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Pelicans owner says she ‘really likes’ Anthony Davis, but if he wants to leave, team ‘can’t hold him back’

Anthony Davis has yet to take any steps towards forcing his way out of New Orleans — let alone to the Lakers. Even if he does, Pelicans owner Gayle Benson says there would be no hard feelings.

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Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Anthony Davis is in the midst of yet another frustrating and disappointing season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Heading into this year, New Orleans had plenty of momentum to work with, having just swept the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and began the season hot, only to have fallen back to earth.

That decline has been met with all kinds of speculation about Davis’ future, and while losing him would obviously be a crushing blow to the organization, Pelicans owner Gayle Benson says she would have no hard feelings towards Davis if he forced his way out. She sat down for a Q&A with Larry Holder of The Athletic and addressed the situation.

“... now they’re not doing so great, but I think we just need to give them a little bit more time. I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony (Davis) here.

I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back. But I always keep in touch with people that we lose, like Benjamin Watson. When he left, I kept in touch with him, and now he’s back. And then you understand it. Adrian Peterson too.

A lot of people that left, I don’t ever hold grudges with people. Even as angry, well it wasn’t so much angry but disappointed as I was with his family, I don’t wish anybody harm. I think God takes care of things and he’s taken care of that situation.”

First and foremost, this is an extremely mature way to look at things from Benson. We’ve seen owners throw all kinds of tantrums in the event the star they drafted took off (looking at you, Dan Gilbert), so it’s nice to hear this kind of sentiment from someone who might go through that same experience.

This was in response to a question about whether Benson ever worries about being taken advantage of because she’s too nice. Frankly, it’s an odd question to ask. The Buss family has historically been very nice to the players who have come and gone and yet remained extremely successful nonetheless. If “being nice” is merely showing respect to players and the agency they fought for through collective bargaining over the decades, then it sure would be nice if more owners were nicer.

Now, as it pertains to Davis, it’s worth once again noting that he hasn’t yet taken any steps towards demanding a trade — let alone to the Lakers (but don’t tell teams around the league that). Until that time comes, this story isn’t advancing any further, no matter how frustrated he might get with that entire situation.

Once he does, and even if he only lists the Lakers as his preferred destination, there’s still no guarantee he makes his way to Los Angeles. We’ve still yet to see a superstar actually wind up in the city they preferred upon demanding out. Part of this has to do with a reluctance from those preferred destinations to offer anything of substance for a player they could sign outright the following summer, and part of it has to do with owners potentially not wanting to send a player somewhere they prefer out of spite.

Benson’s response to the question might offer some hope on that front, though it’s a lot easier to maintain that stance before that situation actually arises. We’ll see how things all play out here, but Benson deserves credit for the maturity shown in her response at this time.

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