Anthony Davis played basketball for the New Orleans Pelicans on Valentine’s Day, but there was certainly a lack of love in the building as the Pels took on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.
The franchise player who requested a trade shortly before the NBA’s trade deadline earlier in the month hasn’t had a very smooth go of things in New Orleans since then. The Pelicans weren’t able to get a trade offer they liked before the deadline, then the back-and-forth about whether to play the injured Davis was another wrinkle in the dealings. It’s led to things like booing Davis at home games and other ways disgruntled Pelicans fans are expressing their frustrations.
Anthony Davis is playing for the Pelicans now, but it hasn’t been his usual workload. And things are still extremely weird. Davis literally left the arena at the half on Thursday, for example, apparently after suffering a shoulder injury in the first half.
Russell Westbrook had another huge game for the Thunder, but the Pelicans were able to pull off the 131-122 win, mostly without Davis. After the game, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry tried hard not to talk about Davis, stressing that he wanted to get questions about “the guys who played the game.”
But pressed about the issue and how it’s been handled by the Pelicans and Davis, and the head coach couldn’t hold back.
“To tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire,” Gentry said. “It’s hard for guys to go through what they’ve been through. And to be able to come out and beat a team of that quality, I’m happy for all of the guys. I thought they did a great job.”
Gentry is right: Davis’ final few months in New Orleans will absolutely go down as a disaster for all sides involved. New Orleans will likely fail to get good value for its franchise player, Davis has certainly turned a good number of fans against him, and the Pelicans pleading for the NBA to uphold tampering rules is a desperate attempt to make the best out of a situation where no one is happy and everyone looks bad. “Dumpster fire” is a more colorful phrase than “public relations disaster” but it certainly evokes the right mental image.
All of this will, however, get cleaned up once the season ends and Davis goes elsewhere through a trade the Pelicans will almost certainly make. But the waiting for that trade will take time and include a lot of games fans, Davis, and maybe many in the Pelicans front office care much about. The problem is Gentry and the players that aren’t Anthony Davis still care about those games. Because, right now, what happens in those is about all they can control right now.