Anthony Davis wants to be liked.
The New Orleans Pelicans’ soft-spoken superstar is non-confrontational and not controversial.
In fact, he hopes the fans and community of New Orleans “will still love him” despite publicly requesting a trade out of the city this week, hoping they understand his desire to play in a place more conducive to consistently winning and competing for championships.
“I hope so, but, I mean, I can’t read people’s minds,” Davis said Friday afternoon, making his first public comments since asking to leave the New Orleans Pelicans.
Let me clarify it for the 25-year old All-NBA stalwart.
There are people who will dislike you.
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A portion of Pelicans fans, who have supported Davis as the face of the franchise since he arrived in 2012, are going to be soured by the way he is abandoning them with a season-and-a-half remaining on his contract.
But, Davis did his best to navigate through his 14-minute news conference without bothering or offending anyone.
He shielded his agent Rich Paul, who is responsible for Davis receiving a $50,000 fine last week, by claiming Paul didn’t mean for his request to be brought to the public. Davis also said the timing was chosen to give the Pelicans ample opportunity to get the best deal possible and insisted there’s no preferred destination and no preferred timeline for the deal to be done.
It was a direct rebuttal to loads of reports claiming Davis is angling to join LeBron James (a close confidant of Paul’s) with the Los Angeles Lakers or perhaps the New York Knicks. Meanwhile, more reports flooded in just hours before Davis spoke, pointing out he’ll decline an extension with any other franchise except those two, severely limiting the Pelicans’ options.
For all the stress and frustration that came with the news of Anthony Davis' desire to leave New Orleans, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry handled …
“That’s on the Pelicans organization (to make the trade),” Davis said. “I never gave them a timetable, never gave them a destination.”
As for his decision to leave? Davis declined opportunities to explain why the organization lost his confidence, prompting all of this to begin with.
He also wouldn’t say why he felt he can’t win a championship in New Orleans.
Ultimately, words were uttered from his mouth, but nothing was really said.
“I just feel like it’s my time,” Davis said, using that phrase as a mantra throughout the news gathering. “It’s as simple as that.”
There’s nothing simple about it. Those words don’t actually explain anything.
In fact, the only noteworthy item Davis expressed was he expects to play for the Pelicans again if he hasn’t been traded by the time he comes off the injury report.
The NBA trade deadline is a week away, and the Los Angeles Lakers have pushed their chips to the center of the table, according to report.
"My intention is to play,” Davis said. “I’ve been working to get my finger back healthy. Obviously, it’s a tough situation, but my intention is to still play. And when I’m able to play, I plan on suiting up.”
Coach Alvin Gentry couldn’t give a definitive answer on the matter, either.
The whole exchange truly underscores just how naïve and silly this entire affair has become.
What benefit does it serve the Pelicans to play Davis one more minute in a New Orleans uniform? Why can’t anyone just give a straight answer and say if Davis doesn’t want to be here anymore, you can’t risk him freakishly tearing an Achilles tendon like DeMarcus Cousins did?
The moment his trade request became a matter of public knowledge, Davis’ tenure as a Pelicans player effectively ended. Perhaps it would be different if everything was kept quiet, but that’s not the situation.
This is all obvious. And it’s simple.
But Gentry can’t state the obvious and the simple, because the decision is going to come from a higher level of the franchise. And nobody else is willing to speak to the public until this is all complete.
And Davis is being equally subversive.
Why is he claiming he doesn’t have a destination in mind when every shred of evidence says he does? Every day provides leaks, coming from Davis’ camp, in an attempt to box the Pelicans in to a deal before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
But Davis just claims it’s not happening.
And it’s why none of this feels like it is being orchestrated by Davis, but by the people around him. And it’s symptomatic of where the NBA is right now.
A likable, non-confrontational, 25-year old has gotten so caught up in the chase for acceptance as a superstar that he’s willing to ask for a move, but isn’t even comfortable enough to explain why.
“I just feel like it’s my time,” Davis said. “This has nothing to do with the organization, teammates, fans, community, nothing. This is me. This is my decision. Something I wanted to do.”
It just doesn't seem that way.
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