During the offseason, the Pelicans agreed to a five-year contract extension with Davis. It kicks in next season for the greatest amount they can pay him.
This was assumed to be for roughly $145 million, depending on where the salary cap ends up. That figure, though, assumed Davis satisfied the criteria of the “Rose Rule.”
That rule states a player with zero to six years of experience (eligible for a maximum salary worth 25 percent of the cap), such as Davis, can earn the salary of a player with seven to nine years of experience (30 percent of the cap) by meeting any one of these criteria, per the collective bargaining agreement:
• The player is designated once as NBA MVP (this is not going to happen)
• The player is voted twice as an All-Star starter (this didn’t happen)
• The player is named twice to the All-NBA first, second or third team (this could still happen)
Davis was voted an All-Star starter and earned All-NBA honors for the first time last season, and it seemed likely he would reach at least one of those achievements this season.
He was not an All-Star starter this season, however, nor will be win the MVP award. And that leaves his contract hanging on whether he will make one of the three All-NBA teams.
The projected $145 million deal would be the most lucrative contract in NBA history in terms of total dollars and average annual value. If he is not named All-NBA, the total value of his contract would be a projected $121 million.
Why he won’t be named All-NBA
Davis’ contributions have not led to victories. Although the Pelicans are better with Davis on the court than off, they are 25-43, the sixth-worst record in the NBA (.368 win percentage).
In the past 10 seasons, 150 players have made an All-NBA team. Ninety-four percent of them played on a team that made the postseason. Of the nine All-NBA players whose teams missed the postseason, only one -- DeMarcus Cousins -- played on a team as bad as the Pelicans have been this season (.354 winning percentage for the Kings last season).
And of the three players on teams under .400 who have made an All-NBA team the past 10 seasons, their overall numbers were stronger than Davis’ have been this season.
Davis has played in 61 games. Not including lockout-shortened seasons, since the NBA-ABA merger, there have been 17 players who have made an All-NBA team while playing 61 or fewer games.
Of those 17, four -- Cousins, Yao Ming (2005-06), Bernard King (1984-85) and Pete Maravich (1977-78) -- played for teams that finished with losing records.
So although not unprecedented, Davis’ making the All-NBA team would be unusual based on historical precedent.
The case for why he will
At this point in the season, traditional stats as well as PER say Davis is an All-NBA performer.
He ranks in the top 10 in points and rebounds per game and in the top five in blocks and double-doubles, although he’s lower in Win Shares and Real Plus-Minus, entering Sunday’s action.
He’s averaging more than 24 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocked shots per game.
Before this season, there have been 39 instances in which a player averaged those numbers for an entire season. In 36 of those instances, the player made first-, second- or third-team All-NBA.
The last time a player had those numbers and didn’t make All-NBA was Patrick Ewing in 1993-94. He was among four players to average those numbers that season, along with Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal, who were named All-NBA.
The other two times it happened, there were two -- not three -- All-NBA teams. Bob McAdoo was “snubbed” in 1975-76, one season after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was left off the two All-NBA teams.