Anthony Davis

Knicks Notes: Rebuilding, Development, Davis, Smith Jr.

Following their failure to land a star on the free agent market last summer, the Knicks are in the midst of another long rebuild, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Their young players have not shown signs of future stardom and the seven veteran free agents signed over the summer have failed to lift the franchise from the bottom of the standings, Popper continues. Most of the young players, as well as the veterans, are on the trading block. That includes Julius Randle, the only free agent who received a full guarantee on the second year of his contract.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The club is struggling with the dilemma of improving its chances of winning by playing veterans and devoting more time to toward developing young players, as Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic details. The Knicks have doled approximately 40% of their minutes to players 22 years old or younger, second in the NBA behind only the Hawks, but have relied on their veterans in recent games.
  • The home game against the Lakers on Wednesday provided the only opportunity this season for fans to show some love for potential free agent Anthony Davis, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. Signing with the woeful Knicks doesn’t appear to be on Davis’ radar but the Knicks will have plenty of cap room and Berman, citing sources, claims Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, would one day like to bring his superstar client to New York.
  • Guard Dennis Smith Jr. was available to play on Wednesday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. Smith Jr. missed the last 13 games due to an oblique strain.

Anthony Davis Set To Return For Lakers

Lakers star Anthony Davis will be available to play on Monday night, the team announced today, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Davis will make his return to the court in Boston as the Lakers visit the Celtics as part of their five-game road trip.

Davis has been sidelined for nearly two weeks, having suffered a gluteus maximus contusion during L.A.’s blowout win over New York on January 7.

The injury wasn’t as serious as the Lakers initially feared, but the team has played it safe with its star big man and hasn’t really missed a beat without him. The Lakers are 4-1 in Davis’ absence, with the lone loss coming by just one point to Orlando.

With Davis back in the lineup, the Lakers will continue their push to secure the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The club currently has a 34-8 record and a 4.5-game lead over the second-place Clippers.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Rondo, Kuzma, Dudley

The Lakers haven’t missed a beat with Anthony Davis out of their lineup for the last three games, beating Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Cleveland by an average margin of nearly 20 points per contest as the star big man recovers from a lower back injury. As Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times writes, the team’s success prompted Davis to joke today that the Lakers don’t actually need him, but head coach Frank Vogel wasn’t quite ready to make light of the situation.

“This is L.A., you know everything I say will be quoted out of context,” Vogel said. “So I was gonna make a joke, but I’m not gonna joke because we definitely need Anthony Davis.”

As for when Davis might return to the Lakers’ lineup, the team isn’t ready to offer a specific timeline, once again listing AD as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Orlando. For his part, Davis said he feels much better, but hasn’t yet taken any contact or sprinted, per Ganguli.

“When I feel like I’m able to get back to my old self and do the moves I’ve always done and be successful at it, that’s when I’ll be able to get back on the floor,” Davis said.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Rajon Rondo missed Monday’s game due to a fracture in his right ring finger and is expected to be sidelined for a few more days, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The veteran point guard has been ruled out for Wednesday, while his status for Saturday’s game in Houston remains up in the air.
  • Despite Kyle Kuzma‘s strong recent play, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report makes the case that newly-promoted head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has to do his due diligence to see if the Lakers can upgrade their roster by moving the third-year forward, since the team doesn’t have many other draft assets or prospects to offer.
  • He wasn’t one of the Lakers’ most noteworthy offseason signees, but Jared Dudley has proven his value to the franchise. As Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet relays (via Twitter), LeBron James referred to the veteran forward as “one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
  • In contrast to the first go-round, Dwight Howard‘s second stint with the Lakers has been “pure joy” for both sides, Helene Elliott writes in a column for The Los Angeles Times.

Pacific Notes: Dedmon, Giles, AD, Kerr, Clippers

Kings head coach Luke Walton said earlier this week that making Dewayne Dedmon inactive for three consecutive games wasn’t related to the big man’s desire to be traded and wouldn’t necessarily be permanent, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. Sure enough, an injury to Richaun Holmes gave Dedmon an opportunity to get back on the court on Tuesday.

