NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Even with one foot in the door, Anthony Davis shows that he can still produce prolific statistics for the New Orleans pelicans.
He needed only 25 minutes to score 32 points in his first game against New Orleans since he had asked for an exchange almost two weeks ago. Davis also had nine rebounds and three blocks in a 122-117 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
It remains to be seen whether his presence in training is sustainable for a club that is trying to move on – and protects its market value by keeping it healthy -. But for now, coach Alvin Gentry and other Pelicans veterans seem inclined to try to succeed.
"He has obviously made it known that he would not sign, but he still loves basketball, I know he loves us as players and he's going to play out as hard as he can." possible, "said Pelicans. the guard Jrue Holiday said. "If Anthony is there, it's the best chance of winning."
The Pelicans played their game in Memphis on Saturday night at 25-31, five games for the Los Angeles Clippers for last place in the Western Conference playoffs with 26 games to play.
When Davis initially made his request for an exchange through his agent, Rich Paul, Davis 'image was largely removed from Pelicans' website and promotional material. Gentry has also begun to offer more play time to young players than the club wants to develop.
But after the trading deadline Thursday was passed without an agreement to move Davis, the Pelicans had to decide if they were ready to defy the NBA rules by putting aside their property. Ally All-Star six times. For now, they have reinstated him in the starting lineup, even though his playing time has been reduced, as he returned from a sprain on the left index finger that had kept him away since January 18th.
Friday night, Davis was kept on the bench in a tight fourth quarter despite the fact that the teams were separated by a single basket several times in the last few minutes.
Gentry said that he had limited Davis' minutes because it had been weeks since he had not played.
"I was not going to have it – first game back – played 38, 40 minutes," Gentry said. "I thought he had played well the minutes that he had spent there and did a great job. He was typical of Anthony."
Gentry hopes to find a balance that allows Davis to play – and stay healthy – while allowing other players on the scene, such as new Jahlil Okafor and third year pro Cheick Diallo, to get significant minutes.
"We've talked a lot about it – in one way or another, we have to keep these guys in the rotation and keep them available," said Gentry. "Obviously, they may not play the number of minutes they played … but I think we need to keep them in the rotation and put them in situations where we can see how their development is going and see how they are against the best players in the league and play with our best players. "
Pelicans have made Holiday the face of the franchise since Davis' commercial demand. The veteran guard, who is in the second year of a five-year contract for $ 126 million, said he understands the inherent conflict between focusing on players engaged in the long-term franchise and playing against Davis. But he added, "I think we're still trying to win, having Anthony on our team and Anthony on the field, in my opinion, is our best chance to win.
"So I guess there may be a bit of mutual concessions," Holiday continued. "Maybe you do not play him 38 minutes or anything else … But if you want to develop guys, we can probably find different slot machines."
Gentry said he was not worried that his players would be distracted in home games by madmen against Davis.
"We have a lot of problems if we let cravings determine whether we play hard or not," said Gentry.
The coach also seemed confident that the team's chemistry would not be compromised.
"When you are a competitor, when you pass between the lines, you will play basketball and you will try to do your best with your other teammates to try to win the basketball game," said Gentry. I said. "I think it's where we are right now." The shock of all this is over, he obviously said he did not want to be here, he wanted to be traded in. All of this is known. , what we are trying to do is bring back some normalcy to the whole situation and what can we do as coaches and what can we do as teammates to try to win basketball games? "
Davis said that he had no regrets about how he had handled the issue.
"I never regret anything I do," he said.
He also said that he would have understood if the Pelicans insisted not to play it.
"Obviously, it's a business," Davis said. "I know their point of view on that and I was prepared for that."
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