Storyline: Anthony Davis Trade

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Anthony Davis officially a Laker

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“Anthony’s impact upon the Pelicans’ franchise and our region over the past seven seasons has been profound,” said Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin. “We are mindful and appreciative of his contributions. We are similarly appreciative of the opportunity we have as we move into the next phase of Pelicans basketball. The tremendous additions to our family that we announce here today represent the selflessness, competitive desire, and off-court character we intend build around.”

Last year, you had a front-row seat to the Anthony Davis drama and I know that can be difficult for a team to go through. Not only are you constantly being asked about it, but it’s natural for players to look over their shoulder and wonder if they might also be traded in some kind of blockbuster deal. What was it like having all of that drama and uncertainty around the Pelicans last season? Elfrid Payton: I feel like for all of us, to a certain extent, it wasn’t as bad as the media was making it seem. AD had already told us all that there was a possibility that something might happen, so it wasn’t a shock to us. We already knew. Then, the media took it and ran with it and made it bigger than it really was. They’d ask a bunch of questions, which kind of got aggravating. But, again, I just tried to remember, “They’re just doing their job.” For us, I felt like it wasn’t that big of a deal since he had told us that he may get traded.

Elfrid Payton: The only thing that was crazy was how they were like, “He needs to play in this game, but then he can miss the next game. And, when he does play, he’s only going to play 20 minutes…” That was the wildest thing for me and it’s what aggravated me the most about the entire situation. This is probably my first time saying this, but having him play some games and then miss some games and then only play 20 minutes in some games, that was hard. It’s hard to find a rhythm. And this is his job, something that he loves to do, and you’re taking it away from him. To me, it was almost like they were just teasing the guy by putting him out there for 20 minutes and then pulling him. That was the weirdest thing about the situation. I understand trying to protect your asset, but I feel like they should’ve just been able to sit him down for the whole time. You might as well play him for real or don’t play him at all, you know?

Boston: The Celtics had long been a destination possibility for Davis, but Davis and those close to him made it clear that Boston was not a preferred long-term team. Davis had no interest in playing a single game for Boston — negotiating tactic or not. The gamble would have been heavy for Boston. Still, the Celtics engaged with New Orleans over the course of the past week. They were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future Memphis first-round pick but not in the same offer, sources said. Celtics president Danny Ainge will always swing for a tantalizing talent, but even he had to balance the risk and reward considering the uncertain future of his free-agent star, Kyrie Irving. For months New Orleans ownership and top business officials had believed a mega offer would come from Boston. There were offers. Just not the multiple top assets that many thought would come. Tatum, or the Memphis first-rounder, is a strong piece, but not enough to top the Lakers’ overall haul.

Because of salary cap rules, if the trade is consummated in late July, the Lakers would have the space to add another maximum contract. That cap space could be used on players like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker, all-star point guards who will be free agents. That scenario would require the Lakers to draft the fourth overall pick for the Pelicans, or whatever team has its rights by the time of the draft, then sign that player as quickly as possible. League rules do not allow a signed draft pick to be traded for 30 days, which would make July 20 the earliest date the trade could be consummated.
6 months ago via ESPN

Calling those discussions in February “negotiations” is a bit of a stretch. The Pelicans were never serious about dealing with the Lakers then. They didn’t like being forced into this position by Davis and his representative, Rich Paul. And they probably weren’t going to let former general manager Dell Demps make this big of a decision anyway. So the Lakers — really just Johnson, because Demps wouldn’t talk to Pelinka — would call and Demps would write names on the board without giving them any feedback. Those names would leak publicly and do damage to the Lakers’ team chemistry.

The Post reported last week the Pelicans didn’t view the Knicks’ young assets as especially attractive in comparison to other Davis suitors, feeling they needed a third team more than any other squad involved. According to an NBA source, the Knicks “weren’t close” to having a major package to entice New Orleans on a deal. The Lakers didn’t need a third team to land Davis and unite him with James, but they have, as one NBA executive put it, “mortgaged their future for a very small window with LeBron.’’

