Pelicans seem confused about what to do with Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The general consensus seemed to be that Anthony Davis would see limited action for the New Orleans Pelicans from here on out. So what happened last night?

With the New Orleans Pelicans unable to secure a suitable trade partner for Anthony Davis before the deadline, there was speculation that the team would opt to shut down their most valuable asset for the remainder of the season. The NBA, however, was not on board with this idea and threatened to fine the Pelicans $100,000 each game they sat him out.

Still, even if the team was forced to allow Anthony Davis to play, at the very least, it seemed reasonable to assume that New Orleans would restrict his minutes until the end of the year in order to protect him from injury and end the season with the best draft pick possible.

In Davis’ first game back from his finger injury Friday night against Minnesota, it seemed as if the minutes restriction was in full effect. The Pelicans limited AD to 25 total minutes and kept him off the floor for the entire fourth quarter despite the game being a close one.

With Saturday’s game against Memphis being night two of a back-to-back, a betting man would have wagered that the Pelicans would hold Davis out of the contest. In general, players fresh off of injuries are often rested in these situations, so surely the NBA would have understood if New Orleans didn’t want him playing in this particular game.

However, Anthony Davis did play last night. And not just in a limited fashion like the game prior, but a lengthy 34 minute effort across all four quarters of action.

To be blunt, playing Davis that long after having a game the night before is baffling. The future of the New Orleans Pelicans’ success largely hinges on the team returning a massive haul of assets when he’s inevitably traded, and his value would surely take a big hit if he were to hypothetically be injured during trade negotiations.

A lot of this falls on Head Coach Alvin Gentry, who has to be responsible for knowing how many minutes Davis is at during a game and adjusting accordingly. Simply put, there’s no need for Davis to ever see 30+ minutes of action as a Pelican again if the goal for the rest of the season is to keep him healthy and receive a good draft pick this summer.

However, it’s unclear whether or not Gentry was pressured at all to play Anthony Davis for a certain amount of time by the Higher-Ups. It’s possible that the Pelicans chose to play Davis last night simply to get the NBA off their backs. Kind of like, “Hey, we’re playing him solid minutes and it’s a back-to-back. Now leave us alone.”

Clearly, that’s all speculation however, but it’s interesting nonetheless. The Pelicans face off next on Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic, so we’ll have to wait and see how much playing time Anthony Davis gets in that one. Their next back-to-back happens later this month when the Pelicans take on the Pacers in Indiana on February 22nd before returning home for a game conveniently against the Los Angeles Lakers on February 23rd.

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It’s even been reported that the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis sat down and came to terms about his minutes being limited going forward and the likelihood of him sitting during back-to-backs. It’s puzzling, then, that neither of these things actually happened last night in Memphis. Was it just to shake the watchful gaze of the NBA, or are the Pelicans just not really sure how to manage Davis going forward?