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There’s no reason for the Pelicans to trade Anthony Davis now.

Despite his trade request, it behooves the Pelicans to stay patient and wait until a larger bidding war in the summer

From the time Anthony Davis was drafted by New Orleans, the rest of the NBA has been waiting for the moment when AD would decide he needed to leave. That’s heartless and cynical, but it’s been that way for every young superstar who comes along, and it’ll continue to be reality long after Davis finds a new home.

Weep for the fans in New Orleans who have invested in AD knowing full well that this was always a possibility. Weep not, however, for New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, who had more than six years to build a winner around AD. The best Demps could do was a 48-win team that lost in the second round of the playoffs.

That’s the game and everyone knew it. The only question was when.

Most people assumed that Davis would signal his intentions this summer, when the Pels came around with a supermax extension offer estimated to be around $240 million over five years. As astronomical as those figures sound, the prevailing wisdom around the league was that AD would say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and the Pels would be compelled to trade him while his value was at its highest point.

That day came a bit earlier than expected, as AD’s agent Rich Paul informed the Pels, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, that Davis would like out of New Orleans right now. The Pels have gone from treading water in the playoff chase to sinking like a stone while injuries (including one to Davis) weigh them down.

In a way, Paul and Davis have done New Orleans a favor. Don’t make any desperation moves at the deadline, because it won’t matter. In another way, they’ve put the Pelicans in an brutal position: Trade away your franchise player, or suffer through the next few months where his imminent departure looms over a doomed franchise.

The timing is curious because the Pels would be wise to wait until the draft for a number of reasons. Indeed they issued a statement late on Monday:

“Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our terms and our timeline. One that makes the most sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”

Good times. With the Feb. 7 trade deadline less than two weeks away, it is now officially trade season for Davis and New Orleans. There’s a lot going on here.

Let’s start with the supermax extension that won’t keep Davis in New Orleans.

There has been some discussion that the supermax hasn’t done what it was supposed to do. That is, it hasn’t given small market teams enough of an advantage in retaining their players.

That may be true, but what the supermax has provided is clarity. Don’t waste your time holding out hope that your franchise player will have a change of heart and get caught holding the bag.

What’s clear is that the Pelicans are going to trade the most tradeable player in the league. It goes without saying that this is a critical juncture in the franchise’s history.

So, who’s going to make the deal?

Demps already had one trade involving a franchise player overturned when his bosses decided that the return wasn’t enough for Chris Paul. His boss then was David Stern. Now it’s Mickey Loomis, who also runs the Saints.

This is one of the oddest front-office setups in the league, and it’s unclear what their objective will actually entail. They can try to get the most assets and begin a proper rebuild, or try to stay competitive in a market that hasn’t exactly embraced the NBA. They could also try to thread the needle and do both.

A player like Davis should command a king’s ransom. The absolute worst person to make a trade of this magnitude is a lame-duck GM working on someone else’s timeline. Before anything else can happen the Pels need to address their decision making process.

There is, again, no need to rush.

There will be many suitors for AD, but one team is uniquely positioned to check multiple boxes in a trade. That team, Boston, can’t make a deal until July 1, when Kyrie Irving opts out of his contract.

That delay is crucial because the C’s have been waiting for this day ever since Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors.

The C’s have stockpiled premium draft picks, including ones from Sacramento and Memphis, on top of another one from the Clippers and all of their own. They have young talent in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and they have veterans like Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward who could make the cap math work. No other team has all three.

The most likely trade scenario would include picks and either Tatum or Brown, plus Smart and some other stuff. The Celtics would likely balk at Tatum and dare New Orleans to come back with a better offer. At the minimum, they would want assurances that AD would be in it for the long haul. This is Danny Ainge we’re talking about.

Nothing is guaranteed, or even really known about Ainge’s ultimate intentions, because he can’t do anything about it until Irving opts out of his deal. To be clear, there’s nothing stopping Ainge from having conversations with New Orleans about what they might offer this summer.

That would, however, put them in an incredibly awkward position as they try to reach the Finals with the team they have now. How long do you suppose those conversations would remain secret? A minute, maybe five?

Rich Paul knows that. Hell, the whole league knows that.

So, why do it now?

Rich Paul is also the agent for LeBron James and LeBron plays for the Lakers.

The Lakers may not have a package that can compete with Boston’s in the summer, but they have a pretty good one now starting with, as LA Times beat writer Brad Turner noted: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivaca Zubac, and a draft pick. The Laker prospects of landing AD will never get better than they are right now, especially if their principal competition is cut out of the equation.

In addition, sources have told Yahoo’s Chris Haynes that Boston isn’t a preferred destination for AD because of “a growing belief of uncertainty” about whether Irving will actually re-sign with the Celtics this summer. Despite those rumors — and they are everywhere —Boston sources continue to maintain that all is well with Kyrie.

At the very least, making the Celtics sweat appears to be a feature, not a bug.

There are at least a half dozen other intriguing possibilities worth considering.

Say the Raptors offer up Pascal Siakam and others. Or, the Nuggets come in strong with some of their young talent. Or, the Knicks throw in Kristaps Porzingis and what should be a high lottery pick. Or, the Sixers call about Ben Simmons, another Paul client, which seems unlikely, but whatever, we’re in the dreaming stage. Or, the Rockets dangle Clint Capela and all the draft picks they can scrounge. Or, maybe it’s a mystery team. (There’s always a mystery team.)

But it would also be foolish to do a trade now because we don’t know who will control the most prized trade asset in the whole league: the No. 1 pick pick in the draft. What if Chicago, which happens to be AD’s hometown, lands the Number One pick. A package centered around the chance to draft Zion Williamson along with Wendell Carter would be pretty damn enticing.

You can swap out Chicago for any number of teams that might win the lottery and begin to build similar blockbuster scenarios, but you can’t do it now because the lottery isn’t until May and the draft is still five months away.

So if there’s no need to rush, what’s the worst that can happen?

Well, AD could get hurt again. The Pels would be wise to shut Davis down, absorb the losses (as well as the bad vibes), and begin preparing for their own lottery decisions. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but by the summer, there will be more options and a proper bidding war to conduct.

Waiting for the summer is the smart play. It’s frankly the only play for the Pelicans if they have any hope of salvaging this situation.

Like the rest of the league, they’ve had six and a half years to prepare for this moment. What’s a few more months?