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Anthony Davis has told the Pelicans he wants to be traded

The superstar could have signed a mammoth extension this summer. Or not.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis’ representatives have informed the Pelicans he will not sign an extension this summer and would like to be traded, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Pelicans’ superstar was eligible to sign a five-year, $240 million extension in July 2019, but New Orleans’ continued struggles have apparently ruled that out.

Wojnarowski has on-the-record quotes from Davis’ agent Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron James. LeBron’s Lakers are expected to be one of the most aggressive suitors for Davis both in trade talks and in free agency.

The Pelicans released an official statement later Monday afternoon:

“This past weekend, Anthony Davis’ representatives informed us that Anthony does not wish to sign a contract extension with our team and subsequently has requested a trade. Although we are disappointed in this decision our organization’s top priority is to bring an NBA championship to our city and fans build our team for long-term success. Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our timeline. One that make 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.”

Davis is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in July 2020. That gives whatever team is able to trade for him at least a year to convince him to re-sign, assuming the Pelicans pull the trigger on a deal this season or this summer.

Davis is suffering from a broken finger, but could be back in action this week. The Pelicans are currently 22-28 and six games out of the playoffs.

This is HUGE!

The entire early part of the season, many wondered whether Davis would make his big move and request a trade from New Orleans or not. That culminated in bold quotes from head coach Alvin Gentry, who told media, “We’re not trading him. I can say that to the world. We’re not gonna trade him, no matter what. That’s not an option. It doesn’t matter what anybody says or does. We’re not trading Anthony Davis.”

Obviously now, things have changed.

New Orleans tried to keep Davis, one of the NBA’s top-5 or so players in town, but got supremely unlucky. It traded young pieces for an accompanying superstar in DeMarcus Cousins, but he tore his achilles prior to last season’s playoffs. The team opted not to re-sign Cousins to a max deal, and auditioned Julius Randle in Cousins’ role this year. That hasn’t been enough, and now they’ll eventually have to part ways with their best-ever talent and start all over again. And another team will immediately launch itself into contention.

All eyes on the Lakers, and maybe at some point, the Celtics

It’s no secret that LeBron James needs a second star in Los Angeles to compete, and the team has a handful of 20-somethings with bright futures. The Lakers can offer a really competitive package for Davis including however many of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.

New Orleans doesn’t have to deal Davis right now, though, and can wield the power of leverage over LA due to Davis’s super early departure warning. He’s under contract until 2020, so there’s no rush if they can’t complete a deal by the Feb. 7 trade deadline.

The best threat New Orleans can make is a trade to Boston over the summer. Because of the (Derrick) “Rose Rule,” Davis cannot be moved to the Celtics until Kyrie Irving signs a new contract in free agency (unless if he’s traded elsewhere, which isn’t happening). So until July, he can’t go to Boston.

The Rose Rule is given to players who achieve the highest accolades (MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or two NBA All-Star Games) in two of their first four seasons, and it awards them a five percent of the salary cap higher maximum salary ceiling. A team can’t trade for two players under such designation.

So all eyes on LA trying to get a deal done before its rival can. Or, of course, any dark horse team on the horizon.