…because if that’s not the size of what happened last night, when Davis suffered what appeared to be a shoulder injury – he’s always suffering injuries now – just before halftime of a game the Pelicans managed to win over Oklahoma City, and then just picked up and left the Smoothie King Arena. The spectacle was such that it even reached the notice of the Washington Post…
The forced cohabitation between Anthony Davis and the Pelicans entered a new stage of awkwardness on Thursday night when the six-time all-star, who very publicly wants out of New Orleans, injured his left shoulder with one second remaining in the first half against the Thunder. Davis did not stick around to watch his teammates score their 131-122 upset, leaving Smoothie King Center with agent Rich Paul at halftime to get an MRI exam:
Anthony Davis leaving the SKC with Rich Paul pic.twitter.com/lUhFTfWETb
— Sharief Ishaq (@ShariefWDSU) February 15, 2019
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the injury is just a contusion — it’s “nothing too bad,” a source tells her — and Davis could still play in Sunday’s All-Star Game after receiving treatment for the injury in Charlotte, site of this year’s game. But it’s yet another illustration of just how messed-up the situation is in New Orleans, home to a star player who wants out and a team that either couldn’t or simply didn’t trade him at the deadline. An injury to Davis is the last thing either wants to see right now.
Davis playing in the all-star game after he quits on his team with a bruise on his shoulder and won’t even stay to support them in a game they ended up winning, well…let’s just say those optics won’t be too great.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was less than complimentary of the situation after the game…
Alvin Gentry has had enough on questions about Anthony Davis. pic.twitter.com/o1QfoJjyQv
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 15, 2019
You get the impression that Gentry would be happiest to be rid of Davis, but since the only offers even remotely worth considering the Pelicans received for him were from the Los Angeles Lakers – who offered half of their lousy team for Davis, as though five or six scrubs for one of the top five players in basketball isn’t an insult – the opportunity to unload him before the end of the season, when a full-on auction for Davis can be had, has passed.
That “injury” to his shoulder might end up being the best thing that could happen, as it would remove Davis from what’s clearly a poisonous situation. It’s pretty clear the Pelicans are in the mode of dismantling the current team and setting themselves up to completely retool – something that will surely have to start in the front office, because two playoff appearances in seven years with Davis as the team’s anchor is a level of performance by general manager Dell Demps which simply can’t be defended and Demps has to go before the Davis trade is made – but in the meantime the rest of this season ought to be something of an evaluation period for the rest of the roster to see if any of the understudies can be pieces in a rebuild.
Along those lines, Julius Randle (33) and Jrue Holiday (32) combined for 65 points last night, strengthening the case for the Pelicans to hang on to both as building blocks for the future. Kenrich Williams and Jalil Okafor also played well.
When the new team management comes in, though, the Pelicans are going to be rebuilt largely off what comes out of what they can get for Davis in the offseason. That’s when a team like the Boston Celtics, who can package a player like Jayson Tatum with as many as four first round picks into a deal with Davis, begins to enter the picture. Boston couldn’t deal for Davis this year due to contract considerations involving Kyrie Irving, but that isn’t a problem this summer.
What’s a little scary about last night, though, is the presence of Davis’ agent Rich Paul with the star player as he left the building. Paul’s presence seems to have been the deciding factor in turning the situation poisonous, and it’s been apparent to most observers that the Lakers, for whom Paul’s main client LeBron James plays, have been expecting to cash in on the troubles in New Orleans. It’s too bad that’s a team full of malcontents and weak players outside of James and therefore have nothing to offer.
One could argue that might well be true of Rich Paul, seeing what he’s done in turning Davis from one of the league’s brightest young stars to what looks like a poisonous factor in an NBA locker room.