New Orleans must make smart moves to keep Anthony Davis around

New Orleans Pelicans v Detroit Pistons

Anthony Davis, one of the NBA's brightest young stars, is stuck in neutral.

Maybe the New Orleans Pelicans star has not quite made the leap into MVP or top five players in the league discussions quite yet, but that's no fault of his own.

They don't give awards and accolades for non-playoff teams.

Davis will start for the West on Sunday night in the All-Star Game in his home arena in New Orleans. 

However, the team currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference. This year's West playoffs shouldn't be as tough to get into, though, as there are only seven teams that you could stretch and call a "contender."

The Denver Nuggets, currently slotted at No. 8, are certainly a team that can be overtaken down the stretch this season.

New Orleans is stuck in a rut right now, but Davis reassured fans, making a strtong statement on Tuesday on a conference call with international media.

“I don’t plan on leaving, so make sure you write that down," he said. "I don’t pay attention to (the rumors), I don’t know who said it or how it came about. I’m with the Pelicans right now.”

NBA All-Star Game 2017 - Media Availability

"The Brow" is under contract in New Orleans through the 2019-20 season with a player option for one year after that.

So, the franchise has a couple years before it really has to sweat whether Davis will someday leave as a free agent.

That also means it has the flexibility to retool around their star a little bit because, really, their supporting roster can't get much worse.

Jrue Holiday is a nice player, and Terrence Jones has always shown glimpses of being a fine NBA player. He's been a nice surprise (mostly) off the bench for the Pelicans this year.

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans

Both of those players are free agents going into the offseason, along with Tyreke Evans.

It's time to blow it up and rebuild the rebuild.

The Pelicans should unload those players and get what they can for them, and tank a little bit to rise in the draft order (pick No. 4 should be attainable fairly easily unless other teams follow suit).

You risk getting Davis angry, but he's probably more frustrated looking at the current roster.

Draft picks and young players such as Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers -- who the Pelicans are rumored to be interested in -- could be pieces the Pelicans might be interested in netting in trades.

Philadelphia 76ers v Indiana Pacers

The bad news is getting a player like Okafor would be at the cost of an asset, such as a first-round pick or disappointing rookie Buddy Hield.

Statistically, Davis is having the best season of his five-year NBA career, posting career-high averages of 27.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

But much of that is because his supporting cast is forcing him to shoulder so much of the load.

The Pelicans have to find a way to build around their star player and keep him happy and engaged. This would mean involving him in discussions about possible trades and explaining to him the team might have to take another step backward in order to move forward.

If it's ever going to happen.

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