Now that he has to wait until this final third of the NBA season is over before he becomes a Laker or Celtic or something other than a Pelican, Anthony Davis is in the incredibly awkward position of having to play out the rest of the season alongside teammates he publicly dissed, in front of fans who hate him, and for a franchise he made a spectacular and ultimately doomed ploy to ditch.
He is actually going to play, because his agent leaned on the NBA to force the Pelicans to let him see game action despite everything that’s happened. Since Davis is one of the best six or so players in the NBA, he will still occasionally do cool shit while being lustily booed. However, since he’s in basketball purgatory on a dead-end team, he will also occasionally phone it in and pout a whole bunch, as he did against the Magic last night.
Davis managed just three measly points in 24 minutes in a 118-88 home less to the Magic. He shot 1-for-9 from the field and was outplayed by Nikola Vucevic and the rest of he Magic’s front line. Hell, the Pelicans’ defense was so bad that Jonathan Isaac helped himself to a career-high 20 points. Davis clearly did not give a shit last night. His three points were the fewest of his career in any game where he’s played over 21 minutes.
After the game, Davis told reporters, “We sucked. Nobody was interested in playing, is what it looked like.” He’s right, this Pelicans season is over. All that’s at stake now is better lottery odds and, most critically, Davis’s health ahead of an inevitable blockbuster trade this summer. Neither of those two concerns have anything to do with the actual basketball being played on the floor, and with their playoff chances super dead and Davis super checked out, they are going to be miserable to watch for the next two months.
What was once a promising season with a few cool reclamation projects underway is now goddamn purgatory, where a team with one of the best players in the NBA will now have to sandbag themselves in order to lose as much as possible. Sewer lifers like the Cavs and Knicks are fine, since you can ignore them and they were never going to do anything but self-immolate. But these Pelicans have a genuine superstar and he’s just going to pretend to play defense for two more months. What a mess.