Anthony Davis

Pelicans Notes: Davis, K. Williams, Payton

During a recent Q&A with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Pelicans big man Anthony Davis said he believes he’s the NBA’s best player. His head coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed with that assessment, telling reporters this week that there’s no one in the NBA that New Orleans would trade Davis for, as Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com writes.

“If you don’t want to call him the best, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody then he is the most valuable guy in the league,” Gentry said, according to Lopez. “There’s no one in the league we would trade him for. … Not even Beyoncé. [If] we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.”

Davis won’t be eligible for free agency in 2020, but this is crucial year for the franchise, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who argues that the outcome of the 2018/19 season will be viewed “entirely through the lens of Davis’ future.” As of July 2019, the Pelicans will have the opportunity to lock up Davis to a long-term contract that could make him the highest-paid player in NBA history, and New Orleans’ top priority over the next year will be to sell him on that extension, Kushner says.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans aren’t panicking after their 0-5 preseason, but there are a few issues – particularly on defense – that need to be addressed as the regular season gets underway, Kushner writes in a separate piece for The Advocate.
  • Most undrafted free agents who sign with NBA teams during the summer end up on two-way contracts or playing for G League affiliates. That makes Kenrich Williams a rarity, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams’ contract won’t be fully guaranteed until January 10, so his grip on a roster spot isn’t totally secure, but he’s on the Pelicans’ 15-man squad to start the season.
  • The Pelicans will be expecting a lot out of Elfrid Payton this season, as the young point guard will takes over Rajon Rondo‘s role as the starting point guard. However, the Louisiana native is happy to be home and is downplaying the pressure that comes with filling Rondo’s shoes, per Rod Walker of The Advocate. “The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself to be better than I was last year, to be better than I was yesterday,” Payton said. “Just doing my best to get the best out of everybody in here is the only pressure I put on myself.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, A. Davis, Rondo

After signing one star player this summer, the Lakers‘ plan is to land another one within the next year or two. With that in mind, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com spoke to Kevin Love about LeBron James‘ ability to recruit a second star to Los Angeles, asking Love what he’d tell a top free agent who was considering joining LeBron and the Lakers. According to Love, a player in that scenario would have to be willing to “follow,” as he tells Windhorst.

“You have to be resilient. I had a lot of hard nights. There were dark times,” Love said. “But I always believed keep fighting, I was stubborn about it. And LeBron makes sure you have a chance to win every year. He’s gotten a lot of guys rings. You’re going to win at the highest level. We won and we bonded and we’re going to continue this brotherhood.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Much of the speculation about an eventual Anthony Davis trade has centered around the Celtics, but in a piece for Bleacher Report, Eric Pincus makes a case for why the Lakers should actually be viewed as the odds-on favorites to acquire the All-NBA big man. Of course, the Pelicans continue to have no interest in moving Davis to any team, so things would likely have to take a Jimmy Butler-esque turn in New Orleans for the team to even consider the possibility.
  • The offseason acquisition of Rajon Rondo didn’t necessarily fill a positional need, given Lonzo Ball‘s presence at the point, but Rondo is showing why the Lakers signed him, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register, pointing the veteran’s ability to be a leader and game-manager. “He knows how to manage a game,” head coach Luke Walton said earlier this week. “He’s been one of the best point guards in our game for years. And one of the smartest. So he knows what he’s doing.”
  • The Lakers’ game against the Warriors in Las Vegas on Wednesday night provided a glimpse of the NBA’s possible future in the city, writes Tim Dahlberg of The Associated Press. There are groups in the city with interest in bringing the NBA to Vegas on a permanent basis, and Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson – honored at halftime – told the crowd, “I hope one day Las Vegas gets an NBA team.”

Latest Details, Notes On Kyrie Irving’s FA Plans

After announcing on Thursday night that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics once he’s eligible for free agency next summer, Kyrie Irving reiterated that stance today, telling reporters that he has “every intent” to reach a new deal with the Celtics on July 1 (Twitter link via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe).

