Big man Anthony Davis was cleared to play Wednesday night in the Pelicans’ 125-120 victory against the Bulls, but he didn’t as the Pelicans sat him ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline — a decision that coach Alvin Gentry confirmed to reporters.
Davis, who had been sidelined with a sprained left index finger since Jan. 18, was at the center of a frenzy last week when his agent revealed he didn’t plan to sign a contract extension with the Pelicans and would prefer to be dealt. The NBA fined him $50,000 for what it saw as a public trade demand.
As trade rumors swirl, and with the trade deadline coming up at 2 p.m. Thursday, all eyes are now on Davis. Bulls coach Jim Boylen wouldn’t say whether the trend of star players having more say in their future is hurting or helping the league.
“It’s just the reality of the game,” Boylen said. “I try not to get in other people’s business, other situations, and try and worry about our team, coach our team.
“Obviously, the balance between the team and the individual is a big part of our league, and so you guys know my approach — I just try and be direct and honest with the guys, and try and get our team to play hard and together.”
Davis reportedly isn’t interested in returning to his hometown to play for the Bulls, who fell to 12-42 as they lost for the ninth consecutive time at home.
“I don’t know why he wouldn’t want to come here,” Boylen said. “He hasn’t said the exact reason. I don’t know. Does he want to go where it’s warmer. Does he want to go where LeBron [James] is? I don’t know all those things. We have a great franchise, historic franchise, that is in a rebuild. That’s where we’re at. Why he doesn’t think this is a good spot for him, I have no idea.”
While many consider the Pelicans likely to make a trade before the deadline, it was the Bulls, surprisingly, who made trade waves Wednesday, sending Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis to the Wizards for Otto Porter Jr. just 20 minutes before tipoff. Without Parker and Portis, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine led the charge for the Bulls, scoring 30 and 28 points, respectively. Pelicans forward Julius Randle had a game-high 31 points.
Okafor returns home
Jahlil Okafor, in his fourth NBA season, pledged this year would be different. And as of late, it has been. Entering Wednesday, the Pelicans center and former Young standout averaged 18.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his last eight starts. Okafor, who had 13 points against the Bulls, attributed his recent success to more opportunities.
“My chemistry with my teammates is really picking up,” he said. “And I think my coaches are trusting me more and more every day.”
For what it’s worth
The Bulls are the fourth most valuable team in the NBA, with a value of $2.9 billion, according to Forbes’ annual rankings released Wednesday. The Knicks ($4 billion) took the top spot, followed by the Lakers ($3.7 billion) and Warriors ($3.5 billion). The Celtics ($2.8 billion) rounded out the top five.