Over the last week there have been two behind-the-scenes dramas with Anthony Davis happening.

One was his trade demand from the New Orleans Pelicans. The other was what would happen in the event the Pelicans didn’t trade him, which looked more likely by the day. Would New Orleans continue to play Davis or make him a healthy scratch for the rest of the season as they did for several games before the trade deadline?

Two days before the deadline Rich Paul, Davis’ agent, called the league office and expressed concern that the Pelicans wouldn’t play Davis if he wasn’t traded, sources told ESPN. Paul told the league that Davis wanted to play.

Afraid of a possible injury that could affect future trade value and perhaps to improve draft positions, there was a growing expectation the Pelicans might put Davis on ice for the last 27 games of the season.

The Pelicans, as they dealt with Davis situation and other matters around the trade deadline (they made two other deals), had put the final decision off. At the time there were some voices within the organization supporting the option to not play him, sources said.

After reviewing the rules and some consideration, the league office informed the Pelicans that they would be expected to play Davis starting with Friday’s nationally-televised game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, sources said.

The league referred the Pelicans to rules put in place in 2017 that restrict teams from resting healthy players. The Pelicans, league sources said, were told they would be subject to a fine of $100,000 per game if Davis was benched.

Davis himself was fined $50,000 last week for breaking league rules when Paul publicly made a trade demand, the largest fine permitted.

After the trade deadline passed with Davis remaining on the team, the Pelicans requested a meeting with Davis to discuss the rest of the season. In that meeting Davis told the Pelicans he wanted to return to the floor – he’d recently missed three weeks with a finger injury — and play in as many games as possible.

The Pelicans knew they would likely lose in arbitration if they benched Davis. But there was an option of drastically reducing his playing time. After discussions, the team decided it would act “ethically” and return Davis to his previous role as starter and their centerpiece of the team, sources said. They also wanted to follow league rules.

Though it may cost them draft position — the Pelicans are 20-21 when Davis plays and 4-10 when he doesn’t this season — and risk injury, the team also wanted to respect Davis’ wishes, sources said.

Davis and the team agreed he would not play in back-to-backs — likely starting with Saturday’s game in Memphis — and that his minutes would possibly be reduced. An agreement was reached where Davis will consult with the team on which ends of back-to-backs he will play in the rest of the season, sources said.

Ultimately, the understanding avoided a potential standoff that might’ve dragged into next week’s All-Star Game, in which Davis will be representing the Pelicans.



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