Some thought that the final iteration of the Lakers-Pelicans deal would be a three-team deal, involving New Orleans potentially forwarding along No. 4 to another team, or the Lakers spearheading things and forwarding it along to another team prior to the trade itself for a player the Pelicans valued more than the pick. Indeed, sources indicated that the Pelicans are said to have had communications with teams prior to this deal in order to gauge value on what the pick could be worth. The Pelicans think that with the pieces acquired here, in addition to Zion Williamson and Jrue Holiday’s presence, they could be in the mix for a playoff spot this year despite dealing Davis for what is ostensibly a futures-based package. If they can make a move that allows them to remain flexible into the future while also getting someone that fits their longer term timeline, that would be attractive to them.

Sometimes a bettor’s timing seems too good. The Westgate in Las Vegas took a $10,000 bet on Saturday at 3 p.m. local time on the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2020 NBA title at 5-1 odds. Twenty seven minutes later, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the New Orleans Pelicans had traded Anthony Davis to the LA Lakers to join LeBron James. “I’m sure it was with knowledge, but that’s why we have liability limits in place,” said Jeff Sherman, manager at the Westgate. The liability limit for futures was set at $50,000.


Even if Irving departs, the Celtics remain optimistic about the state of the franchise. They hold the 14th, 20th, and 22nd picks in this draft. Even though some, if not all, of those picks likely would have been shipped out in a Davis deal, sources said the pursuit of Davis did not affect the team’s draft preparations, as they carried on, business as usual. According to a league source, the Celtics will continue to explore ways to potentially use some of those picks in deals for other current players, but that nothing was imminent.
6 months ago via ESPN

The Pelicans will now have two of the top four picks in Thursday’s NBA draft — No. 1 and No. 4. New Orleans will select Zion Williamson at No. 1 and now has the flexibility to select a player at No. 4 — or trade it at auction in the next several days. New Orleans has had significant interest in talks with teams in recent days on the fourth pick, and those talks are expected to continue over the next several days, sources said. Teams are pursuing point guards Darius Garland and Coby White high in the lottery, which gives New Orleans a chance for an even bigger haul from the deal.

ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Brian Windhorst on Thursday’s episode of The Jump if Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was using the Lakers’ offer as leverage to gain more assets from the Celtics, and Windhorst said he believed that to be the case: “I think it’s a good sign that David Griffin is shopping the No. 4 pick. That at least means he’s open to a deal with the Lakers. But I think all of this is a maneuver to draw as much as he possibly can out of the Celtics. They’ve preferred to deal with the Celtics since Dell Demps was the general manager. The Lakers’ offers haven’t changed that much. They have a higher pick, but they don’t really have different players to offer. If he really wanted to make the Lakers deal, and he really wanted the draft pick, he would’ve already made the Lakers deal.”

Should Irving leave, and the team’s bid for an Anthony Davis trade fall through, then short of moving ahead with what’s left, Danny Ainge’s creativity will be tested like never before. Though he wouldn’t share specifics, Grousbeck has admittedly heard some fairly exotic scenarios being discussed. “There’s definitely scenarios being spun inside the basketball office,” he said. “I’m there every day listening to them, that involve a number of players. I’ve heard a lot of scenarios. We’ll just see what happens.”

