The NBA has become obsessed with the “frustrated” superstar. In 2010 the world watched LeBron James host an hour-long TV special to announce he was leaving Cleveland, and they loved it.
They didn’t love LeBron, they loved the spectacle. Thousands criticized him and set insane expectations for him to meet, but regardless, it was better entertainment then any game that season, and people got addicted to the excitement.
This season the obsession with the “frustrated superstar” is alive and well.
It’s not a bad thing either, Pelicans fans, including myself, dream of Kevin Durant heading to New Orleans in 2016, just like Spurs fans picture a LaMarcus Aldridge/Tim Duncan twin towers lineup, and Lakers fans fantasize about a Russell Westbrook/Kevin Love UCLA reunion.
The truth is that while speculation and rumor are often the source of these dreams, they are becoming more and more frequent.
Superstars demand more today than ever before, and leaving is an easy solution.
Dec 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Thunder 112-104. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Players are scrutinized and examined so closely by the media, that the pressure to win is greater than ever.
This pressure is the driving force in relocation, and it wouldn’t be as prevalent in a past era when Skip Bayless wasn’t criticizing their “clutch gene”, and TMZ wasn’t paying people to try to ruin their life.
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Regardless, the idea that Anthony Davis is leaving the Pelican’s anytime soon is ridiculous.
Players only succumb to this pressure after years of stagnation, and enough financial security that money becomes an easy sacrifice.
Anthony Davis has neither of these things, though the Pelicans are by no means contenders, they have steadily improved every season, and Davis is still on his rookie deal at just 22 years old.
But even if you don’t buy that, even if you think he is absolutely fed up with the Pelicans organization, here’s why he will still be here the next half decade:
1. The “Rose” Rule:
There exists something called a “designated player max contract” which is very rare and lucrative.
First round picks receive four-year contracts which increase at a 7% rate annually, while the DPMC allows teams to offer a five-year maximum deal to one star level player on their roster in the third year of their rookie contract.
This effectively locks up that young star player for six seasons total, one remaining on their rookie deal, and five with a maximum contract.
The DPMC allows a team to offer their young star a max which is 30% of the cap, as oppose to the traditional 25% max most restricted free agents receive.
To qualify for this super-max a player must either be selected to two All-NBA first, second, or third teams, win an MVP award, or start in two All-Star games.
Anthony Davis current has one All-NBA selection, one All-Star start, and no MVPs, but you can give a player the extension prematurely, so long as they meet the qualifications by the end of their fourth season.
Barring an insane injury, Davis is a lock to meet these requirements next season.
Apr 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates with teammates guard Jrue Holiday (left) and guard Eric Gordon (right) following a win against the San Antonio Spurs at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Spurs 108-103 to earn the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The only players in the league who have a DPMC are Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Blake Griffin, James Harden, and John Wall. Not all these players received the 30% bump, but all received a maximum five-year contract.
Here’s the most important thing to remember, no player in NBA history has declined a DPMC.
No other NBA contract offers half a decade of security, and increases future earning potential as much as the designated max.
In addition to the historical precedent, Anthony Davis will qualify for the 30% bump, and may receive the largest DPMC in history.
Earlier this summer Marc Stein released this article explaining that this contract will likely be at least 140 million dollars, and can be offered July 1st by the Pelicans FO.
But lets say Davis does defy all logic and becomes the first player to deny a DPMC, does he even have the ability to get out of New Orleans?
The short answer is no, here’s why a departure is extremely unlikely.
2. Restricted Free Agency is Very Restrictive
The Pelicans are the only team that can offer Davis a DPMC, but even if they didn’t, Davis is still a restricted free agent.
This means any contract offered to him by another team in the league can be matched by the Pelicans, and if it is matched, then Davis us forced to stay with the team that drafted him.
Now is the point where people would bring up Greg Monroe.
Jan 14, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Greg Monroe (10) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Monroe was a restricted free agent this summer, and he decided to simply not sign any contract whatsoever. Doing this allows a player to wait out the final year of their contract, and then become an unrestricted free agent the following offseason.
People would also use this to further argue that Davis should absolutely do this, because he will then be able to make more money under the 2016 salary cap jump.
This is wrong for two reasons.
Firstly, Davis will lose money if he doesn’t resign. Him signing the extension this summer will only take effect after the 2016 salary jump, and since the Pelicans can offer 5% more than any team, he will be losing the addition DPMC regardless of where he signs.
5% doesn’t sound like a lot, but losing 5% of 100s of millions of dollars each year for half a decade will add up to a significant amount.
Even if Davis can get past that, The greater financial incentive is that he will be able to make more money in the future if he stays in New Orleans. NBA max contracts are based on what your last contract was worth, so if Davis chose to leave he would lose money on this contract, and the next max contract he signs in the future as well.
The second reason is a more common one, Davis doesn’t want to risk it.
Greg Monroe might roll the dice being an average starter who plays a slow-paced post game, but Anthony Davis is a superstar and you don’t gamble 140 million. Monroe was in the middle of stalled contract talks with the Pistons that went on for months, but with Davis you better believe the Pelicans will be at his front door with a pen and a 140 million dollar check the second July 1st rolls around.
Monroe was on a below average lottery team as slow low post threat playing league average minutes each night, Davis is a star who plays above the rim, runs like a gazelle, is top 5 in the NBA in minutes, will be in the All-Star game, Playoffs, and was a leader for Team USA this summer.
You know who else played for team USA this summer? Paul George. A player who was an inch away from a career ending injury the very summer after he had signed his DPMC. I guarantee Paul George was able to recover with the peace of mind of knowing he had secured millions of dollars for his future regardless of how soon he came back.
Aug 1, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Paul George is carted off the floor on a gurney after suffering a lower leg injury during the USA Basketball Showcase at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick Rose also only recently found his game in the playoffs, multiple years after his tragic year ending injury, which he also had after signing his DPMC.
Signing his extension this summer will allow Davis to recover, play, and succeed with complete confidence in his future, and you better believe his family, friends, and agent will be there cheering him on as he signs his massive 5-year max.
For these reasons, Pelicans fans can sleep tight knowing the chances of Davis leaving are minimal and illogical.
No player in history has declined the deal he will receive, and the truth is Davis has little reason too anyway.
The Pelicans have improved each season, they just secured their first playoff seed, and have found a new coach capable of fully unleashing Davis’ offensive potential in Alvin Gentry. According to CSN Bay Area Head Coach Gentry reportedly was:
"Primarily responsible for the Warriors offense — top-rated for most of the season — Gentry believes the Pelicans have underutilized Davis’ offensive skills. Not only did he express this during his initial interview with Loomis and Demps, but Gentry also came into that session equipped with charts and graphs to illustrate his point."
Showing the Pelicans are moving in the right direction with Gentry at the helm.
The next few years of NBA history will be about players coming to New Orleans, not walking away from it……