In fact, Holmes’ absence paved the way for two big men who had been out of the rotation earlier in the season to play significant roles. Harry Giles got his first career NBA start, while Dedmon played 32 minutes off the bench. The duo combined for 20 points and 18 rebounds, helping to lead the Kings to a comeback road win over Phoenix.

According to James Ham of NBC Sports California, both centers received praise from Walton after the game, with the Kings head coach telling reporters that Giles gave the club some “good minutes” and Dedmon “took full advantage” of his opportunity.

With Giles facing unrestricted free agency at season’s end and Dedmon hoping to be dealt, it’s possible neither center has a place in the Kings’ future. But having both players perform well could open some doors for Sacramento at the trade deadline — at the very least, it will help keep the team in the playoff race while Holmes recovers.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • While Anthony Davis will be eligible to earn a projected $202MM over five years with the Lakers on his next contract, he may be more inclined to sign a three-year deal with a player option, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. That would give Davis the chance to opt out and sign a more lucrative long-term contract in 2022, when he has 10 years of NBA experience.
  • The NBA has fined Warriors head coach Steve Kerr $25K for “verbally abusing” a game official and failing to leave the court immediately after being ejected, the league announced today in a press release. Kerr expressed his displeasure with a call in the second quarter of Monday’s game vs. Sacramento, yelling “Wake your a– up!” at referee Jason Goldenberg.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic explores the likelihood of the Clippers adding a veteran like Darren Collison, Aron Baynes, or Thaddeus Young. Buha views a trade for Baynes or Young as a long shot, but believes the Clips shouldn’t hesitate to open a roster spot for Collison if he’s willing to sign with them.

Knicks Rumors: Trades, Portis, Fizdale, Davis

Several teams who have been in touch recently with the Knicks have come away with the impression that the team isn’t simply looking to trade for rebuilding assets such as draft picks, expiring contracts, and young prospects, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Those teams say New York has shown interest in acquiring “starter-level players” who can help the team in the short term as well as in the future, sources tell Begley.

While seeking only short-term upgrades would be a mistake for the 10-27 Knicks, it makes sense for the club to consider a variety of trade options rather than focusing exclusively on dumping its veterans for draft picks. Still, it’s hard to envision many scenarios in which the organization could use its most expendable trade chips to acquire a starter-level player who could be retained for multiple seasons.

Perhaps if the Knicks go that route they’ll target players who are a year or two away from restricted free agency and could be more comfortably re-signed than a player like Marcus Morris, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Players like Kyle Kuzma and Malik Beasley might fit that bill, though finding a Knicks package that would work financially and would appeal to a contender like the Lakers or Nuggets could be tricky.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Bobby Portis is drawing trade interest from multiple teams, Begley writes in a separate story for SNY.tv. Begley suggests that Portis’ pseudo-expiring contract could appeal to teams seeking a frontcourt piece, though I suspect the big man’s modest production (9.9 PPG on 44.0% shooting) and $15MM cap hit will limit his value.
  • Former Knicks head coach David Fizdale said during a Wednesday appearance on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo that he has “no ill feelings” toward the franchise following his dismissal, as Malika Andrews of ESPN.com relays. “That’s the business we’ve chosen,” Fizdale said. “I respect those guys greatly. I miss the hell out of them. … I obviously learned a ton from it and I was just really grateful to have that opportunity to say I was the head coach of the Knicks.”
  • During his radio appearance, Fizdale stated that the “media market” and “scrutiny” in New York put a lot of pressure on people within the Knicks’ organization and make it a “tough environment.” However, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News takes exception to Fizdale using outside pressure as an excuse for the Knicks’ failures, arguing that media and fans largely gave the club a pass for tanking away the 2018/19 season and weren’t responsible for the team’s questionable roster moves.
  • Anthony Davis had New York on his list of preferred destinations when he asked for a trade out of New Orleans, but he wasn’t interested in talking about the Knicks when the team visited the Lakers this week, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m kind of just over the whole situation,” Davis said. Asked what appealed to him about the Knicks, he replied, “That was all in the past. I don’t talk about no other team than the Lakers.”