Durant, Leonard and Davis are the three best players available and are the only three stars the Clippers are actively pursuing. The Clippers are firmly in contention for Leonard and/or Durant, but Durant’s torn Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night — as well as Leonard’s Finals run with the Raptors and Davis’ recently revised trade list — has somewhat clouded the offseason forecast. That is compounded by the fact that missing out on the stars they want will not force the Clippers into a reactionary decision — be it a signing or trade — this offseason, league sources told The Athletic.
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December 8, 2019 | 2:55 pm UTC Update
He has to be frustrated seeing second-year players such as Luka Doncic (a legitimate league MVP candidate) and Trae Young (a legitimate All-Star candidate) receive praise while he’s missed Sacramento’s past 20 games after breaking his right thumb in the season opener Oct. 23 at Phoenix. This has to weigh heavily on Bagley’s mind, right? If it does, Bagley is adept at not letting it show. “It’s not tough for me,” Bagley said. “I want to play bad, but at the same time, my body is important. I can’t afford to come back and have something else hurt and miss some more time. I’ve got to make sure the body feels great, everything’s back, I’ve got to take care of my body, continue to push. I’m almost there.”
Storyline: Marvin Bagley Injury
“The bone is healing and everything is feeling good on that part,” Bagley said. “As far as the strength in my hand, it’s not where I want it to be yet. I’m getting there, day-by-day, just doing what the team wants me doing, strengthening it, exercises on it with playdough, this thumb (tool) that I use to test the strength in it. So I’m getting there. I’m going in the right direction, I’m almost there. It’s around the corner for me, I think it’s around the corner. It’s hard to say when, but I’ll be back soon.”
Considered an innovator among athletes for his outside-the-box design inspirations, Irving is quickly becoming a cult hero in the sneaker world for players and sneakerheads alike. He made $11 million from the company during the last fiscal year, according to Forbes. At the end of the 2017-18 season, Irving was the NBA’s second-leading sneaker salesman behind only LeBron James, according to the NPD Group, which tracks retail industry trends.
While scrolling through social media over the years, Irving noticed some of the show’s most notable scenes had been turned into memes. Irving told Nike that the show’s impact was all over social media, where plenty of athletes and teenagers regularly interact. He believed the show resonated with adults, too. “We felt like SpongeBob transcended beyond just one age group,” Nethongkome said. “It wasn’t just your generation or my generation. I feel like SpongeBob is so iconic. It’s like ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘South Park’ where you don’t have to be a certain age limit to appreciate it. It’s for everyone. It was less about cartoons and the relevance of SpongeBob now.”
He’s learned to be intentional about what he buys. An early money mistake he made was filling his closet with unnecessary clothes to keep up with the NBA styles: “I would only wear about 5% of the closet.” Thompson isn’t the only NBA player to admit to going all-out on wardrobe items. His teammate, Andre Iguodala, headed straight to Niketown after receiving his first big check and bought “a whole bunch of pairs of Jordans,” he told Wealthsimple. “I spent like two or three grand and it felt like I spent a million dollars. I didn’t know how to spend money.”
Referee Lauren Holtkamp-Sterling made NBA history Friday night when she became the first mother to officiate a league game. Holtkamp-Sterling worked the Bulls-Warriors game in Chicago. The game was the first for Holtkamp-Sterling since she gave birth to her daughter, Stoan, earlier this year. She missed last season because of a knee injury that required surgery, and the start of her 2019-20 season was delayed by abdominal surgery.
December 8, 2019 | 10:59 am UTC Update
The Knicks did some due diligence on Jackson’s Warriors tenure prior to hiring Fizdale. It’s unclear how far along Jackson got in the process with New York. But the idea that they chose Fizdale over Jackson, an ex-Knick who would have been mostly embraced by the fan base, is telling. According to sources, there are members of the organization who remain wary of hiring Jackson.
Storyline: Mark Jackson to Knicks?
As Love went through his customary stretching routine prior to the game, cleveland.com spoke with him about a lack of touches recently, pointing out that they’ve declined significantly since a terrific few early weeks. It was about trying to get a better explanation and deciphering whether opponents have sent more defenders in his direction. Leading into Saturday’s matchup, everyone in the organization admitted he needed to become the focal point again. Beilein said when Love touches the ball, “good things happen.”
