Things are strange in New Orleans, to the point where Alvin Gentry recently called the situation surrounding Anthony Davis a “dumpster fire.” However, the Pelicans have to navigate the remainder of the regular season with Davis on the roster and the team, with prompting from the league office, is electing to deploy their best player despite the odd circumstances.
With that in mind, the Pelicans don’t have much to play for in the standings and interim general manager Danny Ferry addressed the media on Thursday evening with a clear, future-facing message.
Ferry also noted specifically that “league rules made it clear” that Davis has to play as long as he is in New Orleans.
The end result will be a “reduction” in the minutes of Davis and fellow standout Jrue Holiday.
As Ferry indicates, the change in Holiday’s deployment comes as a result of extended playing time this season. The veteran guard entered the All-Star break playing 36.3 minutes per game, which ranked No. 3 in the entire league, trailing only James Harden and Bradley Beal.
The choice to take Davis off the floor more often is clearly designed to prioritize the future, though, and that means the Pelicans could lean on young players that are under contract beyond 2018-19. Davis is, of course, under contract for the 2019-20 season but absolutely no one believes he will be in New Orleans when training camp opens in September, meaning the Pelicans have little incentive to take away playing time for other players they’d like to evaluate.
At the end of the day, everyone knows Davis is the best player on the Pelicans roster and he will help them when he’s on the floor. With that said, New Orleans doesn’t have much incentive to attempt to win with lottery odds in the balance and, even without that, there are plenty of reasons why the Pelicans wouldn’t be overjoyed to send Davis out there for 30-plus minutes every night.