseason when he opts out and signs here for more money and years.
The other relevant fact in all this is if the Pelicans do entertain offers for Davis, who cannot opt out and become a free agent until the summer of 2020, the Celtics will have the most to offer in terms of quality players and quantity of first-round draft picks. League execs have speculated that Irving and Jayson Tatum might be the only untouchables — and even that could be negotiable for a star who won’t turn 26 until March.
In between tipoff and the final buzzer, there were flashes of Wade turning back the clock and plenty of cheers. He received a standing ovation upon entering the game off the bench in the first quarter, and later was the subject of a tribute video.
“I thought it was incredible,” Wade said of the gesture. “I wanted to thank Rob Pelinka, Magic, Jeanie Buss. Just the whole Laker front office and Laker Nation for allowing that to happen. I did not expect that. That was so cool. I looked over and saw my wife beaming. It was great. I appreciate them for giving me that moment.”