Anthony Davis

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Griffin, Holiday, More

Making his first public appearance today as the Pelicans‘ new executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin offered an interesting take on the Anthony Davis situation.

As Will Guillory of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), Griffin said that after meeting with agent Rich Paul, he believes that Davis could be open to staying in New Orleans. Griffin has yet to speak to Davis directly, but plans to do so in the hopes of establishing whether AD is all-in or all-out on the Pelicans (Twitter link). He’s committed to convincing the 26-year-old that it’s possible to win in New Orleans (Twitter link).

It still seems like a long shot that Davis will be a Pelican to start the 2019/20 season, but Griffin made it clear today that he won’t let the All-NBA big man go without a fight, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. As Kushner notes (via Twitter), New Orleans’ new head of basketball operations doesn’t think the Davis well is poisoned, and believes Paul is excited to work together.

Here’s more from Griffin’s introductory presser:

  • According to Griffin, he made some “outrageous” demands during his meeting with the Pelicans, and the team was on board, giving him confidence that owner Gayle Benson is 100% committed to the franchise’s success (Twitter link via Kushner). Griffin provided some clues at the changes he wants to make, mentioning his desire to invest in areas such as analytics, player performance, and the medical department (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Griffin is excited about several of the players currently under contract with the Pelicans, singling out Jrue Holiday as someone who represents everything the Pelicans want to be (Twitter link via Guillory). The former Cavaliers GM said he “absolutely” feels as if Holiday is a foundational piece for the club (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Responding to the idea of New Orleans as a small-market team, Griffin said that it would mean more to win in a “small” market, adding that it’s “bulls–t” to say winning in New Orleans isn’t possible (Twitter link via Guillory).
  • Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said the Pelicans looked at more than 100 candidates for the job before hiring Griffin (Twitter link via Kushner). Obviously, the club narrowed that list down to a much smaller group before beginning interviews. Griffin, who has been a candidate for other front office openings, said it took him about a half-hour in the interview room for him to realize that the Pelicans’ job was the one he really wanted (Twitter link via Kushner).

Front Office Notes: Pelicans, Redden, Wolves, Lakers

Could the hiring of David Griffin as the Pelicans‘ new head of basketball operations change how Anthony Davis views his situation in New Orleans? That’s the question Joe Vardon explores in his latest article for The Athletic, noting that the former Cavaliers GM earned LeBron James‘ respect in Cleveland and oversaw a Cavs roster that featured three Rich Paul clients.

While there has been no indication yet that Davis is willing to change his mind on his desire to get out of New Orleans, Griffin is likely to make a “direct appeal” to the All-Star big man in an effort to get him to reconsider, Vardon writes. Ultimately, Vardon expects Griffin to have to move Davis, but the veteran exec figures to enter the situation with an open mind.

Within his article on Griffin, who will be formally introduced by the Pelicans today, Vardon adds that the team’s new executive VP of basketball operations will be given permission to hire a new general manager. According to Vardon, former Cavs executive Trent Redden is a strong candidate to fill that role. Redden caught on with the Clippers as an assistant GM in 2017 after being let go by Cleveland along with Griffin.

Here are a few more front office notes from around the NBA:

  • In addition to reaching out to Clippers GM Michael Winger and Rockets executive VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves also contacted Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth about their president of basketball operations job, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski takes a closer look at those candidates, observing that the initial list should reassure Wolves fans that owner Glen Taylor won’t just “revert to his buddies” during the search process.
  • In an article for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz makes the case for why the Lakers need to hire an outside to run their front office following Magic Johnson‘s departure from his president of basketball operations role.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst identifies Jon Horst (Bucks), Masai Ujiri (Raptors), Sean Marks (Nets), Daryl Morey (Rockets), and Tim Connelly (Nuggets) as strong candidates for this year’s Executive of the Year award. We made our picks for Executive of the Year on Monday.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Holiday, Payton, Randle

While it has long been considered a formality that the Pelicans will move Anthony Davis during the offseason, the star center acknowledged today that, with his contract set to run through at least 2020, it’s not a given that he’ll be playing for a new team next fall.

“I’m under contract still,” Davis said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. “I have a year left. Obviously it’s a possibility it could happen. I don’t have ill will towards anybody. I know that it’s a possibility that next year I could be here as well. So I can’t be mad if I’m here next year.”

Davis, who said that he has no regrets about requesting a trade from the Pelicans earlier this year, admitted that the saga was a “wild” experience, but said he’s excited to see what the future holds. Davis’ future figures to be in the hands of New Orleans’ next general manager — while Danny Ferry assumed interim GM duties, Dell Demps‘ permanent replacement has yet to be hired.

“Seeing who the Pelicans make their GM and having a conversation with that person about the future,” Davis said when asked about his next step. “My time here has always been great. I love playing here. It’s something that I will definitely hold in my heart forever, but the next step is waiting on the Pelicans [to fill] that GM job.”

Here’s more on Davis and the Pelicans:

  • As Friedell details within the same article, Davis also attempted to sidestep responsibility for wearing a Looney Tunes shirt reading “That’s All Folks” on the day of what could have been his final game as a Pelican. “I didn’t choose it,” AD said. “I actually didn’t choose it. It was hanging for me already when I put my clothes on.”
  • Addressing the Davis situation, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said the 26-year-old is a “great kid” who got some “bad advice,” Friedell writes in another ESPN.com story. “We’re going to move on regardless of what [happened],” