Pelicans stand firm on Davis

Forward wants to be traded to NBA title contender but team say they won't rush into talks

NEW YORK • The New Orleans Pelicans confirmed on Monday that forward Anthony Davis has asked to be traded, but insisted they would not be "dictated to" when it comes to letting their star go.

Davis, a five-time All-Star and a member of the 2012 London Olympic gold-medal squad, has told the team he will not sign a contract extension and wants to be traded to a National Basketball Association (NBA) contender before the league's Feb 7 transfer deadline.

"Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organisation's top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans and build our team for long-term success," the Pelicans said in a statement.

"Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organisation."

The statement added: "We have also requested the league to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction."

The last sentence could be interpreted as a reference to Davis' agent Rich Paul's long-time relationship with another star client, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, since the Lakers have been considered the league's most ardent suitor for Davis for months.

Last year, James said that it would be "amazing" if he could play with Davis. But the NBA later cleared the star forward of tampering.

Davis also faces possible league discipline because the NBA typically fines players when they, or their representatives, publicly request a trade.

"We commenced an investigation this morning upon reading the reports regarding Anthony Davis," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said on Monday. "That process is ongoing."

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans on the bench in the game against the Detroit Pistons last Wednesday. He has been out with a sprained left index finger but is set to return this week.
Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans on the bench in the game against the Detroit Pistons last Wednesday. He has been out with a sprained left index finger but is set to return this week. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE






The 25-year-old Davis, the top pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, shares second spot with 29.3 points a game and is third in the league with 13.3 rebounds per contest.

He also has 4.4 assists, 2.6 blocked shots and 1.7 steals a game this season for New Orleans.

Sidelined by a sprained left index finger since Jan 19 but expected to return to action this week, Davis could become a free agent in 2020 and sign a five-year contract extension worth US$240 million (S$326.4 million) after this season.

The New York Times reported that Paul has not given the Pelicans any preference as to which team Davis wants to join.

Paul said the decision was made "to let them know by the deadline so they could do what's best for the organisation going forward".

Besides the Lakers, another team expected to be interested in Davis are the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics, however, are ineligible to acquire Davis via trade while the All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is on their roster. League rules preclude one team from having two players on the designated rookie scale contract extensions possessed by both Davis and Irving.

At 22-28 with seven losses in their past eight games, the Pelicans are 13th of 15 clubs in the Western Conference, six wins behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final play-off berth.

The Pelicans have missed the play-offs in four of six seasons since drafting Davis, but swept Portland in the first round of last season's play-offs for their first post-season series triumph since 2008.

New Orleans fell in the second round to eventual champions the Golden State Warriors.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Pelicans stand firm on Davis'. Subscribe