Pelicans show signs there’s life beyond Anthony Davis

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It was a great comparison to draw.

The almighty Los Angeles Lakers and their King were busy falling to the worst team in the NBA Saturday night while the New Orleans Pelicans without their biggest name were beating one of the best teams in the league on Saturday night.

The Lakers were losing with the league’s best player while the Pelicans were winning without one of the league’s best players who wants to play with the league’s best player but resides on the team that beat one of the league’s best teams.

You got that?

The saga continues.

New Orleans continues to show it wants to compete and not tank. Give Alvin Gentry an enormous amount of credit for keeping his young players focused and playing hard. It is obvious that they like playing together, playing hard and are playing for jobs.

Julius Randle has emerged as a star with the reduction of Anthony Davis on the floor.

He flourished again Saturday night in a big 120-112 win over Nuggets at Pepsi Center, scoring 28 points and puling down 10 rebounds with four assists.

Jrue Holiday continues to be his dependable, solid professional self. Holiday pumped in a team-best 29 points with five assists. Darius Miller contributed 10 points and Elfrid Payton dished out 10 assists to go with eight points. Jahlil Okafor continued to be productive, scoring 10 points.

Then, there is the play of the other two young players on the team who continue to take advantage of the extended playing time they are getting.

Frank Jackson scored 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds while Cheick Diallo had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Looking ahead, Randle and Holiday are keepers. You must convince Randle to stay. Diallo, when good, is the Energizer Bunny, playing with tremendous energy.

When a player knows he is going to get consistent minutes, it eases the pressure, the burden of proof on him to perform. Diallo looks like that guy now.

The same is true of Jackson, who went through a stretch of making just 1 of 20 shots from 3-point range.

The Lakers were fortunate to beat the Pelicans last Wednesday.

If you have been watching Los Angeles at all, you realize that they are quite a bit of smoke and no fire. Their 118-109 loss at Phoenix was embarrassing. That came one night after the Pelicans won at Phoenix 130-118.

If you think the Pelicans don’t play defense, watch the Lakers. They defend no one. The painted area is an open door for opponents.

Do you really want any of the players mentioned in the proposed deals Magic Johnson offered to the Pelicans?

I said at the time that none of the packages of players were acceptable. I stand by that assertion.

The Lakers had Julius Randle. I will take him over any of the so called “assets” they have right now.

LeBron James would be very pleased to see many of those “assets” head elsewhere.

One gets the feeling watching the Lakers that many of those “assets” would not mind moving on, either. Do you really want to play with LeBron, feel his wrath, listen to his constant criticism?

LeBron got on his high horse, on his platform, elevated above the rest of the league, and expressed his dissatisfaction with the Pelicans and his inability to orchestrate a trade for Davis after orchestrating getting Davis to sign with his close friend and agent.

For anyone to suggest that the Pelicans are the heavy, the bad guy in this current scenario is utterly ridiculous. LeBron thinks he can control the narrative.

Memo to King James—it is not working.

Many have branded James as the head coach and general manager of the Lakers. Ask Magic how he feels.

For that matter, ask Luke Walton how he feels when James ignores him during a timeout.

Some have even referenced James as being the commissioner or deputy commissioner to Adam Silver.

Kyrie Irving did not want to play with James. Kevin Love did his best to remain quiet. Ask his current teammates how they feel when James waves for the ball, demands it, and does not get it.

James has his “Shop” television show and pontificates on everything under the sun. He tampers with Davis and others without any retribution. He has all of the answers. Just ask him.

Meanwhile, Davis still cannot understand how and why fans in the New Orleans area feel the way they feel about him.

Memo to Davis—you created this debacle. The second part of the memo is that fans have a right to cheer or boo, just as you have the right to sign anywhere you want when your hefty contract expires.

By the way, it is not bad at all. The boos are not deafening and some fans still actually cheer you at Smoothie King Center.

If you don’t like your current max contract, blame yourself. You signed it.

While Davis played well against the Lakers at Staples Center on national television as you would have expected, the current iteration of the Pelicans plays harder and yes, largely more effectively without Davis on the floor.

Whether it is Danny Ferry or someone new, it is enticing, intriguing to imagine the possibilities with Holiday, Randle, even Diallo and Jackson and possibly Payton to go along with the likes of a Jayson Tatum or one or two other outstanding young players, along with a first round pick or two that a smart trade for Davis will fetch.

Let LeBron continue to shop around, if you’ll pardon the pun. The Lakers are an unimpressive 30-33, only two games ahead of the Pelicans. They are a slow moving train that is close to going off the tracks. They do not appear to be going anywhere this season and without Davis and with James a year older next season, do you really see things improving in the other LA?

It will be inherently more fun to watch the Pelicans, hopefully with Davis continuing to fade in his time on the floor, grow and compete hard while waiting for the other shoe to drop and to shop for the talent to infuse the franchise once again. Yes, there will be life beyond Anthony Davis in New Orleans.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

Owner/CEO

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…

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