The growth of New Orleans big man Anthony Davis has been undeniable. He entered the league as a player with so much promise and not a lot of tape on what he could be offensively. Well, after three years in the NBA, he has shown that he was worth the number one pick, improving each and every season he has been in the NBA. And along with his improvement, the team has gotten better every year as well. This year, they even made the playoffs with a 45-37 record, although they lost in a sweep to the Golden State Warriors. Davis averaged 31.5 points and 11 rebounds or the series against the Warriors and he honestly could have done more if he was given the basketball even more than he was. The future seems bright for the Pelicans as they are a pretty young team and should learn from this experience. But before next season begins, the Pelicans are trying to lock up their most important piece. Reports are surfacing that Anthony Davis will be offered a max contract with the Pelicans that will pay him $140 million over 5 years. Of course that deal would be a no-brainer for anyone else on that team, but what does Anthony Davis want to do?
Davis is definitely still reaching his ceiling. At only 22 years old, he has become a matchup nightmare for many big men in the NBA. And the crazy part is he can still get better with his game. The thing that Davis has to look at before he signs this contract is the team that can be built around him. As the team currently stands, only have five players under contract for next season (Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis) and the Pelicans hold a $15.5 million option for guard Eric Gordon that comes off the books. And going into the 2016-2017 season, currently there are only three players under contract (Holiday, Pondexter and Evans). With the salary cap rising in the next two seasons, the Pelicans have some work to do to build the team around Davis. There will be plenty of players that will be available this offseason and next offseason to help the team get better. The question will be are the Pelicans willing to spend money to get better? If history tells us anything, the Pelicans organization, which used to be nicknamed the Hornets, may be willing to stick their foot in the free agent waters a little bit, but they have not been willing to go all-in for the talents needed to take them to the next level.
Chris Paul was once the best player on this franchise. He would routinely make players around him better along with putting his own spin on the games. But over his tenure with the team, it seemed like the organization never brought in players that would complement his star power. The best player that he played with in his entire career with the franchise was David West. No slight to West, but the team needed more than him to make it happen. As a result, the team was never a serious threat in the Western Conference and eventually Paul left via trade for the Clippers. The organization seemed to want to spend money on players that could not make an impact that was needed to take them higher, instead spending money on role players hoping they would take it to another level with Paul as the point guard. Now the organization was under different ownership at that point and time, but there is no indication that this organization will make a good pickup in free agency. If Davis is paying attention to the history of the organization, he should hold off on signing that extension this summer. Of course there is always the possibility that he could get seriously injured next season. But what he should do is make the Hornets prove to him that they are serious about winning. The organization will truly be able to do so if they are serious about keeping Davis there. Then again, if they are not serious about winning, they may bring in some more role players that cannot make as much of a difference. The organization will have an additional $15 million freed up should they not pick up the option on Gordon and that could definitely make some things happen in terms of bringing a great player in to help take the Pelicans to the next level.
Should Davis not sign the contract extension with the Pelicans, there are plenty of options out there available to him. Anyone out there would gladly make room for Davis on their roster. A team like the Los Angeles Lakers would have the contract of Kobe Bryant falling off the books after the 2015-2016 season. Although they have Julius Randle there as their current power forward of the future, Los Angeles would gladly move him to get the next superstar in the NBA. This is just one scenario, but the point is that Davis could easily pick where he wants to play and although he would lose one year on a max contract leaving the Pelicans, he may gain a team that would be more competitive and bring a better situation to his talents. Only time will tell what Davis can and will do, but the smartest thing to do would be to play Poker with the Pelicans. He holds a lot of the cards with his star rising along with the salary cap as well. It should be interesting to see if he actually signs the deal, which he may do, or if he holds out until the following season like Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge did. And we all see that Aldridge may be leaving the Trailblazers. Could this be the same path that Davis follows? We shall indeed see.