The depressing Anthony Davis situation in New Orleans brushed right up against disaster Thursday night, when Davis sustained a shoulder injury at the very end of the first half of an eventual Pelicans win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. A significant Davis injury, sustained while playing meaningless minutes for a stepchild basketball operation that continues to employ him today basically out of spite, is the absolute worst case scenario, for everyone involved.
Highlighting just how perfunctory and stupid these appearances are, Davis and agent Rich Paul dipped right the hell out of the arena once Davis was ruled out for the rest of the game:
It turned out the Pelicans didn’t much miss him. Jrue Holiday was once again sensational, putting up 32 points while also hounding MVP candidate Paul George at the other end, one of the toughest assignments in the NBA these days. George finished with 29 points, but needed 28 shots to get there, and missed 14 of 17 attempts from three-point range. Understandably, that’s what head coach Alvin Gentry wanted to talk about after the game. When reporters moved the conversation to how Gentry felt about Davis leaving the arena prematurely, things wrapped up in a sudden huff:
There’s no longer any great option for New Orleans and Davis. That ship sailed when the Pelicans decided to spend the pre-deadline period basically trolling the Lakers instead of replying in good faith to what could still very well wind up being the best trade offer out there. The smart thing to do now would be to eat whatever cost in fines and hold Davis out of action the rest of the season, but that would also be anti-competitive as shit for a team still not technically eliminated from the playoffs, and it would mean scratching one of the league’s genuine superstars in order to preserve his trade value for an offseason deal. The NBA obviously hates that idea, even if reports of millions of bucks in penalties were shot down by the league office. But Davis’s unmistakable and understandable apathy about the rest of this season puts to bed the idea that playing him will be especially positive for the league’s actual basketball product. The Pelicans are a bad team without him, but at least they aren’t pretending. There is absolutely no joy left to be had from watching Davis play out this string.
Hopefully, the shoulder injury will give all parties the excuse they need to put Davis back on the shelf and end this ridiculous charade. With the combined luck of Davis and this organization, next time he takes the floor in a Pelicans jersey his entire skeleton will liquify, and then everyone involved will wish like hell they’d taken tonight’s opportunity to tell him not to come back.