Three winters ago, Doc Rivers was ready to be done. He was throwing up constantly. His energy evaporated. Pounds dropped off his body. Rivers needed to get IVs before he coached the Clippers. He no longer looked like the tough-as-hell guard who made a name for himself on defense. He looked frail. And tired. And miserable. “It was awful,” he said. “That was a tough stretch. I almost thought about quitting because I had no energy. … And I thought it definitely affected my day-to-day ability to coach — and to live. You’re always tired. This job is tiring. And then you’re sick on top of it. I didn’t do any favors for myself.”
Prisoners of a lifestyle that tempts coaches with a constant barrage of food and adrenaline, little sleep and an overflow of stress, the NBA’s coaches battle wellness problems that they all easily could succumb to. “By the end of the season, if you were 6 feet tall when it started, now you’re 5-foot-2,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “It just wears you down and you just have to somehow focus on yourself and your health.”
Rivers no longer drinks after games. Portland coach Terry Stotts will go home and watch a show like “Madam Secretary” with his wife. Brooks’ training staff told him to quit eating a giant bowl of cereal before his late-night film sessions. “The biggest challenge is to take care of yourself physically,” Brooks said. “Like everything else, you have so many things on your plate and you forget about yourself.”
According to NBA insiders, there is a belief that coaches who are in shape are much easier to hire and more credible in a room full of athletically gifted players in peak physical condition. To be considered for jobs, coaches often are advised to lose weight and buy nicer clothes because appearances matter. And some believe any hint of an issue with mental wellness would torpedo a prospective coach’s candidacy.
Paschall recently joined radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye on his “Beyond the Arc” podcast and discussed what it was like moving to the Bay Area after growing up in New York. “One thing I definitely like about it is the weather, it’s not too cold,” he said. “I’ve realized everybody is a lot nicer out here. Everybody says hello, I remember in my apartment building, people were just like, ‘How was your day?’ I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ This is weird for me, especially from the East Coast because everybody is so uptight, but it’s something that’s really cool.”
December 8, 2019 | 2:55 am UTC Update
Will the Knicks have a shot at landing Ujiri? That’s unclear. But once the Knicks started struggling last month, multiple Madison Square Garden people in positions of influence have been ‘obsessed’ with – and ‘enamored’ by – the Raptors executive, per SNY sources. In order to land Ujiri, it will probably take significant money and full autonomy. Whether Knicks owner James Dolan will grant that kind of autonomy remains to be seen.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
At the time, the belief was that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka negotiated Howard’s contract to be non-guaranteed so that the team could ties with him if he didn’t buy into his role, but apparently that wasn’t the case. During an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump,” senior writer Ramona Shelburne said that it was Howard and his agent that suggested that his contract be non-guaranteed (emphasis mine): “I think with Dwight, it also goes back to why the Lakers signed that contract with him that way in the first place. Dwight asked for that. That was his idea. That wasn’t the Lakers saying ‘oh this is the only way we’ll do it.’ This was Dwight and his agent saying ‘yes, we’ll do non-guaranteed just to show you how committed we are to being this kind of player.’”
December 8, 2019 | 12:26 am UTC Update
Allan Houston, the Knicks former assistant general manager and now the GM of the Westchester Knicks, pushed hard to have Mike Miller considered to be the interim coach following David Fizdale’s firing. Houston has been with Miller since he was hired five seasons ago to coach the G-League team when Phil Jackson was president. Miller successfully ran the triangle for Jackson, then adapted when Jackson was let go.
December 7, 2019 | 10:52 pm UTC Update
There has certainly been a key dose of the latter, including Jimmy Butler’s desire to join the Heat even with Miami lacking any cap space (the Heat set the groundwork for that with its exemplary culture), and Dallas — in late June — bypassing a trade for Goran Dragic after the Dragic camp had been told he would probably need to be traded to accommodate the Butler transaction from a cap standpoint. “We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” one Heat official conceded privately, even more so because the inability to deal Dragic led to the jettisoning of Hassan Whiteside (a player the coaching staff didn’t want) to Portland.
