Anthony Davis has made it quite well through the first 22 years of his life without relying on any advice from us, thank you.
And although he’s benefitted from extraordinary family and managerial support, with a potential $140 million contract on the table, the Pelicans’ star power forward has to make the first big decision of his career.
In such situations — not that we’ve had a $140 million one — we’ve always found it helpful to write down the pros and cons.
So, AD, here’s some free, if unsolicited, advice:
PRO : You like New Orleans.
By all accounts, you enjoy your lifestyle — one that allows you to keep your privacy in a world where the camera’s always watching. You’re personally involved in your AD’s Flight Academy charitable works and, more importantly, you are the unquestioned leader of your team.
CON: New Orleans isn’t a basketball town.
Those full houses in the Smoothie King Center for the two playoff games didn’t hide the fact that most of the Pels games were played before thousands of empty seats, and there always seemed to be lots of fans for the visitors. (Remember the last Houston game?)
You and your teammates will never engender the passion the area has for the Saints. Do you want to be a permanent second fiddle?
PRO: Monty Williams.
He’s not just a professional mentor, he’s also a personal one. There may not be a more caring, moral man in the NBA. And he will always put your best interests first, as he has done from the time you were a rookie when he limited your minutes until this year when he didn’t rush you back from injury.
CON: Monty Williams.
As good of a man as you’ve got as your head coach, is he capable of making the Pelicans a title contender? That’s the question being debated by the team’s upper echelon right now. Would Williams be fired without your input? Do you want to play here without him?
As you said Sunday, you recognize this is a business, and coaching changes are a big part of it. Just ask Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
PRO: Dell Demps.
Assuming he returns, the Pelicans general manager has built this team around you by eschewing the draft in favor of young veterans. It’s like always buying late-model used cars instead of new ones. Sometimes it pays off (Quincy Pondexter), and sometimes it doesn’t (Omer Asik). There has been an emphasis on character with this team, which has made for a seemingly happy locker room with no outside distractions.
CON: Your teammates.
Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, Norris Cole. Along with you, they’re the core of this team, and the oldest is Cunningham, who turned 28 last week.
But like those late-model used cars we were talking about, have they already maxed out as players?
Every title contender needs at least two stars — look at Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Chicago for starters. Is there a potential second star on this team, and if not, is there the cap flexibility to acquire one?
When your team beat San Antonio to make the playoffs, they dropped confetti like you’d won the championship, and you were swept in the first round. Is that going to be as good as its gets for you with the Pelicans as currently constructed?
PRO: The money.
The Pelicans are the only team that can offer you 30 percent of the projected 2016-17 salary cap, which will be worth more than $30 million a season by 2020-21. That a lot of guaranteed money to pass up, even if your injuries have not been ones that appear chronic.
It also doesn’t necessarily tie you to the team for the prime of your career, although if the time came you wanted out, it would take an extraordinary amount of wheeling and dealing to make it happen.
CON: The Benson family feud.
There’s no indication of when and how it will ever be resolved, but if things don’t go favorably for Mr. B and Gayle, the structure of both the Pelicans and the Saints is sure to be disrupted. That can’t be good.
Do you want to be caught in the middle of that, as Chris Paul and David West were when George Shinn had to give the Hornets back to the NBA until Tom Benson purchased them in 2012 just before the pingpong balls fell the team’s way?
So what to do?
The prudent move is to sign the offer and figure things will work out for the best. But you could roll the dice and have more control over your immediate career options. Or you can split the difference and take, if it’s good enough, a shorter-term contract for less money and still have options. We’d prefer the last, but we would take the first over the second.
You and the folks around you have a far better sense of what’s best for you than we do. Everyone knows you are a generational talent who wants above all else to be a champion.
Whatever you do, we’re sure you’re going to make the right choice.