Anthony Davis didn’t expect to play for Pelicans again this season after trade request

With Thursday’s NBA trade deadline now past, Pelicans big man Anthony Davis admitted he didn’t expect to play for New Orleans again this season after requesting a trade.

Davis indicated he was fully prepared to sit out the rest of the season after he made his return to the Pelicans’ lineup Friday, playing a restricted 25 minutes and scoring 32 points in a 122-117 victory over the Timberwolves in New Orleans. Davis returned after missing nine games due to fracturing his finger in January.

“Obviously, it’s a business. I know their standpoint on it, and I was prepared for that,” Davis said Friday, per ESPN. “But when they told me they wanted me to play, my mindset switched and I’m focused on playing now. Anytime I step on the floor, I want to be effective. I didn’t know how tonight was going to be, if I was going to make shots or not. I was able to.

“The most important thing is we got the win. I’m going to do everything I can. I’m always going to be a professional at the end of the day.”

Despite the uncertainty around Davis’ long-term future with the Pelicans, coach Alvin Gentry said: “What we’re trying to do is bring back some normalcy to the whole situation.”

Teammate Jrue Holiday agreed with Gentry, saying, “You have a star player. If he wants to play, let him play.”

“For sure, that’s his passion, right? That’s why Anthony’s here, is to play basketball,” Holiday said. “He’s obviously made it known that he won’t sign back, but he still loves the game of basketball. I know that he loves us as players, and he’s gonna go out there and play as hard as he can. If Anthony’s out there, that’s the best chance of us winning.”

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Davis was met with mixed emotions when he took the court Friday in front of 16,980 fans at Smoothie King Center. With simultaneous boos and cheers, Davis said it was “awkward.”

“That was definitely awkward,” Davis said of the crowd’s reaction. “Boo? OK. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to go out there and play basketball. I was [surprised]. But hey, that’s life, man. Some people are not gonna like me. I’m just happy to be back on the floor playing the game that I love.”

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