The Anthony Davis Saga has its latest and perhaps its most inevitable chapter.
The megastar New Orleans Pelicans center left Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a shoulder injury. The Brow’s shoulder has just a muscle contusion, which isn’t serious. But it’s a reminder that this situation – in which Davis demanded a trade and didn’t get dealt at the deadline last week, and is now playing out the rest of the season for a Pelicans team everyone knows he doesn’t want to be on – is a complete disaster for everyone involved.
But who’s really at fault? We can’t completely put this on one person or entity, so let’s play the blame game and break it down by percentage:
Anthony Davis: 8 percent
It’s hard to blame Davis for wanting out now. The Pelicans (see below) have failed to build the right team around their star. Heck, asking now is even super nice to the front office that’s struggled, giving Dell Demps plenty of time to find a deal and get a good return. If that was true, then it was a case of the road to hell being paved by good intentions.
But it’s certainly not all on Davis. There’s the next guy who deserves a lot more blame.
Davis’s agent Rich Paul: 40 percent
Leaking the trade demand and the list of teams where Davis would sign an extension was likely a play to get a deal done with the Lakers before the deadline and before a team like the Boston Celtics could get involved.
Making the whole process public, in hindsight, completely backfired. If it was more private, perhaps the Lakers and Pelicans could have made a deal without everyone refreshing Twitter to find out how negotiations were going.
The trade deadline passed without a deal, and now Paul’s client is in limbo. The Pels wouldn’t want to play him to prevent him being injured and save his trade value, and Davis sitting would help their draft lottery chances.
Charles Barkley agrees this one’s on Paul:
The Pelicans: 22 percent
There are two ways this could have been avoided:
1. Trade Davis to the Lakers
The franchise should have known sending The Brow home for the rest of the season if he wasn’t dealt would be frowned upon by the NBA. Holding out for a better trade than what the Lakers were offering ran the risk of where we’re at on Friday happening. New Orleans could still get a better deal this summer, but now they have to worry about Davis getting hurt again.
2. Be better at basketball
This is the culmination of some terrible front office maneuvering over the years to surround Davis with the kind of team that could compete.
The NBA: 20 percent
This is why the league fined Davis for a public trade demand and why the NBA forced the Pelicans to play the forward (and there were possibilities the league could have fined the franchise a ton): It’s a bad look for everyone if a healthy player sits.
But this kind of situation doesn’t have specific rules attached to it, just the threat of $100,000 fines. As Jeff Van Gundy argued, NBA franchises should be allowed to do what’s best for them. So the league deserves a handful of the blame.
The Lakers: 10 percent
Yes, they reportedly offered nearly everything including one of Kobe Bryant’s retired numbers in exchange for Davis and were turned down. But they got wrapped up in this mess by publicly courting someone to pair with LeBron James.
Now they face not getting The Brow at all, a lose-lose of epic proportions.