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Anthony Davis and the NBA CBA rule out tanking for the New Orleans Pelicans

Discussing why the Pelicans are not going to tank. Thank the NBA CBA and the Derrick Rose Rule.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis starting in the All-Star Game this year was supposed to be inevitable. After all, Davis finished third in overall voting last year behind Stephen Curry and LeBron James with over 1.3 million votes. Selection as a starter in the 2016 All-Star Game for the second time would have triggered the Rose Rule, pushing AD's contract extension from $120 million in total value to $143 million.

Instead, the New Orleans Pelicans and Davis have struggled mightily this season. Any number of circumstances have contributed: a coaching change to Alvin Gentry, a tidal wave of injuries, poor play by a number of rotation players, and some of those players simply not fitting in Gentry's system have all been discussed.

The result? Davis collected just 400,688 votes this season and will not start in Toronto. He could be out about $23 million if NBA writers choose to leave him off the All-NBA team (selection to any of the three teams will suffice) in May.

Rule out tanking

If the Pelicans make the playoffs, Anthony Davis will make an All-NBA team, full stop. Trailing the eighth seed (this is not a misprint) by three and a half games, New Orleans is hardly out of the playoff race. There are 38 games left on the schedule and plenty of signs of improvement surrounding the team.

Trading away talented players for future assets remains the best play for the organization if we operate in a world without human relationships. However, the Pelicans (unlike, say, the Sixers before Jerry Colangelo arrived) do function in this environment. A plethora of transactions demonstrate how Dell Demps seeks to nurture these relationships. Trading away Ish Smith for assets was about the future to be sure; it was also Demps trying to find playing time when none was available in the Crescent City.

No relationship is more important to this organization than the one between Davis and the franchise. While there are examples (DeMarcus Cousins in 2015 and Kevin Love in 2013) of players making an All-NBA team despite failing to reach the playoffs, those are the exception rather than the norm. The New Orleans Pelicans will not risk alienating Davis by selling too soon.

True tanking is out of the question. I would be shocked if Davis is sat out games with unidentified "injuries" to increase the Pelicans' chances at Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram as the final weeks of the season wind down. Rumors swirled around the Pelicans possibly trading Eric Gordon, but his recent injury has decreased this possibility. Ryan Anderson is the best tradeable asset on the books, yet listening to Alvin Gentry or Dell Demps talk, it sounds obvious the team would rather keep the Flamethrower around beyond this season.

No teams in the Western Conference are pulling away with the eighth seed, the Pelicans are still in the race, and Anthony Davis increases the likelihood of a massive payday on a playoff team. This team isn't going to tank.

Is that decision wise? That's best saved for an entirely different discussion.