The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to seek clearance from the NBA to hold star Anthony Davis out for the remainder of the 2018-19 campaign following his trade request, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported earlier this month that the league previously threatened to fine New Orleans $100,000 for every game Davis was a healthy scratch. That came after Stein noted the Pelicans were considering shelving the All-Star in order to protect a future trade asset.
Davis' camp went public with a trade request back on Jan. 28, informing the team that he would not sign an extension with the team. He is currently under contract through the 2019-20 season.
That gave New Orleans just over a week to get a deal done or be forced to figure out a solution for the final two months of the season. The Feb. 7 trade deadline passed, and Davis remained a Pelican.
That has created an "awkward" situation in the Big Easy.
Davis has been booed by the Smoothie King Center crowd. Not only that, but he had to leave the Pelicans' final game before the All-Star break due to a shoulder contusion. That injury did not keep him from playing in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game three days later, although he logged only five minutes.
Last week, New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry went as far as to call the ongoing Davis saga a "dumpster fire":
New Orleans has since replaced general manager Dell Demps with Danny Ferry, who has taken over on an interim basis. That came after Windhorst (h/t colleague Rachel Nichols) accused Demps and Co. of trying to sabotage the Los Angeles Lakers by leaking trade talks as revenge for allegedly tampering with Davis.
Per Stein, the NBA believes sitting a healthy Davis would not be fair to the fans and it would violate the "league rules governing competitive integrity." However, players like Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith have already taken extended absences from their respective clubs this season.
New Orleans (26-33) currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference, six games back of the eighth seed with 23 games to play. Facing long odds of making the playoffs, playing Davis down the stretch would only put him at risk of injury—something that has already happened since he requested a trade.