On July 1, 2019, Anthony Davis would have been -- and technically still is -- eligible to sign a supermax extension with New Orleans worth $240 million over five years, which, of course, is stupid money.
But Davis, who is under contract through 2019-20, has leaked throughout the season that maximum money isn’t his priority, and that winning is.
He backed that up on Friday when his agent, Rich Paul, notified the Pelicans that Davis would not be signing that extension, and wants a trade, news that leaked this morning.
The Pelicans, who looked like a competent, upward-pointing team after winning a playoff round last spring for the first time since 2008, have stumbled to a 22-28 record this season despite a decent roster to fit around Davis.
But the charade appears over, and while this news must pain the Pelicans and their fans, it can’t come as a surprise, and it feels like the final strike for a floating franchise that never gained much traction, or a semblance of a fanbase, in a football-crazy city and state.
Last year, with a 48-win team and a transcendent player, the Pelicans ranked 25th in the league in attendance. Without Davis, it will get ugly, fast. Basketball-hungry Seattleites might want to start vulturing the situation.
As for the Davis sweepstakes, it’s important to remember this is not a free agent situation. The Pelicans do not have to gift wrap him to the Lakers, who only have a small collection of confusing, young players to give away, anyway.
And, while the Celtics seem like the best trade partner, they can’t actually offer a trade for Davis until July 1 because of “The Derrick Rose Rule,” which disallows a team from having two contracts that are extensions of rookie deals that take up 30 percent of the salary cap, with Kyrie Irving being the current one.
The Celtics and Lakers, both for winning purposes and historic intrigue, make the most sense while also making little current sense. But Davis presumably doesn’t want to be sent to another small market team, so this might take longer than he hopes, which might turn into a we’re-staying-together-for-the-kids situation.
[READ: Who’s to blame and what’s next for the Pelicans?]
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