Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis can become a free agent in 2020 by opting out of the final-year of his Pelicans contract. In this picture, Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 09, 2019. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans are surely sweating over the future of Anthony Davis, with numerous questions over his long-term commitment to the franchise, especially since he will become a free agent in 2020.

The power forward will be eligible for a supermax deal worth $239 million this summer and it will certainly be put forward by his current employers. But their current situation is not ideal for Davis’ dreams of consistently challenging for NBA championships.

The Pelicans are 14th in the Western Conference and are considered outsiders to make it to the post-season playoffs. If they do not show signs of progress it is unlikely that he will accept the new deal and will look for a move away to a team that will allow him to challenge for the title.

Talks of a trade for Davis has dominated the NBA during the ongoing campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers said to be leading the race. The Pelicans have insisted that they will not let him leave midway through the campaign, but will be forced to trade if he rejects their supermax deal in the summer as they will not want to lose him in free agency in 2020 when they will get nothing in return.

Along with the Lakers, the Boston Celtics are also long-time admirers of the forward, but they will have to wait until the summer to make their move. But The Ringer’s Bill Simmons says the Pelicans should move now and make a trade that will see them get top talent in exchange for one of the top three players in the NBA at the moment.

Simmons has advised the New Orleans franchise to ignore the offer of Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball from the Lakers and instead look towards the Philadelphia 76ers. He believes reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons will be good value for them to allow Davis to leave.

“If I am New Orleans I am not trading him (Davis) unless I get a blue chipper back,” Simmons told ESPN's The Lowe Post podcast, as transcribed by The Express.

“I am basically going down with the ship because we have a talented team, 12,000 fans a game. And if you think Davis is going to leave in a year-and-a-half, that’s a really bad sign for where your franchise is going forward. I would want a blue chipper back — I would try and get Ben Simmons for him.

“This is the time to trade him when he has one-and-a-half years left on his deal and if Philly traded Simmons for him, and threw in the future Miami pick, and whatever else makes sense to make the deal,” he explained.

“And if you’re New Orleans, you still have a good roster. You can just turn it into the Ben Simmons show and that makes sense to me. What doesn’t make sense is trading him for Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart or Lonzo (Ball).”

Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, meanwhile, has taken a more understanding approach when it comes to Davis’ future. While she admitted that they are keen to retain him and spend money to strengthen the team, the American businesswoman insisted that they will not stand in his way if he wanted to leave.

“Now they’re [the Pelicans] not doing so great, but I think we just need to give them a little bit more time. I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony (Davis) here,” Benson told The Athletic.

“I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back. But I always keep in touch with people that we lose, like Benjamin Watson. When he left, I kept in touch with him, and now he’s back. And then you understand it. Adrian Peterson too,” she added.