As of now, the Pelicans are on a five-game losing streak and sit at 14th in the Western Conference. Even though the Western Conference is still wide open, this is still an extremely disappointing first-half of the season. The Pelicans’ front office must be considering that they should trade their superstar Anthony Davis and start a complete rebuild.
Anthony Davis’ time in New Orleans has been remarkable yet disappointing. Davis is clearly the best player in Pelicans history, as he’s their all-time leader in points, rebounds, and blocks after just seven seasons. However, the Pelicans have only been to the playoffs twice and they have advanced to the second round just once. The Pelicans’ front office has failed to surround Davis with players to create a contender, and Davis has already made it clear that he values winning more than money. A supermax contract likely isn’t enough to keep AD in New Orleans. Trading him is the only way to get some value for him before he leaves in free agency. Rumors have been swirling around an Anthony Davis trade for years, but they have never been as serious as now.
The two teams that have been mentioned in trade talks are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. It’s clear that they are already recruiting Davis — look at the recent dinner he had with Lakers star LeBron James. Also, Celtics star Kyrie Irving has reportedly spoken to AD on a potential pairing in Boston. Both teams also have the assets to realistically make a deal happen. They own several high draft picks and promising young players who hold value in a deal for a star player.
That being said, Anthony Davis has stated time and time again that he wants to stay long-term in New Orleans but also that winning is his top priority. So if Dell Demps and the Pelicans’ front office aren’t proactive enough to get Davis some more help to make the team a true contender, which hasn’t happened thus far, Davis will want out. Demps has never been a guy to pounce on opportunities and has gotten rid of more assets than he’s acquired. He has a history of signing players to bloated contracts that they don’t deserve and trading away first-round picks.
Injuries have been the second biggest story of the Pelicans’ season behind the Davis trade discussion. Elfrid Payton looked like a potentially high quality point guard for the five games he has played this season (the Pelicans were 4-1 in that time), but injuries have kept him sidelined for the majority of the season. Nikola Mirotic has been out for several games as well. When the team eventually gets healthy, they still have a chance to make the playoffs. However, if they continue along their current path of mediocrity, don’t be surprised if Anthony Davis departs.
This is the outcome nobody wants to occur; a small-market team losing their star player to a big-market team. But if the Pelicans fail to start winning games and help Davis down the line, he isn’t going to let any more of his career go to waste. He has already endured seven seasons of disappointment. In the end, all Davis wants to do is win, and if that means he has to go somewhere else to do it; I’m sure he will take that opportunity. Two things are certain if he is eventually dealt away to another team. One, an Anthony Davis trade would be one of the biggest trades in NBA history. Two, whatever team lands him would gain a consistent All-Star with MVP potential, and would likely become instant Finals contenders.