This is almost too mundane to be uncomfortable.
But regardless of what anyone around the New Orleans Pelicans says, the past week has been exceedingly unordinary.
Sure, the Pelicans’ 105-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets was like so many other Wednesday nights for the past decade in New Orleans. There were some empty seats, some half-hearted laughs at promotions and fans eager to watch their team push for a win.
Even the presence of Anthony Davis on the team’s bench — just days after he requested a trade with desire to win consistently as primary motivation — didn’t throw a noticeable wrinkle in the game unless you were looking for it.
There were no outwardly emotional outbursts, jeers, boos or section-wide chants as seen elsewhere following similar franchise-shifting events.
“AD is a good kid,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “The guys in the locker room like him and he likes them. Nothing has changed from a coaching standpoint. It was within his right to do, to ask for it. So it’s out there.”
All normal, right?
No. This is not normal. And it can’t possibly last.
Can we all just admit this is a bizarre set of circumstances and recognize the absurdity of the moment?
As Davis huddled with his teammates in the locker room, the pregame introductory video ran with his image removed from it. The team’s official broadcasts didn't mention him as they attempt to pivot the franchise toward the future.
So while Davis is simultaneously sitting alongside his team, he’s being wiped away from the franchise’s public image. It’s jarring because he’s occupied the space front and center since 2012.
And when Davis left his seat on the bench in favor of the locker room during the second half, it drew attention and prompted questions in the postgame news conference about the introductory video and Davis’ fourth-quarter whereabouts. The inquiry perturbed Gentry, who, despite not making most of these decisions, is solely charged with speaking for the franchise on these matters.
“I think we are making more of a big deal out of this than it is,” Gentry said, after claiming he’s never seen the pregame video and didn’t look down to the end of the bench. “As I said, he still talks to all of the guys and was in (the locker room) when (owner Gayle Benson) came in. That’s what I know.
“What you guys want to write or make out of that, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. But I think you’re reaching.”
Well, it’s a simple conundrum. Is he a part of the team or not?
It kind of depends on where you look and when. And assuming he's still here after next Thursday's trade deadline, is the franchise really prepared to go about this Kabuki theater for the next 10 weeks?
It’s feasible for now, especially when he’s dealing with a minor finger fracture and is out of uniform. But once he’s healthy, will Davis ever play with the Pelicans again? If not, is he going to keep attending games and practices to remain a presence around the team?
Again, the responses Gentry provided are vague, likely because they depend on decisions made at different levels of the organization — levels that have yet to address to matter publicly.
“That’s a hard thing to answer and I really don’t know how to answer it,” Gentry said when asked if Davis would play for the Pelicans when he’s healthy again. “I assume that he will. But that’s something that will have to be discussed and see what’s best for him and what’s best for our team.”
What possible benefit can the Pelicans gain by playing Davis again? How can you hurriedly excommunicate his likeness and then put him back in uniform?
Perhaps some of these answers will be cleared up Friday at the team’s practice facility, when Davis addresses the media for the first time since he asked to be traded. But it seems beyond his control, too.
From the outside, this situation appears to be distracting and unsustainable for the rest of the Pelicans roster, which has performed admirably against two of the Western Conference’s best teams, despite the Davis shadow and the abscence of five of their top six scorers.
For their part, though, the players have largely shrugged off the issue as part of the business of basketball, echoing their respect for Davis despite his desire to leave them.
But for the sake of the fanbase, and the team’s image, shouldn’t there be some clarity on the matter of whether Davis is a part of the team?
How can anyone move forward until that question is answered?