Vultures are circling for Davis

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Considering he’s currently sidelined with a hand injury, we may have seen the last of Anthony Davis in a New Orleans Pelicans uniform.

Agent Rich Paul informed New Orleans’ front office that Davis won’t re-sign when his contract runs out in 2020, even though the team can pay him $240 million, the most any team can offer him when he’s a free agent. The NBA’s largest incentive to keep big fish in small ponds will apparently come up short once again since Davis wants to bolt in time to play for a contender immediately.

Davis has played extremely well and given it his all through multiple nagging injury issues and said all the right things entering the season. 

After finally winning a playoff series last season, it stands to reason he wouldn’t have put the Pels in their current position if it weren’t for their inability to win despite his gaudy per-game averages of 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 blocks. 

Between Dec. 16 and Jan. 26, New Orleans has won just seven of 20 contests, slipping out of playoff contention in the loaded Western Conference.

Davis wants out as soon as possible, but the Pelicans issued a release expressing their disappointment in his decision but emphasizing that “relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline.”

New Orleans also requested that tampering rules be strictly enforced, fearing that Davis’ agent’s relationship with LeBron James is the driving force behind this trade request. Not surprisingly, the Lakers are viewed as one of the few teams that can proceed with assurances that Davis would re-sign long-term.

Because the Celtics are prohibited from taking on Davis with Kyrie Irving still on the roster until July 1 due to a clause in the collective bargaining agreement, teams will bombard the Pelicans with their best offers prior to the Feb. 7 trade deadline, increasing the likelihood that a deal with be struck.

L.A. could offer Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and picks in a package to land Davis’ services. But other teams can also put together their best deals in an effort to rent him through February of 2020 and decide what to do with him then.

Because the five-time All-Star is under contract next season, a team mortgaging their future for him by parting with multiple assets is more viable than if he were a free agent this summer.

Put betting on any NBA futures on pause until Davis’ situation is settled.

As for this week, here are my two suggested plays:

Pelicans at Spurs (Saturday): In the short-term, fading New Orleans remains a game to play since injuries have decimated its frontcourt. Julius Randle will attempt to return from an ankle tweak this week, but forward Nikola Mirotic joins Davis in being out indefinitely, having suffered a calf strain.

Look for all the attrition to catch up to the Pels on their Saturday night visit to San Antonio. Ride the disciplined Spurs to post a lopsided, double-digit victory, covering a number that should reside around 10-11 points. SPURS

Lakers at Warriors (Saturday): While the Lakers entrust Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka to hammer out the latest transaction that lands one of the game’s greats in Purple and Gold, LeBron should be back on the Staples Center floor come Thursday night after what will be a 16-game absence.

His team predictably did poorly without him, but didn’t falter so much that he’ll be returning to a sub-.500 team. Although L.A. is currently out of the Western Conference playoff mix as the week begins, it will welcome James’ return with a spot at an arm’s length.

Look for James to come out of the gate gingerly as he looks to ease his way back from a significant groin strain, which doesn’t bode well for the Lakers’ chances at sizzling Golden State in Saturday’s prime time showcase. 

James’ presence will help the point spread from being as steep as it would be without him, but won’t prevent the Warriors from gaining a little revenge after having their Christmas ruined through a 127-101 loss. Lay the points and ride the champs, who have fit center DeMarcus Cousins into the fold seamlessly over the past week. WARRIORS

Last week: 1-1

Season: 16-14

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About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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