The Heat studied him when he played at Oakland University, but he became a strong consideration in July 2018, when team officials were impressed by the diversity of his offensive game — and all-around skill set — while watching Nunn play for Golden State against Sacramento during NBA summer league. Nunn had already committed to the Warriors’ summer program by that point, and the Heat didn’t have a roster spot anyway, but from that point on, the Heat’s scouting staff decided to monitor him in the G-League, where he would average 19.3 points for Santa Cruz. What particularly stuck was the ease to his offensive game, the ability to score in multiple ways, and his willingness to defend.
The California Air Resources Board has granted fast-track approval to a proposed $1.2 billion Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood that should allow the project to be finished in time for a 2024 basketball season. After nearly a year of back-and-forth negotiations, CARB determined last week that the project will not result in a net increase in greenhouse gases and, thus, qualifies for special protections from environmental lawsuits that could otherwise stall construction for years.
Storyline: New Clippers Arena
“CARB staff conducted an evaluation of the GHG emission estimates and reduction measures submitted by the applicant, and confirmed that the applicant’s methodology, calculations and documentation are adequate,” wrote Richard Corey, CARB’s executive director, in a letter to the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Assembly Bill 987, a law passed specifically to move the Clippers project forward, required the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center to be net neutral and reduce 50 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions through local measures.
Salvador Amezcua, 32, is better known as “Kickstradomis,” among the top shoe artists in the game. Give him a pair of kicks, and in due time, you’ll get back an original piece of work, not unlike the kid who started making up his own comic books when he was four, growing up in L.A. A savvy disrupter, Kickstradomis’ creations are a staple throughout the NBA and NFL, and are now reaching into the music and film worlds as well. Among his more well-known clients are Dallas Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic, the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Timberwolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, WNBA 2018 league and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and L.A. Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He does all the work by hand, and the backlog is weeks long. Using movie characters, cartoons, any and everything that comes to mind, he can put them on a pair of shoes.
“Now, for 2020, everything’s going to shift a little differently,” he says. “I have to be more exclusive with the people I want to work with. I really choose to work with the guys who’ve been loyal to me, and we have mutual (desires), kind of both want the same things. There’s a few of these guys that really want to see me grow and they’ve helped me in different ways. Those are definitely the ones that I stick to. Luka’s one of them. Donovan Mitchell. KAT. Those are some of my closer guys. But then there’s the new young guys, the new generation.”
December 7, 2019 | 9:04 pm UTC Update
Influential voices in the NBA have strongly advised Ujiri not to take the job, if it’s ever offered, sources say. But those same sources say Ujiri might do it anyway, if the money is right, if he’s granted the necessary autonomy and if Dolan funds Giants of Africa as generously as the Raptors ownership group has. Ujiri’s contract is believed to run through 2021 but with an out clause under certain circumstances. He turned down a lucrative extension last summer, sources said, leaving the impression that he wants to keep his options open.
Storyline: Knicks Front Office
The Knicks have hired and fired five lead basketball executives since 2004, including legendary NBA figures from Isiah Thomas to Donnie Walsh to Phil Jackson. All departed under clouds of various shapes, sizes and despairing shades of gray. Maybe it will be different for the next guy. Maybe the Knicks get lucky and lure a gifted executive like Toronto’s Masai Ujiri to fix this mess. Some NBA sources believe it’s possible.
Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin went on the Pelicans in-game broadcast recently to talk about the return of Williamson and the team. There he said Williamson is progressing and added the obvious — that there will be some load management of Williamson upon his return. As there should be. “Yes, he very likely will not be asked to take the pounding of back-to-backs initially,” Griffin said on the team’s television broadcast. “There will be a sort of ramp-up for him to getting back to where you would call him full strength, but he’s certainly going to be playing, and we’re trying to win basketball games. And quite frankly, we’ve done a horrible job of that.”
Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury
They were not ha-ha-funny laughs. And they were not playful guffaws. Their laughs were more incredulous, those types of chuckles that come with a shake of the head and take the place of the words “can you believe this?” “We’ve been getting hit from every angle possible,” Kent Bazemore said. “Preseason on the road, 13 of the first 18 on the road, injuries. … I mean, it’s been a whirlwind.”