After months of speculation, Pelicans All-NBA forward Anthony Davis officially wants out of New Orleans, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Agent Rich Paul has notified the team that Davis, who is eligible to sign a $240 supermax offer over the summer with New Orleans, has no intention of signing a contract extension and that he has requested a trade.
Here's more from Wojnarowski:
"Anthony wants to be traded to a team that allows him a chance to win consistently and compete for a championship," Paul told ESPN. "Anthony wanted to be honest and clear with his intentions and that's the reason for informing them of this decision now. That's in the best interests of both Anthony's and the organization's future."
Later on Monday, the Pelicans released a statement about the situation:
"This past weekend, Anthony Davis' representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade. Although we are disappointed in this decision, our organization's top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans and build our team for long-term success.
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 organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction."
The trade deadline is Feb. 7, and the Pelicans have not expressed any interest in trading him midseason, but instead on "our timeline." Davis is eligible to become a free agent in the summer of 2020.
After the Pelicans made the playoffs and swept the Trail Blazers last season, it appeared that they might have the means to entice Davis to stay with a supermax extension offer. However, the Pelicans sit 13th in the Western Conference at 22-28 and earlier in the season Davis bemoaned that he has to " " for them to have a chance to win.
The Pelicans are 2-7 in games in which Davis hasn't played, and they're 20-21 with him. Although Davis said mere days ago via Shams Charania that he wasn't at the breaking point to request a trade just yet, instead opting to examine career in the offseason, he hasn't played in the last four games. The Pelicans have dropped three straight.
Although the Lakers are 26-24, ninth in the Western Conference, they're the team generating the most talk around a Davis trade. They have a bevy of young assets that they are reportedly willing to part with to acquire a superstar, and LeBron James. Although the Western Conference is as loaded as ever -- making this far from the path of least resistance -- ever since Davis signed with Paul (James' agent), the Lakers have been cited as a potential destination.
If the Pelicans want to bid their time, they can wait until the offseason when the Celtics can trade for Davis. The Celtics have young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, although Brown has been inconsistent this season. The Celtics, however, can't trade for Davis until July 1, as they traded for Irving as a designated player. NBA teams can only have one designated player on their roster who they traded for at a time.
Davis himself is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and his PER is 31 this year -- all above his career averages. Davis has been with the Pelicans since he was drafted No. 1 overall in 2012. Since then, the team's best finish came last year when they lost in five games to the Warriors in the second series of the postseason.
According to The New York Times' Marc Stein, Davis doesn't have a preferred destination at the moment. However, as Stein notes, with Davis' contract expiring in 2020 he'll have input on where he goes. The team that trades for him must at least believe that they can re-sign with them at the end of this contract, otherwise he may not be worth the king's ransom the Pelicans will command.
Anthony Davis' agent Rich Paul tells @NYTSports he has NOT given the Pelicans a preferred trade destination for Davis. But Davis' July 2020 free agency obviously gives hm huge say in where he lands since no team will surrender meaningful assets for a player it can't re-sign— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 28, 2019
According to Stein, Paul said that the Pelicans "haven't said much, but we wanted to do the right thing to let them know by the deadline so they could do what's best for the organization going forward."
The worst-case scenario for the team trading for Davis would be about a year and a half of the superstar. That means that a team in the playoff picture this year and in good shape for next year would be the most likely to want him, even if there is uncertainty about whether or not he would re-sign. The Pelicans have about a week and a half to make a move, unless they opt to wait for the offseason.
Per Wojnarowski, it's expected that nearly every team in the NBA will try to make a move for Davis. The Celtics could even agree to a deal in principle, but it couldn't be completed until July 1. The Lakers and Celtics will likely engage in the most fierce battle for Davis. The 25-year-old Davis is still missing time for a fracture in his finger -- he's expected to miss another week or two -- but teams looking to make a run this year will assume the risk.