Anthony Davis Suffers Lower Back Injury

9:36am: According to the Lakers, Davis’ MRI revealed a gluteus maximus contusion, tweets Medina. He’ll be listed as questionable for Friday’s game, which sounds like a best-case outcome for the team. Even if AD does miss a game or two, the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.

8:46am: Davis’ MRI came back clean and he intends to travel with the team on its upcoming road trip, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. It’s unclear whether or not he’ll actually play on Friday or Saturday, but it’s certainly good news for the Lakers either way.

8:24am: The Lakers got a scare on Tuesday night when star big man Anthony Davis fell awkwardly to the floor during the third quarter of the team’s win over the Knicks. After attempting to block a shot, Davis landed hard on his tailbone, suffering what the team called a sacral contusion (Twitter link). Head coach Frank Vogel referred to the injury after the game as a bruised tailbone (video link via Mark Medina of USA Today).

While X-rays were negative, Davis was scheduled to undergo an MRI late Tuesday night, so we’re still waiting for an official update from the team on the results and a potential recovery timeline. For now, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports that AD is expected to miss the Lakers’ upcoming road trip to Dallas (Friday) and Oklahoma City (Saturday). It remains to be seen whether he’ll be sidelined beyond the weekend.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Davis was escorted out of the arena on Tuesday laying on the bed of a motor carrier and acknowledged he’d miss some time, but seemed confident that the injury wasn’t a significant one. “I’m fine,” he told Haynes.

Davis suffered his injury just hours after word broke that he had declined a contract extension from the Lakers. As we explained in our story on the subject, the decision doesn’t mean the 26-year-old isn’t committed to the franchise — it just makes more financial sense for him to become a free agent this summer, since his maximum salary will be higher at that time.

People around the NBA don’t expect Davis to leave the Lakers, and Vogel suggested in the wake of Tuesday’s injury that the star forward is at the center of the organization’s long-term plans.

“He’s one of our pillars,” Vogel said of Davis, per McMenamin. “He’s our present, he’s our future and he’s one of the best players in the world. So obviously he means a lot.”

With Davis out for at least the Lakers’ next couple games, Kyle Kuzma – who has been the subject of some trade rumors as of late – figures to get an opportunity to step into the starting lineup, a possibility he acknowledged after Tuesday’s win, as McMenamin relays.

“Coach always talks about ‘next man up,'” Kuzma said. “I just feel like if I have an opportunity, I’ll be fine. … I mean, I’m not Anthony Davis, so I’m just going to be myself. And just do me.”

Anthony Davis Declines Lakers’ Extension Offer

Now that he has officially been a member of the Lakers for six months, Anthony Davis became eligible today to sign a four-year, $145.7MM extension with the team, and L.A. put that offer on the table, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. However, sources tell Haynes that Davis will pass on an in-season extension in favor of reaching unrestricted free agency this summer.

Davis’ decision to decline the Lakers’ offer doesn’t mean he’s thinking about leaving the team. While it’s possible he wants to keep his options open, it makes financial sense for him to turn down an extension now even if he’s 100% committed to the Lakers. As a free agent, he’ll be eligible to sign a five-year contract worth nearly $202MM with the club, based on the NBA’s most recent cap projections.

Although Davis is expected to decline his 2020/21 player option to become a free agent in the offseason, no one in league circles expects him to leave the Lakers, according to Haynes, who says the star big man wants to focus solely on the current season at this time.

Davis, 26, has been an MVP candidate and Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner so far in 2019/20, averaging 27.7 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 2.6 BPG in 34 games (35.4 MPG) for the 29-7 Lakers, who lead the Western Conference by four games. His next contract will certainly be a maximum-salary deal, but in-season extensions are limited to starting salaries worth 120% of a player’s current salary and can only be for five years total, including the current season, so they often aren’t true max contracts.

For Davis, a 20% raise on his current $27.09MM salary would work out to $32.51MM. His maximum 2020/21 salary if he waits until the offseason projects to be $34.8MM. Additionally, his Bird rights would make him eligible for five full years on a new contract if he re-signs with the Lakers at that time. He’d be limited to a four-year deal if he changes teams.

