With Anthony Davis on His Way Out, completely new Orleans Tries to Plot Its Path

completely new ORLEANS — The completely new Orleans Pelicans have scuffled along for years among the N.B.A.’s worker-bee franchises, a respectable team although not one that will has vied for championships. They lose as often as they win as well as play their home games in an arena called the Smoothie King Center, where a big-beaked mascot named Pierre roams the crowd.

although in recent seasons, the team has employed someone even more special: Anthony Davis, a gifted center as well as one of the best players inside the league. Davis features a pterodactyl-length wingspan as well as a unibrow, which has become as much a part of his persona as his skyscraping dunks. Fans know him as “The Brow,” as if he were a superhero who draws strength via his facial hair.

completely new Orleans used to love him for that will — until two weeks ago, when he shook the league as well as asked the Pelicans to trade him. The Pelicans, in return, made a bold move of their own: They refused to let him go, at least not yet.

today Davis as well as completely new Orleans are stuck together in basketball purgatory — “that will definitely can be different,” said Jrue Holiday, the team’s starting point guard — as well as the city’s long-suffering sports fans can only wonder: What do we do today?

“that will’s not a completely new thing that will guys demand to be traded,” Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans coach, said in an interview, “although I thought the timing of that will kind of put everybody in a tough situation.”

that will has been a soul-crushing few weeks for sports fans here. They absorbed a major blow last month when the completely new Orleans Saints, who are as much a tent revival as football team, lost to the Los Angeles Rams inside the N.F.L. playoffs after a missed call by the referees, which may have cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.

A week later, Davis’s agent, Rich Paul, announced publicly that will Davis wanted out of completely new Orleans as well as would certainly not sign a contract extension.

“today that will he’s going to leave, I’m excited to see what we can get for him,” said Ryan Bergeron, a 22-year-old legal assistant via completely new Orleans who can be a regular at Pelicans games. Like many fans, Bergeron owns one of Davis’s replica jerseys — which he plans to keep inside the back of his closet.

“I think we’ll be better off without him,” Bergeron said.

Not so long ago, Davis was throwing beads via a float as an honorary grand marshal at a Mardi Gras parade. although the city’s feelings toward him have curdled like week-old étouffée.

On Friday night, when Davis played in his first home game for the Pelicans since his trade request, images of him were cut via a highlight package that will played on the arena’s oversize video screens. The crowd showered him with boos that will drowned out scattered cheers. As if to amplify his value while sticking that will to those who expressed their displeasure, Davis collected 32 points as well as 9 rebounds.

“that will’s life, man,” Davis said of his frosty reception. “Some people aren’t going to like you.”

completely new Orleans has dealt with its share of hardwood hardship. Franchises have come as well as gone, along with star players. The completely new Orleans Buccaneers were a charter member of the American Basketball Association via 1967 to 1970, although then relocated to Memphis. The completely new Orleans Jazz, founded as an N.B.A. expansion franchise in 1974, had a similarly abbreviated run before decamping for Utah in 1979.

The N.B.A. returned to completely new Orleans in 2002 — back when the team was known as the Hornets — as well as eventually found a franchise star in point guard Chris Paul, who led the team to three playoff appearances before he, too, told management before the start of the 2011-12 season that will he would certainly not sign a contract extension. completely new Orleans traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers, then finished with the worst record inside the Western Conference.

although via the rubble of player discontent sprang fresh life in 2012: Tom Benson, then the owner of the Saints, bought the franchise, as well as the team, soon to be rebranded as the Pelicans, secured the top pick inside the draft. (After Benson died last year, the ownership of both franchises was transferred to his wife, Gayle.) completely new Orleans used that will pick on Davis, a freshman center who had just led Kentucky to an N.C.A.A. championship.

today in his seventh season, Davis can be a six-time All-Star who was averaging 29 points as well as 13.3 rebounds entering Monday. although he has been prone to injury, as well as he has never led the Pelicans on a deep playoff run. The organization has made missteps — Exhibit A: re-signing Omer Asik, a Turkish forward, to a $58 million deal in 2015 — although that will does not make them unique among N.B.A. teams; they are trying to compete in one of the league’s smallest markets when stars are generally gravitating toward flashier as well as more well-established franchises.

Last season, the Pelicans were playing well behind Davis as well as DeMarcus Cousins, a perennial All-Star whom the team had acquired through a trade in 2017. although Cousins tore his Achilles’ tendon as well as missed the playoffs. Without him, the Pelicans still swept the Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series before losing to the Golden State Warriors inside the conference semifinals.

Still another problem was brewing for the Pelicans. In September, Davis changed agents as well as hired Paul, who can be known for his close relationship with LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star forward.

Paul’s tactics with the Pelicans in recent weeks in pursuit of a trade for Davis were unconventional. Tom Penn, a former executive with the Trail Blazers as well as an analyst for NBA TV, said in a telephone interview that will most agents try to work with team executives behind the scenes. Paul, on the different hand, “threw a Molotov cocktail inside the middle of the room,” Penn said.

that will became a public spectacle, as well as the Pelicans responded by releasing a statement in which they said they would certainly do a deal “on our own terms as well as our own timeline.” Sure enough, they rebuffed the Lakers — one of Davis’s preferred trade destinations — in their attempts to pry Davis loose.

Once Thursday’s trade deadline passed, the Pelicans landed a final jab by tweeting an emoji of an hourglass that will had run out.

Aside via avoiding the public-relations pitfalls of being stuck having a star who no longer wants to be there, the Pelicans had little incentive to make a deal ahead of the trade deadline. More teams will be better positioned to make offers for Davis inside the off-season, as well as the Pelicans’ haul in exchange for him could be huge.

completely new Orleans also showed some pluck. At a time when some players are seizing greater power to determine the arc of their careers, the Pelicans decided that will they would certainly trade Davis when they are ready.

today, with Davis tethered to them for the remainder of the season — he can be a lottery ticket they will wait to cash — the Pelicans are searching for a way forward.

“What we’re trying to do can be get back to normal,” said Gentry, the team’s coach, “as well as what our completely new normal can be — we haven’t quite figured that will out yet.”