Anthony Davis has been a fixture in trade rumors for years but this season, the clock is actually ticking. This summer, the New Orleans Pelicans will be able to offer Davis a supermax extension worth $239.5 million over five years, a deal significantly larger and one year longer than what he could fetch with any other team in free agency (which would arrive at the end of the 2019-20 season, if he declines his player option for 2020-21).
The Pelicans have made the postseason just twice in Davis’ six seasons and are teetering on the edge of playoff position this year. If he declines that extension this summer, it would be a sign that he’s exhausted with New Orleans and could force the team’s hand. If the perfect package materializes, or Davis offers up some other sign of discontent, the Pelicans could even close their eyes and sign onto a deal at this year’s trade deadline.
Davis is indisputably one of the best players in the league and perhaps the greatest player in franchise history. The Pelicans hold almost no leverage and while he would surely fetch a hefty return in a trade, Davis’ departure could be devastating. That’s why our esteemed basketball scientists here at The Step Back will be watching the situation closely and tracking the potential for catastrophe on The Official Anthony Davis Doomsday Clock.
The current time is…
Jan. 10, 2019: Your Bum Ask City
Wind those hands back a few. On Jan. 10, noted online person, chandler_billiot24, commented on an Instagram post, telling Lakers fans, “HE HAPPY HERE, HE AINT GOING TO YOUR BUM ASK CITY.” The post he was commenting on was a photo of Anthony Davis shared by the Lakers’ faithful. And then the Brow himself liked chandler_billiot24’s comment. If Davis does, indeed, consider Los Angeles to be a BUM ASK CITY, there would appear to be a smaller chance of him seeking to leave New Orleans to team up with LeBron and the Lakers.
Jan. 10, 2019: I’d trade me too
The Boston Celtics are one of those teams that have been consistently linked to Anthony Davis in trade rumors. On Jan. 10, the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum guested on a CLNS Celtics Beat podcast and told the hosts, “Yeah, I’d trade me too for Anthony Davis.” If Tatum is willing to fall on his sword for Boston, one more potential public relations barrier to is removed to a potential trade.
Jan. 4, 2019: You can’t hold him back
Pelicans owner Gayle Benson spoke with The Athletic’s Larry Holder and, as part of a wide-ranging pair of interviews, said the following about Davis’ future in New Orleans:
Taken at face value, Benson’s comments reflect an understanding of the reality — Davis means a tremendous amount to the franchise but the decision is ultimately his. Possibly related — the Pelicans were 17-22 and losers of six of their last eight games on the date this quote was published.
Jan. 3, 2019: We’re a better team
Davis came through with a career-high 26 rebounds, on top of 34 points, but it wasn’t enough to get the Pelicans past the Brooklyn Nets. With the Pelicans floundering and the playoffs in doubt, Davis let his frustrations fly, telling reporters after the game, “We’re a better team than our record shows. Everyone is frustrated. Players, coaches, front office. We’ve just got to do better.”
Davis keeps saying “we’ve” got to do better, but when you’re dropping 34 and 26, I think we can all agree he’s just being polite. Publicly calling out teammates, coaching staff and the front office. Let’s move things forward a bit.
Dec. 21, 2018: I’d take legacy over money
Just a few days after LeBron bubbled over with excitement at the possibility of playing with Davis, The Brow was asked about his values when it comes to making decisions about his future. Davis told Yahoo! Sports:
“I’d take legacy over money. I want to have a legacy. All my people that look up to me, the younger kids, I want them to know about AD’s legacy. Championships, the things I do in the community, being a good teammate, playing hard. All that stuff matters the most to me. Don’t get me wrong, money is amazing. But I think in that sense, money or legacy, I think my legacy will win that battle every time.”
On one hand, this would seem to be a negative for New Orleans — with just two playoff appearances during Davis’ tenure and this season’s playoff hopes very much in jeopardy, the extra dollars they can offer him on a supermax deal are the primary leverage in this situation. But that’s taking the cynical view. Davis mentions championships. But he also mentions his teammates, his effort level and the things he does in the community. Winning titles are one way to build a legacy, but loyalty to teammates and a city is another way to build one, even if it lowers your championship odds. At the very least, this would seem to indicate that Davis understands the connection between himself, this city and this franchise. If that’s a factor in his decision, it’s a good thing for New Orleans. Let’s tick things back a few minutes.
Dec. 18, 2018: That would be amazing
Before the Pelicans first visit to the Lakers this season, LeBron James was asked to weigh in on the hypothetical every Lakers fan dreams about and every Celtics fan dreads — The Brow and The King suiting up together in purple and gold. LeBron’s answer, per ESPN: “That would be amazing, like, duh. That would be incredible.”
The King has the best big man in the league in his sights. He even broke out the “duh.” LeBron has a funny habit of getting his way when it comes to personnel decisions.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
The Official Anthony Davis Doomsday Clock was illustrated by Todd Whitehead.