Anthony Davis returned to the court Friday night after a three-week absence while recovering from a volar plate avulsion fracture in his left index finger. Of course, the more pressing topic was Davis playing two days after the New Orleans Pelicans refrained from trading him.
His trade demand went public 10 days before this season’s trade deadline, which set off a whirlwind of speculation. The Los Angeles Lakers, Davis’ preferred destination, submitted several proposals in their attempt to pair the six-time All-Star with LeBron James.
Receiving little feedback and not much clarity, the Lakers ultimately walked way from trade talks two days before the deadline and never made contact with the Pelicans after that.
Davis wished to return for the Pelicans’ two games prior to the deadline, but the front office erred on the side of caution due to a possible trade. Reports indicated thought was given to shutting him down for the season before the league intervened and warned fines could be levied.
In his first game since requesting a trade, Davis was booed during pregame introductions and when he touched the ball, though cheered on made baskets, via ESPN:
Anthony Davis booed on his first touch and cheered for his first score in New Orleans. pic.twitter.com/QJwgrWpMZT
— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2019
The 26-year-old touched the surreal environment after helping the Pelicans win a second consecutive game, per ESPN’s Michael C. Wright:
“That was definitely awkward,” Davis said. “Boo? OK. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to go out there and play basketball. I was [surprised]. But hey, that’s life, man. Some people are not gonna like me. I’m just happy to be back on the floor playing the game that I love.”
Davis scored a game-high tying 32 points to go along with nine rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots despite not playing a single second in the fourth quarter.
Beyond the uncomfortability that stems from the franchise superstar demanding a trade, the Pelicans are working a juggling act of playing Davis without necessarily hurting their chances to secure a high pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
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