Davis, Pelicans left to figure out life after deadline … together

Pelicans All-Star big man Anthony Davis requested a trade back in January.

The Anthony Davis saga became a little stranger after the trade deadline. He remained with the New Orleans Pelicans and will return to the lineup.

“Davis is still under contract with the Pelicans,” Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate wrote. “The Pelicans still have basketball games to play.”

As the team announced Thursday, Davis will in fact return to the floor.

General manager Dell Demps said the team wants to try to win, and having Davis on the floor gives the Pelicans the best chance to do that. But the Pelicans and Davis will also be smart about his return.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Davis will play in fewer back-to-backs, if any at all, “and a reduction in minutes from his 37 per game.”

Davis’ request for a trade hasn’t changed and his preference remains the Los Angeles Lakers, by all accounts. But the Boston Celtics will now get their chance in the summer. His next destination, clearly, is unknown.

Davis is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. So Demps is telling the truth — Davis truly does give the Pelicans the best chance to win. They enter Friday with a record of 24-31, almost six games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot. A return to the postseason seems unlikely.

Davis, 25, has missed a few weeks with a broken finger, but has been medically cleared to play. His absence has given a real shot to center Jahlil Okafor, who has made the most of it. The Pelicans intend to keep Okafor a part of things moving forward.

There are a lot of things to consider in this situation, having to incorporate a player who you already know won’t be on the team next season. But the Pelicans and the man who is still their star have no choice now but to figure it out.