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For Pelicans, keeping Anthony Davis raises tricky questions

By BRETT MARTEL - Associated Press - Thursday, February 7, 2019

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Now comes the tricky part for Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans.

The decision to keep the disgruntled All-Star beyond Thursday’s trade deadline raises a variety of questions about whether to play Davis or not.

Davis has stated publicly that while he’s ready to move on from New Orleans , he also is prepared to play for the Pelicans as long as he remains under contract with them.

The Pelicans appear inclined to move on without Davis and focus on the players who might help them going forward. Davis ‘ image has been removed from promotional materials, the club’s official website and even a team hype video that plays before home games on the Smoothie King Center’s expansive scoreboard screens hanging above the court.

Here are some of the pros and cons the Pelicans could consider:

SITTING DAVIS

- It would be in the Pelicans’ interest to avoid any risk of a basketball-related injury to Davis , given the likelihood of re-engaging a number of teams in trade talks after the season.

-The market for Davis becomes clearer after the NBA draft lottery, when all teams’ 2019 picks have more concrete trade value.

- In addition, the market for Davis should improve when the Boston Celtics’ are able to strengthen trade offers they make this summer.

Boston, which has a stockpile of draft picks and promising young players as trade bait, is not eligible to trade for Davis under NBA rules until July 1, unless the Celtics also trade away Kyrie Irving. Irving is a factor because of what’s known as the Rose Rule, which says NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension. Irving currently is playing under an extension signed with Cleveland that has an option year after this season, meaning it could be renegotiated in a way that also allows Boston to bid for Davis .

- However benching a healthy player could potentially infringe on NBA rules designed to protect the investments of ticket holders and broadcast partners alike against the prospects of star players being arbitrarily rested.

Those rules, for example, prohibit clubs from “resting healthy players for any high-profile, nationally televised game.” Doing so, the rules state, “will constitute conduct prejudicial or detrimental to the NBA and result in a fine of at least $100,000.”

The Pelicans play next on Friday night at home against Minnesota, and the game is slated for national television.

- There is a gray area, however, because the rules provide for exceptions in “unusual circumstances.”

So the NBA could have to decide whether Davis ‘ public trade request through his agent, Rich Paul, constitutes an unusual circumstance in this case, even though Davis has stated he wants to keep playing for the Pelicans if he’s not traded. Public trade requests are also banned by NBA rules, and Davis was fined $50,000.

The NBA Players Association also could get involved on Davis ‘ behalf if he is benched against his wishes.

The union did not return messages left by The Associated Press on Thursday. Klutch Sports, the agency run by Rich Paul that represents Davis , also declined comment.

PLAYING DAVIS

- If the Pelicans want to put the best product on the court for fans in the stands and have the best chance to win, playing their six-time All-Star should help. They entered Thursday night’s action six games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 27 games left.

- Playing Davis reduces the odds of a fight between the Pelicans and the union or discipline from the NBA .

- Davis appears healthy. Before New Orleans defeated the Bulls in Chicago on Wednesday night, he was not on the club’s injury report, meaning he was technically available to play after recovering from a Jan. 18 sprain of his left index finger that had sidelined him the previous eight games. He was not listed on the Pelicans’ injury report released on Thursday afternoon in advance of the game against the Timberwolves.

- Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry has said the club had decided not to play Davis before Thursday’s trading deadline. However, he offered no indication of what the club would do if Davis remained in New Orleans for the rest of the season.

When added all up, it would seem the pros to sitting Davis would outweigh playing him. However, as of Thursday evening, the Pelicans had yet to say how they intend handle Davis for the rest of this season.

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