Maybe we’ve been burned too many times before.
Maybe we thought the lure of the a major market — Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta or perhaps his native Chicago would prove too tempting if he’d just wait for a year or two.
Or maybe we just underestimated the mindset of the young man.
That, folks, is the reason why Anthony Davis, No. 23 of your New Orleans Pelicans, All-NBA in just his third season, and, as his new coach said, “The best player in the league not named LeBron James,” has committed himself to his team, his franchise and his city, through 2021.
“It was reported a lot by people who didn’t really understand his true feelings that Anthony would not be signing,” Thad Foucher, Davis’ New Orleans-born agent, said Wednesday. “They just thought the best player in the game would automatically leave as soon as he could.
“But Anthony loves his team, he loves the organization and he loves the city. He’s committed because he is where we wants to be.”
So yes, this signing has a super “wow factor” feel to it.
“Anthony Davis essentially did the opposite of what was seen as a trend of taking short-term deals with annual leverage to opt out every other year,” said ESPN analyst Mike Wallace. “This move gives the franchise a sense of stability it hasn’t had since Chris Paul’s heyday.
“For a small-market team to get this done is remarkable in today’s NBA.”
Of course, the money helps.
Depending on how the salary cap winds up and if he meets certain benchmarks, Davis’ deal is worth an estimated $144 million, making it the richest in NBA history.
That’s more money than any other team could offer him, and that couldn’t happen in at least two years.
It also makes Davis the highest-paid athlete in New Orleans sports history, far eclipsing the five-year $100 million deal Drew Brees received from Tom Benson’s football side of the ledger in 2012.
Whoever said Mr. B is tight with his money?
And don’t forget, Brees had won a Super Bowl when he was rewarded for what he’d done.
Davis is being paid in anticipation of what he can do — and that includes delivering championships.
Plus, it’s all guaranteed.
When you’re just 22, that’s pretty sweet.
Pretty sweet for the Pelicans, too.
They have secured the services of a player whose skills haven’t yet been fully explored, but whom every available coach was clamoring to get a chance to do that exploring after the firing of Monty Williams.
Well-travelled, well-regarded Alvin Gentry got the job in large part because of a PowerPoint presentation he made to General Manager Dell Demps in his first interview outlining just how he could take AD’s offense to another level, even though he was coming off a historically good season already.
And Davis’ love for New Orleans notwithstanding, it had to be a selling point when Gentry and Demps met with AD and Foucher in Los Angeles on Tuesday night to finalize the deal, which was signed the minute it was allowed.
“Alvin was the icing on the cake,” Foucher said. “He’s going to come in with a style of play that’s going to get Anthony to the next level.”
“Anthony is not one of these guys who wanted to pick the coach, though. He feels very comfortable with the organization, including that they would make the right decision.”
That’s why Davis signed so quickly instead of dragging things out through the summer and conceivably into the fall.
“Anthony could have taken a two-year deal and waited for the real big TV money to kick in,” Foucher said. “But he said, ‘This is an unbelievable amount of money and this is the place I want to be. I don’t want to take a short-term deal and then have this conversation again two years from now.’
“He wanted everybody to know that, and he wanted them to know that now.”
So give a lot of credit to Demps, too.
He gets criticized for giving up draft picks, even though he effectively explains that landing Davis made it more imperative to bring in young veterans as the core of the team (as of now, no one older than 29 is on this season’s roster), rather than trying to develop more rookies.
He had the guts to fire Williams after a playoff season because he felt Monty couldn’t win a championship. And put the blame for the Jrue Holiday snafu on the Philadelphia 76ers, whose responsibility was to disclose Holiday’s injury situation.
“I’ve dealt with just about every GM in this league, and Dell is one of the best,” Foucher said. “When he says something, you can believe what he says.
“Other people can say something to you, but you can’t always believe them. When Dell says, ‘Can we get this done?’ We get this done.”
And now, Demps has put together a deal that ranks as one of the biggest events in local sports history — ranking up there with the signing of Brees.
Brees, though, had few other suitors back in 2006. Remember how the Miami Dolphins passed on him?
Davis would have been tied up in New Orleans for two more seasons had he rejected the offer. Then you would’ve had a Kevin Durant-like situation in Oklahoma City, where a community totally embraces a player, only to likely see him move on to greener pastures.
In Davis, the Pelicans have been embraced by an emerging superstar — coverboy of NBA 2K16 and conqueror of Space Invaders.
But AD is also one who enthusiastically participates in his monthly Flight 23 events for youngsters and despite his youth and fame, is someone who gets it.
How many other players would be taking his parents and not his posse to clinics in China next week?
“Anthony is not only committed to the game and to New Orleans,” Foucher said, “but he’s trying to make an impact with young kids.
“He wants them to know that if they ever have the opportunity he has, they should want to give back to the community, too. It’s more than just basketball.”
Anthony Davis became a Pelican thanks to the lottery numbers coming up right.
He’s choosing to stay because he sees this as the place to fulfill his dreams. That’s huge.
It also makes Foucher very proud.
“No. 1, I get to say I represent this guy,” he said. “No. 2, the New Orleans Pelicans drafted him.
“No. 3, I’m from New Orleans, and No. 4, he decides to stay in one of the best cities in the world. And the good thing is, this kid feels the same way.”