The NBA world is taking AD’s temperature every day. Everything he does is going into an ongoing calculation of “will he or won’t he.” He is one of the best players in the world on the second worst team in the Western Conference. The Pelicans are 14th and losing ground while AD is wasting his prime years.
Loyalty is one of the most used words in the NBA these days. Paul George was booed in LA because he didn’t sign with the Lakers. He said that if Indy hadn’t traded him or the Lakers did trade for him, he would’ve been a Laker right now. So if Lakers fans should be mad at anyone, it’s the front office. Oh, by the way, HE NEVER PLAYED FOR THE LAKERS!!! So where is the betrayal part? (one of the best recent conspiracy theories is that the Lakers tampered with PG so much that the NBA threatened with severe punishment if he signed with them; that’s why he didn’t even take a meeting with them). Last night Kawhi got booed and “traitor” chants in San Antonio. That situation was a mess, but we still don’t know all the facts (partly because of Kawhi’s attitude towards transparency).
Any reasonable person would say it is the Pelicans organization that “betrayed” AD, and not the other way around if he decides to leave. But even if there is no “betrayal,” a player should have the right to choose his team without such repercussions; otherwise, they live to regret it. That is the case of Kevin Garnett, a story very similar to AD. Garnett was a perennial superstar, but one of the reasons he is often overlooked on “best PF” lists is precisely because he wasted his prime in Minnesota. He spoke about it in 2010 when commenting on LeBron’s future in Cleveland after the Celtics beat them in the playoffs (via CBS News):
“Loyalty is something that hurts you at times, because you can’t get youth back. I can honestly say that if I could go back and do my situation over, knowing what I know now with this organization, I’d have done it a little sooner.”
The best thing AD can do is call veterans such as KG and just hear their stories. It worked for KG. On a recent episode of The Jump, Chauncey Billups explained how he and Ty Lue convinced Kevin to leave Minnesota.
He never wanted to leave, he really didn’t. I’m telling you, he never wanted to leave Minnesota. Actually, myself and Tyrone Lue talked him off the cliff. and said, “You gotta go.” and he thanks us every single day that we encouraged him to do that.
Chauncey said these decisions are never easy and it was a long conversation they had with KG to convince him he should leave. Both Chauncey and Ty had won a Championship at that time and told KG he deserves to win and Minnesota is not giving him a chance to do so. Even though he was a Piston and that meant bringing competition to the East, Chauncey felt it was the only right thing to do.
AD recently shot down any questions about leaving New Orleans, but we all know that he has to be thinking about it. He should make his decision knowing that New Orleans doesn’t get to blame him if he leaves. He has been playing his heart out and had the right to say “Thank you for everything, but it just ain’t working.”