Davis was ineligible for an extension for the last six months because he waived his trade kicker as part of the blockbuster deal that sent him from New Orleans to Los Angeles last July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Anthony Davis Talks His Journey To The Lakers

Despite having dropped their last four games, the Lakers remain atop the Western Conference and offseason import Anthony Davis has been a huge part of L.A.’s return to prominence. The Lakers’ dynamic duo – Davis and LeBron James – has lived up to the billing thus far and championship aspirations remain intact for the franchise.

Ahead of the team’s eventual Christmas Day loss to the Clippers, Davis spoke to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports to discuss the journey that brought him to Hollywood. Davis, a free agent at the end of the season, has not committed to the Lakers beyond the current season. However, he was reflective in his discussion on the mindset that led him to request a trade from the Pelicans and what his goals are for the remainder of the regular season.

Check out some of the highlights from Davis’ chat with Haynes below:

On which teams Davis had in mind as potential destinations after his trade request:

“There were several teams in mind. My agent [Rich Paul] was doing a good job talking to the front office and management over there. He was the one communicating back and forth with them, and I was just trying to continue being a leader over there and still playing when they allowed me to. I’m not sure what was really being talked about, but the Pelicans didn’t do anything. So I still tried to lead that team, and when I got a chance to play, I played my heart out. It’s basketball. I’m still going to be a professional, and any time I’m on the floor with four other guys, I’m going to go out there and compete.”

On when he decided that he wanted out of New Orleans:

“I think it was just the wins weren’t adding up, and it seemed like we weren’t making the playoffs. Everyone around me and everyone who knows me knows that I want to win. And I didn’t feel like we were going to be able to do that last year. I want to be able to win. We got off to a great start. We were 4-0. Then guys got hurt and little things started to go south. But my mindset at the time was to keep trying to lead my team.”

On the ultimate goal of a championship driving his decision:

“You don’t have a lot of time in this league. It goes by very fast. So for me, it was about putting myself in position where I can win before this career is over. And hopefully win several championships and have several winning seasons. That’s what was going through my head at that time. I’m not sure what the record was, but I felt like it was time for me to at least let the organization know where my head was at.”

Injury Updates: LeBron, AD, Doncic, Hayward, Gordon

A handful of the NBA’s Christmas Day games have lost some of their luster due to injuries, but that shouldn’t be the case for the league’s marquee December 25 matchup. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) went through an impromptu practice today and are expected to play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. James and Davis had been listed as questionable.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the league:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a full participant in practice today, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game remains up in the air, but “things are looking better and better,” according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
  • As expected, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been listed as probable for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. Toronto. Hayward, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games, said today that he has been dealing with a nerve issue in his foot, which he believes is related to his ankle injury from two years ago. He has received three cortisone shots and feels “a lot better” after the most recent one, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, out since November 11 with a knee injury, may be targeting Sunday’s game for his return, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen also explores the ripple effect that Gordon’s return will have on Houston’s rotation.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams has made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is hopeful he won’t miss much time, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Davis, Ayton, Suns

Giannis Antetokounmpo has high praise for Lakers star LeBron James and his ability to play at an MVP level this late in his career.

“For me, that’s one of my goals, to be able to play at a high level for the next 10 years,” Antetokounmpo said (h/t Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). “But about to turn 35 this month and he’s moving like that, playing like that, playing smart… it’s insane what he’s able to do.

“But he’s LeBron James, you know. He’s different, he’s an alien… you expect it from him.”

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Anthony Davis will play for the Lakers tonight against the Bucks, ESPN passes along. The big man missed his second game of the season on Tuesday because of an ankle injury.
  • Deandre Ayton recently returned from a 25-game suspension, but the Suns will again be without the big man on Friday because of a sprained ankle, as Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic relays. “We’re just patiently waiting for everybody to come back,” teammate Mikal Bridges said. “I think we’ll be a way better team. It’s the NBA. Things happen. Injuries happen. We’ve just got to be patient.”
  • Gina Mizell of The Athletic examines what the Suns‘ rotation will look like when Ayton is able to stay on the floor. New additions Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric are expected to play almost exclusively at power forward once Ayton is consistently in the rotation.