Anthony Davis didn’t expect his campers to turn into reporters.
Instead, the New Orleans Pelicans’ All-NBA forward was forced to field the tough questions with a whistle around his neck. Davis said he was taken off guard when kids between the ages of 7 to 15 started grilling him about his NBA future from the floor of UNO’s Lakefront Arena, during the first official Anthony Davis Camp.
Speaking informally, Davis said he received several inquiries about the media-generated rumors swirling around a potential trade to the Boston Celtics.
“Y’all hear that stuff?” Davis replied to campers, several of whom travelled from across the country to take in the two-day instructional practice.
Indeed, they do.
And those campers aren’t the only ones curious about Davis’ movements, or if he has any wishes to leave the franchise, despite being under contract with New Orleans for three more guaranteed seasons (not including a player option for a fourth year).
“I am happy here as a Pelican,” Davis said. “I am happy here.”
But, even he admitted to being curious by the trade chatter surrounding his name.
“I understand it’s a business, but if I don’t hear anything from (general manager) Dell (Demps) or my agent, then I don’t pay attention to it,” Davis said. “I haven’t heard anything. When I first heard it and heard it again and heard it again, then you make sure. I found out it wasn’t. That was the beginning of the summer, and I haven’t paid attention to it since.”
Instead, Davis said he’s focused on the upcoming season.
The Pelicans open training camp in late September, facing obvious urgency. After consecutive losing seasons, New Orleans re-tooled over the past six months, adding All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins as well as guard Rajon Rondo (who are on the final year of their contracts), and re-investing in a lucrative five-year deal with guard Jrue Holiday.
It’s a core the Pelicans believe is good enough to turn them into contenders, especially as Davis’ stardom continues to rise. Davis didn’t shy away from admitting the Pelicans have playoff expectations and aspirations.
“That’s what we are expecting,” Davis said. “Is it enough? We don’t know until the season is over, but we definitely believe we have enough pieces on paper to make the playoffs. And, not just make it, but actually make a run in the playoffs. So, that’s what we are expecting.
“Everybody is excited and everybody is prepared, and we know it all starts in training camp.”
In the meantime, Davis has honed his game by spending part of his offseason working with Cousins. The pair is trying to accelerate the chemistry process, each learning where the other likes to receive the ball and how they move in and out of the post.
It’s the first time he’s worked alongside another big man during his summer training sessions, claiming he usually prefers to work alone, “kind of like Superman”. However, he said the past few months have taught him some lessons entering this year.
“I really believe (Cousins) thinks he’s a point guard,” Davis said while smiling. “Everything he wants to do is, ‘Can we start out on the floor and then get into it.’ I wasn’t like that as much as him. But I love working out with him and he brings so much to our team.”
In seriousness, Davis said he’s fully aware of how much he needs Cousins and how much the Pelicans are relying on the combination of All-Star big men to reach the postseason for the first time since 2015.
“We all want to win and we are tired of losing and I think we are doing the right things to try to make sure that our chances are very high,” Davis said. “Like I said, we look good on paper. But, the entire organization from the players to the front office, we all want to win.
“We think the time is now. So, we are treating it like this is the season. If it’s not, then we go from there, but as of right now, this is our most important season.”