As Irving explained, his decision to stick with the Celtics was influenced by the club’s young core of players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, as well as an appreciation that the franchise was willing to take a chance on him and get him “out of Cleveland” (Twitter links via Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald).

The five-time All-Star added that not wanting to move again after getting comfortable in Boston was also a factor in his decision, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). “Honestly, thinking about starting over was just a sh**ty thought,” Irving said today.

According to Himmelsbach, Irving initially told the Celtics that he would publicly declare his intent to re-sign during a group interview prior to Thursday’s fan event. But that interview came and went without Irving addressing his future — he decided to make his announcement in front of fans later in the evening instead.

Here’s more on Irving and the C’s:

  • Irving told a small group of teammates on Wednesday afternoon about his plans to re-sign, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston details. The news was a “nice surprise,” according to Al Horford, one of the teammates in attendance. “Just his commitment to the organization, and a sense that we can put all the speculation behind us and focus on the season,” Horford said. “That was very big of him to do something like that.”
  • Marcus Smart was also excited about Irving’s decision, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston relays. “It means a lot when you have a guy that has won at the highest level, has been where you want to go, wants to do it again with you,” Smart said. “It’s great for him, the organization and this city that he wants to come back.”
  • A league source tells Jay King of The Athletic that Irving and Pelicans star Anthony Davis have spoken about what it would be like to play together in Boston. Irving and Davis are both on designated rookie extensions though, and teams aren’t permitted to trade for two players on those contracts. So if the Celtics want to make a play for Davis, it would have to happen in July 2019 at the absolute earliest, after Irving signs a new contract.
  • Speaking to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge asserted that Irving is capable of being “the best player in the world” on a given day against a given team.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines several players who will be affected by Irving’s free agency decision, including Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, and Terry Rozier. We opened up a discussion earlier today about Rozier’s future.

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2018/19 Season

NBA.com has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, with John Schuhmann of NBA.com asking each of the league’s 30 GMs to answer an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors are once again viewed by the NBA’s general managers as the overwhelming favorites to be the last team standing, with 26 of 30 GMs (87%) picking Golden State to win the NBA championship for the fourth time in five years.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more noteworthy ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • LeBron James (30%) and Kevin Durant (27%) are viewed as the frontrunners for the 2018/19 MVP award, but two younger players led the voting for the player GMs would most want to build a franchise around starting today. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (30%) and Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (23%) led the way in that category. Interestingly, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t receive a single vote this year after leading the way with 29% of the vote in 2017.
  • The Lakers‘ signing of James helped them earn 70% of the vote for the team that made the best overall moves this offseason. The Raptors, buoyed by their acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, finished second at 20%.
  • A ton of different signings and trade acquisitions received votes for the most underrated addition of the summer, with the Pacers‘ signing of Tyreke Evans barely leading the way with four votes. The Spurs‘ trade for DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls‘ signing of Jabari Parker, the Pelicans‘ addition of Julius Randle, and the Thunder‘s acquisition of Dennis Schroder received three votes apiece.
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ decision to join the Warriors (35%) was considered the most surprising move of the offseason, followed by the Spurs/Raptors blockbuster trade (29%) and Paul George remaining with the Thunder (19%).
  • While Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the strong frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, GMs expect Suns center Deandre Ayton and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to be the best players five years from now. Meanwhile, the Clippers‘ selection of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 was viewed by the most GMs as the steal of the draft.
  • The Sixers (47%) and Celtics (33%) dominated voting for the teams with the most promising young cores.

Contract Notes: Jokic, Gordon, Nurkic, Jazz

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t technically sign a maximum-salary contract when he re-upped with the club this summer, but he can increase his 2018/19 earnings to the maximum if he helps lead Denver to postseason success.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (subscription required), Jokic is one of several NBA players with incentives in their contracts for the coming season. In Jokic’s case, he’s currently about $862K shy of his maximum salary, but he can earn $431K if the Nuggets advance to the playoffs, and another $431K if they win in the first round.

