Anthony Davis trade rumors won’t subside, even with the New Orleans Pelicans showing no real interest in dealing their All-Star center. General managers around the NBA keep checking in with the front office of the Pelicans to see if the team is ready to deal him. The on-court struggles of the franchise make those inquiries seem very logical, as many NBA teams in the same position would be looking to rebuild for the future. But would it really help the Pelicans to deal Davis for any potential package of players the trade market could provide?
A new report for Yahoo! Sports by NBA analyst Michael Lee points out that the New Orleans Pelicans have not found the anticipated success that was expected to follow the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Even with two of the best big man in the entire league on the roster, the Pelicans aren’t considered a true contender in the Western Conference. It’s a situation where the team could really use a third star on the roster to make a real run in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. The problem is that they just don’t have the assets to add a significant short-term piece.
Another problem for the Pelicans is that DeMarcus Cousins becomes an unrestricted free agent during the upcoming NBA offseason, meaning he could leave the team scrambling to replace him on the roster. It raises the possibility of a Cousins trade before the NBA trade deadline in February, especially if the Pelicans are still struggling in the Western Conference standings. If the team does deal Cousins, a forced Anthony Davis trade might not be far behind, because how long will Davis put up with losing by the franchise?
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) December 20, 2017
In 26 games for the Pelicans this season, Davis is averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game. He is also shooting 56.7 percent from the field, which would be his best mark in six NBA seasons. Davis also has a contract in place with two more guaranteed seasons and then a player option of about $28.8 million for the 2020-21 NBA season. It means he comes with a lot of team control, which is why teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Cleveland Cavaliers have inquired about his availability.
In the updated NBA standings, the New Orleans Pelicans have a 15-16 record that puts them as the No. 8 seed in the West. The Utah Jazz (14-17) seem like the only team that could take that spot away from them, so it appears very likely that this roster could make the postseason. Would a No. 8 seed and a first-round series against the Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors be good enough for the Pelicans? The team is also only a game-and-a-half behind the No. 5 seeded Portland Trail Blazers, so the opportunity to move up is present.
The front office of the Pelicans may need to try to acquire additional talent, even if there is a chance DeMarcus Cousins could walk away in free agency. Giving its star player the chance to participate in the postseason may alleviate the Anthony Davis trade demands that could follow if the team slipped to No. 9 in the West. The backlash from fans would also be very intense if the franchise headed into another rebuilding period and wasted the talent that Davis brings to the court every night.