The NBA reportedly told the New Orleans Pelicans that they wouldn’t be allowed to keep Anthony Davis stashed on the bench the rest of the year, and that they would have to play the superstar at least 25 minutes a night.
In his first game back since the trade deadline passed, the Pelicans did that — exactly 25 minutes, no more.
Davis has caused a stir and drew a fine from the NBA by publicly demanding a trade out of New Orleans and dictating a list of teams he would like to go to, causing some major tension with the Pelicans front office and reportedly prompting the team to consider shutting him down for the year to conserve trade value. That led the NBA to speak to the Pelicans, bringing up the possibility of a $100,000 fine and leading the team to come to an agreement with Davis about playing time, ESPN reported.
“Davis and the team agreed that he would not play in back-to-backs — likely starting with Saturday’s game in Memphis after he had 32 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes in Friday’s 122-117 win — and that his minutes would possibly be reduced,” the report noted. “An agreement was reached that Davis will consult with the team on which ends of back-to-backs he will play in the rest of the season, sources said.”
Davis had not played for more than two weeks as he recovered from a strained left index finger, but went back into the lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Davis played his normal rotation through the first half, but then went to the bench in the third quarter and never returned to the court.
As Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said after the game, Davis had reached his minutes threshold in the third quarter and wasn’t coming back in.
“We had talked about playing between 22 and 25 minutes,” Gentry said (via Bleacher Report). “That’s why he didn’t go back in the game.”
The Pelicans were able to hold on and win the game, and there was some immediate speculation about whether the team would keep Davis to the strict minutes limit every night. Some thought that the team was sticking it to the NBA by taking Davis out immediately after hitting the agreed-upon minutes threshold, keeping them from being fined.
First game back after nine missed, Anthony Davis got to 25 minutes, then was pulled. People going crazy but it’s one night. If he is held out of 4th Q every night rest of way, esp. close games, that’ll be different.— Steve Aschburner (@AschNBA) February 9, 2019
Despite only playing 25 minutes, Anthony Davis was still able to have a major impact on Friday’s game, scoring 32 points and notching a game-high plus-minus of plus-22.