Here are a few more details from Marks on this season’s incentives and bonuses:

  • Aaron Gordon has a potential path to an All-Star nod in an Eastern Conference that lost more top talent this offseason. Gordon’s new contract with the Magic calls for a $500K bonus if he’s named an All-Star, per Marks. He could also further increase his earnings by being named to the All-NBA and All-Defense teams at season’s end.
  • Jusuf Nurkic can earn an extra $1.25MM this season if he appears in 70 games and the Trail Blazers crack the 50-win threshold, according to Marks. Nurkic played in 79 games last season, but because Portland only had 49 wins, this incentive is considered unlikely and doesn’t currently count against Nurkic’s cap hit.
  • Davis Bertans has to meet several criteria in order to earn a $250K bonus on his new contract with the Spurs — the veteran forward must play in 70 games, make 165 three-pointers, and average 6.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes, as Marks details.
  • Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Derrick Favors all have incentives on their new deals with the Jazz, with a focus on games played — they all must appear in at least 67 games to start earning their bonuses. Favors, in particular, has plenty riding on his performance, as he can earn $2.8MM in incentives. Of those incentives, $900K are considered likely and already count against his cap charge.
  • Marks also notes that several players will have a chance to become eligible for super-max contracts with their current clubs if they make All-NBA teams this season. That list includes Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Draymond Green (Warriors), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), and Kemba Walker (Hornets). Additionally, Devin Booker‘s new extension with the Suns would start at 27.5% of the cap if he’s named to the All-NBA Third Team, 28.5% if he’s named to the Second Team, and 30% for First Team.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Jack, Payton, Randle

In a piece by Brett Martel of the Associated Press, Pelicans star power forward Anthony Davis dismissed the idea that his decision to hire Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul as new representation meant he was setting the stage for a departure from the Big Easy.

That being said, Davis can reach the free agent market in two years and has increasing leverage to control where he plays, so it’s understandable that Pelicans’ fans seemed to become a little paranoid when Davis made a change, especially after Chris Paul left New Orleans in his prime shortly after he changed agents.

“It was just for where I am right now in my career — what I’m trying to do — I thought the change was necessary,” Davis said Monday during media day. “That’s all it was… I’m (in New Orleans). I want to focus on winning this year with the squad that we have. We have a good squad.”

There’s more out of New Orleans:

  • In some interesting but not so pressing news, Will Guillory of The Athletic relays that newly-acquired veteran point guard Jarrett Jack has interest in becoming a coach after he retires.
  • In a full article for The Athletic, Guillory asks whether free agent acquisition, point guard Elfrid Payton, can overtake Rajon Rondo‘s role with the team and excel in head coach Alvin Gentry‘s guard-friendly, up-tempo system.
  • Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com writes that Davis and fellow Kentucky alum Julius Randle are very excited to share the court together this season after mostly competing against each other in pick-up games all summer.

Anthony Davis Signs With Rich Paul Of Klutch Sports

Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis has signed with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the company announced on Sunday. Klutch Sports represents 20 NBA players, most notably LeBron James, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

As we noted earlier this month, Davis parted ways with longtime agent Thad Foucher and that Paul was the leading candidate to become his new representation. Davis, 25, has two years and $52MM left on his deal with the New Orleans in addition to a $29MM player option for the 2020/21 campaign. It will be key to watch how Davis’ new representation handles the five-year, $235MM max extension he will be eligible for next summer.

In 75 games last season, Davis averaged 28.1 PPG and 11.1 RPG, finishing third in NBA Most Valuable Player voting.

There have been waves of trade speculation surrounding Davis, who could eventually look to join a bigger-market organization if the Pelicans don’t move any closer toward title contention within the next year or two.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Pelicans, Anderson, Mavericks

Jimmy Butler may be the next star to be traded, but Anthony Davis won’t be joining him, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Appearing on a podcast with Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, Bontemps said there’s a “zero percent chance” the Pelicans will part with Davis this season [hat tip to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype).

