Changing Pelicans landscape could help Knicks land Anthony Davis
CHICAGO — Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry didn’t exactly make a plea to Anthony Davis remaining with the Pelicans. In saying after the lottery that the situation will be ironed out, Gentry never once said he wishes Davis will be back.
The Knicks are monitoring the Davis soap opera in the wake of New Orleans winning the draft lottery, after which Pelicans general manager David Griffin declared he thinks he can convince AD to stay and play alongside Zion Williamson.
Gentry, who had to deal with the 6-foot-10 malcontent during a tumultuous season, spoke carefully about Davis’ future.
Gentry was asked if had spoken to Davis since winning the rights to Williamson.
“That one will be taken care of in time,’’ Gentry said. “It’s going to be fine. Everything is going to work out the way it should.’’
The Knicks hope it “works out” by way of a trade. They have the third pick, which would be up for sale in any Davis package. The Post has reported since last season’s trade deadline passed that the Knicks would be willing to move their lottery pick for Davis. The Post has also reported their 2021 and 2023 first-round picks obtained from Dallas would also have to be placed into any Davis package.
Asked if it’s puzzling Davis would not want to join forces with Williamson and star point guard Jrue Holiday to form a Big 3, Gentry said, “We are building something here. And it’s going to be something special. And it’s going to be something sustainable.’’
If the Pelicans can’t convince Davis to stay, the Knicks would become one of the attractive trade partners, especially if Williamson has any say.
The Knicks likely will have RJ Barrett on the board at No. 3 with Ja Morant a favorite to land in Memphis at No. 2. Barrett can rejoin Williamson in New Orleans if the Knicks offer a young package. Williamson and Barrett were roommates at Duke and are close. Barrett left Chicago after meeting with Memphis and the Knicks but not New Orleans.
Gentry, reflecting on a season ruined by Davis’ midseason trade demand, said he believes the turmoil will be eliminated in time for next season, possibly hinting Davis is on his way elsewhere.
“I think it was tough for everybody,’’ Gentry said. “The fans, the team, ownership. It was just a tough situation. I think that’ll be
rectified, and we’re bringing Griff aboard and we’re headed in the right direction as a franchise.”
Davis reportedly is unmoved at playing with arguably the most exciting player to enter the NBA since LeBron James in 2003.
New Orleans is the NBA’s smallest market. It’s been reported since February that Davis considers the Knicks a place to re-sign as a free
agent in 2020, calling them during All-Star weekend “a great franchise.’’ The Knicks haven’t won a championship since 1973 and have been in the playoffs just three times since 2005.
Gentry said having the No. 1 pick puts the Pelicans in position, whether Davis stays or goes, to build a stack of future pieces.
“[We want to build] something where we’re going to be good year after year after year,’’ Gentry said. “It’s not, you’re good for two years and then that’s it. And Griff has done it before [in Cleveland]. He’s been in that situation. I think he’s really smart, and he really knows how to build a team.”
The lottery results changed the landscape slightly, but it’s unclear how much in the Knicks’ favor. The Lakers and Celtics — even the Clippers — figure to give the Knicks a run for their money for Davis.
The Lakers moved up to fourth in the draft through the lottery, but it is considered a three-star draft, and Pelicans ownership seems bent on not dealing with the Lakers — who would appear to be Davis’ No. 1 choice because of the presence of James.
A package of the Knicks No. 3 pick, Dallas’ two first-rounders, center Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina could be in the ballpark.
It depends how the Pelicans view the draft. Gentry doesn’t see the draft as three stars and a host of role players.
“I think there’s going to be good players,’’ Gentry said. “You know how the draft works: There’s going to be somebody at 17, 18, 19 and 20 that’s to end up being a great in this league. It’s not an exact science. Look where Kobe [Bryant, 13th overall in in 1996] was picked, look where Steve Nash [15th in 1996] was picked, look where Giannis [Antetokounmpo, 15th in 2013] was picked. There’s going to be someone in this draft that will fall through cracks that’s going to be a great player.”
Williamson clearly has the best shot, but there are some talent evaluators who think Barrett could be the better pro — as a 6-foot-7 versatile swingman who can shoot, score and pass.
“Obviously it’s big for our franchise,’’ Gentry said of winning the opportunity to draft Williamson. “I don’t think anybody is more deserving from the standpoint of the owner, Mrs. [Gayle] Benson, the fan base that we have. Obviously they’re going to build it into something very positive. They sold a bunch of season tickets, a bunch of suites. It’s great for our whole city. Our city deserves it.’’
Gentry made headlines for leaping out of his seat on a video from the actual pingpong ball drawing held before the public reveal Tuesday and screaming “F–k, yeah!’’ and high-fiving his competitors.
“I’m a coach and we react to things. I’m not the calm, cool, collected guy that goes, thank you,’’ Gentry said. “I react the way anybody in that situation would in that situation, if you’re a coach.”
Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry were seen Wednesday night chatting with Griffin in the hotel lobby at the draft combine, where many trade talks take place. Mills and Perry declined comment for a third straight day and haven’t spoken to the media since the lottery results.
“We are going to get a really, really good player in this draft,’’ Gentry said. “That’s what I’ll say.”
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