16 Feb 19
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – If, as reported often before the trade deadline, Anthony Davis had a list of preferred destinations that didn’t include Boston, the Pelicans center doesn’t look at the Celtics that way now.
Maybe it’s the very real possibility that Danny Ainge puts together the best trade package for Davis on July 1, and he’ll have to adapt to that new environment, whether he likes it or not before hitting free agency in 2020. And maybe, as Davis indicated during Saturday’s All-Star weekend media scrum, the list was a matter between agent Rich Paul and New Orleans management.
When asked whether he had changed his mind about the Celtics, Davis adamantly denied he ever was against playing in Boston.
“I never said Boston wasn’t on my list,” he said.
Asked by the Herald if this meant the Celtics were actually on his list, Davis repeated himself, saying, “I never said they weren’t on my list.”
This doesn’t mean Davis has developed a particular affection for changing into a green uniform. It’s clear that once he hits free agency, the league will be his playing field, though according to multiple reports, his original wish list included the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks and Knicks.
“All 29 teams are on my list. I want to win. Whatever team I get traded to, I’ll make the best of it, and then when free agency comes, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “I can’t tell the future, but all 29 teams are on the list. I never gave a destination. Anthony Davis has never given a destination for where he wants to play.”
The 30th, of course, is the New Orleans team he no longer wants any part of, after seven frustrating seasons of Pelicans management’s inability to build around the best big man in the NBA. There’s nothing new here. New Orleans was unable to build around Chris Paul, too.
If winning and a shot at a championship is Davis’ only standard, then Danny Ainge has as great a sales pitch to make as anyone, if the Celtics president can bring back Kyrie Irving, and especially if he doesn’t have to include Jayson Tatum in the New Orleans package.
But more than anything, Davis put the rest of the league on alert that every team has his attention.
He complimented the Knicks, and the possibility of playing in Madison Square Garden. He noted, without provocation, that Milwaukee was on his list, thus confirming that there was indeed a list.
“Whatever list that came out, that’s between my agent and the Pelicans, it’s true,” he said somewhat cryptically.
“Big market, small market, doesn’t matter. I just want to win in my career, wherever that may be,” he said. “At that time in free agency I’ll have a time to go out there and see, but it’s about the best situation for me, the best fit for me.”
Davis also acknowledged, despite the efforts of his agent to facilitate a trade between the Pelicans and Lakers, that he does not control where he lands this summer.
“I’m going to go play for that team,” he said. “I have no control over that. Right now I play basketball wherever I am. I’ll be a free agent in 2020.”
Davis has also taken a hit on the public relations front, first because of Rich Paul’s public attempt to force a trade to the Lakers, and then, once the deadline passed, because he had to continue playing in New Orleans.
When he injured his left shoulder during a game Wednesday night, Davis and Paul left the arena early to get an independent MRI taken without telling general manager Dell Demps or head coach Alvin Gentry.
Demps was subsequently fired, though his fate was sealed before Davis ever left the building. But despite Davis’ trade demand, he professes to still have affection for New Orleans.
“When you’re with someone for seven years, you have a love for the city and the fans,” he said. “That’s my home. I have a couple of homes in New Orleans. Always had love for the city of New Orleans, and when that time comes I’ll have a heart-warm message for them, and put it out on Instagram like everyone else did.
“I didn’t know anything about it, but the Pelicans will do what’s best for them,” Davis added of Demps’ firing. “My intentions are still the same. The Pelicans made a move best for their organization.”
Asked if the circumstances surrounding his trade demand have been stressful, Davis shook his head. He wants to continue playing – a guaranteed situation since the NBA has warned Pelicans management not to shut its invaluable trade asset down for the rest of the season.
“I don’t think it was awkward. I’ve been there for a long time,” Davis said. “We wanted to get something done, it didn’t happen, and the object was to play basketball, playing with my teammates.
“It wasn’t stressful at all for me. I had a plan, did what I was supposed to do,” he said of the trade demand. “Obviously I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t happen, just from the fact that the Pelicans would have to make a decision. It didn’t happen, I’m still here, and I’m playing basketball until the end of the season.”
Davis also said that contrary to a multitude of reports, he never discussed playing for the Lakers with Paul’s other celebrity client, LeBron James. Instead, to hear Davis tell it, there’s only one kind of conversation he’ll have with James – his team captain – this weekend.
“I’ll talk about how I’m going to play with him on Sunday,” he said.