Next summer, Davis will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract that could become the richest deal in NBA history, Bontemps explains. It’s possible that a trade involving Davis could happen in a few years if he decides he’s not happy in New Orleans or doesn’t view the team as a contender, but Bontemps said he won’t go anywhere until he has that contract in hand.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • This Pelicans‘ roster turnover this summer may present the biggest challenges on defense, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. New Orleans got noticed for its fast pace last season, but one of the overlooked factors in its success was team defense, which was fourth best in the league after February 1 at 103.4 points per 100 possessions. Davis and Jrue Holiday were first-team All-Defense honorees, but newcomers Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, who both had negative defensive efficiency numbers last season, have to prove that they contribute at that end of the court.
  • The decision to gamble on former Spurs forward Kyle Anderson may help decide Chris Wallace’s future as GM of the Grizzlies, suggests Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Huge contracts for Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons were already straining the team’s cap when Wallace decided to extend a four-year, $37.2MM offer sheet to Anderson. San Antonio elected not to match, so Anderson will be in Memphis’ training camp next week as its top free agent addition of the summer. It’s a huge risk based on Anderson’s career numbers, which included a career-high 7.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG last season. Giannotto states that the Grizzlies should look to replace Wallace if it doesn’t work out.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at some of the key figures in the Mavericks‘ workplace misconduct case, which resulted in a settlement that was announced today.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis Parts Ways With Agent

Pelicans star Anthony Davis has parted ways with longtime agent Thad Foucher, according to Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Players are required to file paperwork with the players’ union and wait 15 days before changing agents, ESPN adds.

Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who represents LeBron James, is reportedly a “leading contender” to became Davis’ new representative.

Davis, 25, has two years and $52MM left on his deal with the New Orleans in addition to a $29MM player option for the 2020/21 campaign. In 75 games last season, Davis averaged 28.1 PPG and 11.1 RPG, finishing third in NBA Most Valuable Player voting.

While Davis’ agent change doesn’t necessarily mean anything in and of itself, it may make some Pelicans fans anxious, Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweets. As Kushner notes, then-Hornets guard Chris Paul switched agents in 2010 shortly before requesting a trade.

There have been waves of trade speculation surrounding Davis, who could eventually look to join a bigger-market organization if the Pelicans don’t move any closer toward title contention within the next year or two.

Western Notes: Anderson, Wallace, Kleber, Randle

Suns forward Ryan Anderson lowered his guaranteed salary to $15.4MM for the final year of his contract in 2019/2020 but it can be traded for the prior fully guaranteed value of $21.4MM, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post tweets. Anderson agreed to the reduction to facilitate the trade from the Rockets. However, since his contract was signed under the previous CBA, its trade value remains unchanged. The Suns will have until July 10, 2019 to decide whether they want to guarantee Anderson’s full salary for the final year of his contract or waive him, in which case they’d still have to pay the reduced guarantee.

In other news from around the Western Conference:

  • Shooting guard Tyrone Wallace can’t be traded by the Clippers without his consent as a result of Los Angeles matching his offer sheet, salary cap expert Albert Nahmad tweets. The restricted free agent signed a two-year, $2.9MM offer sheet with the Pelicans but the Clippers opted to match it on Wednesday despite a roster logjam. The Clippers are prohibited from trading Wallace to the Pelicans for one year, Nahmad adds.
  • Maxi Kleber needs to improve his long-range shooting to earn rotation minutes with the Mavericks during the upcoming season, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Kleber will be competing with Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri for playing time with DeAndre Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki guaranteed to play steady minutes. The 6’11” Kleber shot 31.3% from deep in his first season with the club.
  • Anthony Davis called Julius Randle three times after Randle hit the free agent market to ensure the former Laker would sign with the Pelicans, William Guillory of The Athletic reports. Randle had his rights renounced by the Lakers after LeBron James agreed to sign with Los Angeles and Randle quickly agreed to a two-year, $18MM deal with New Orleans. Randle had more lucrative deals on the table, Guillory adds, but Randle wants to remain with the franchise even though he has an opt-out next summer.