In the wake of biggest star Anthony Davis’ public — and, therefore, violative — request to be traded to a contender, the Pelicans have hung tough. Outwardly, they’re bent on going through business as usual, never mind that the decision of their franchise player to move on compels them to do so as well, albeit against their wishes. Nonetheless, it bears noting that they’re determined to get past the development on their own terms. Despite the peculiar timing of the pronouncement, they’ll be proceeding at a pace that best serves their interests.
Significantly, the Pelicans have seen fit to take an aggressive stance in reaction to Davis’ statement. Their very first press release included an appeal to the National Basketball Association to investigate the possibility of tampering having been committed in the run-up to the turn of events. The league office did wind up fining him for agent Rich Paul’s candid disclosures, but, in all likelihood, not to the extent that the franchise wished. In any case, it has sent a clear signal that it will not be a passive participant in the process.
Indeed, the Pelicans have become proactive if nothing else. Franchise owner Gayle Benson met with them team prior to yesterday’s homestand against the Nuggets, as much to give players props for upending the highly touted Rockets on the road the day before as to indicate her intent to be visible during and throughout the transition. And even as Davis may well remain part of the roster after next week’s trade deadline, they’re acting on the impression that he’s already gone. Yesterday’s pregame hype video ended with an image of stalwarts of the blue and gold that conspicuously did not include him.
In the aftermath, Davis appeared unmoved by the slight. He was at the end of the bench until the final buzzer, cheering for the Pelicans and engaging with them during huddles. Still, it couldn’t have escaped him, and, from his vantage point, it stood as validation of his decision. Whether it means he will be in another uniform in a week and a half remains to be seen. If not, though, awkward moments between him and the front office should be expected. One foot may be out the door, but the other is still inside — not the ideal position to be in for him and for the keepers of the house that he used to herald.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.