Could the New Orleans Pelicans win Anthony Davis back over?

Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Tom O'Connor/NBAE via Getty Images)
Anthony Davis New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Tom O'Connor/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Media Day at the 2019 All-Star game was full of surprises as Anthony Davis sat down and discussed his trade demand. Could his responses have opened a door for the New Orleans Pelicans to retain him?

It’s been a whirlwind of a month as we’ve navigated rumors and reports related to the Anthony Davis trade saga. When he originally requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, we all assumed his days in the Big Easy were numbered. But, if you put on your tin foil hats for a minute, Davis’ discussions on TV yesterday at All-Star Weekend 2019 Media Day might have created a universe where New Orleans could hang onto their superstar beyond this season.

While news began to originally break that Anthony Davis wanted to be a Laker, but would also be okay being a Knick, but definitely not a Celtic, but maybe a Clipper or Buck, the world sat and waited to see if any other teams could sneak into Davis’ list of preferred trade destinations. Yesterday, AD broke trade negotiations wide open when he admitted he’d really being okay playing for essentially anyone.

If we’re going with this logic and believe that Anthony Davis truly just wants to win, he clearly believes the New Orleans Pelicans, in their present state, are unable to be as competitive as he’d like them to be. While there are clearly other teams among the other 29 that are in worse shape than the Pelicans, it’s true that this year is already down the tubes as far as competing for anything important.

Still, if Anthony Davis just wants to win, could the Pelicans make some moves that would serve to put Davis’ mind at ease and win him back over to the organization? He spoke yesterday about how he still thinks very highly of the city of New Orleans, so it stands to reason that there’s still hope that a bridge can be rebuilt between AD and the team if his conditions are met.

Hiring a new General Manager that has a history of pairing stars with other stars and winning titles is a start, which is where an option like David Griffin comes into play. Griffin was the General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers that created the title-winning roster including LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and friends. This alone shows that he’s got incredibly valuable experience at finding the right superstars to pair together for success.

The firing of Dell Demps admittedly does currently leave the Pelicans organization in a state of uncertainty for the time being, which could be concerning to Davis. However, if the team is able to bring in a high caliber team-builder like Griffin to the front office, you would think it would be an encouraging development to AD.

So, let’s say the Pelicans do hire David Griffin. What then? If Griffin could sit Anthony Davis down and discuss his future plans with the star, maybe he can convince him to go into one more season with an open mind to see what happens.

The Pelicans have 8 players with expiring contracts this year, 9 if Julius Randle opts out as expected. It’s completely reasonable for the Pelicans to open up cap space to bring in another star to pair with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. While New Orleans isn’t typically a hotbed in free agency, perhaps a newly committed AD and All-Star caliber player in Jrue Holiday is enough to tempt a potential free agent like Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving into seeing what they can accomplish alongside the Pelicans’ core.

New Orleans’ cap situation gets even more attractive in the summer of 2020 when Jrue Holiday is literally the only player still under contract for the Pellies (if AD were to opt out with the intention to re-sign). This would give the organization (and possibly David Griffin) an insane amount of flexibility to get creative and piece together a contender around Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis if AD could be talked into it.

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This is a fine line to walk, and it’s one the New Orleans Pelicans need to traverse with extreme caution. If the team waits too long to trade Davis, they could ultimately be left with nothing. Anthony Davis’ contract becomes less and less attractive to trade suitors the more time passes until he’s moved. Still, if Davis’ recent comments at All-Star Media Day opened a door, it’s at least worth taking a peek at what’s on the other side of it. There could already be too much damage done to repair in his relations with the team and the city, but stranger things have happened.