While Anthony Davis’ playing status for the New Orleans Pelicans’ Saturday road game against the Memphis Grizzlies is uncertain, the fact that the team is playing him at all might be due to the NBA’s intervention.
The league office reached out to the Pelicans on Friday to inform the team Davis would be expected to play, per the rule against teams resting healthy players, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
There was some talk that the team might sit Davis for the final 27 games of the season, both to protect his trade value and to angle toward a better draft slot.
According to the report, Davis will have his minutes reduced and sit out one game during when the team plays on back-to-back days. It was unclear whether the Pelicans planned to rest Davis on Saturday in the first back-to-back since his return. He said after Friday’s game he would talk to coach Alvin Gentry about it.
Davis made an awkward return to action Friday in a 122-117 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, just days after his trade demand went unfulfilled.
The six-time All-Star was on the court for the first time since making a trade request nearly two weeks ago. He was sidelined by a finger injury at the time of the request, then the Pelicans held him out while waiting to see if they got a trade offer worth accepting before the Thursday deadline.
The New Orleans crowd booed Davis when he was introduced Friday, then each time he touched the ball in the early going.
“I was surprised,” Davis said. “It was definitely awkward, but it doesn’t bother me. I was just happy to be able to play the game I love.”
Gradually, more and more fans started cheering Davis as he went on to score 32 points and grab nine rebounds in 25 minutes, making 11 of 15 field-goal attempts and 10 of 11 foul shots.
Gentry left Davis on the bench during the final minutes of the game, despite the outcome being far from decided.
—Field Level Media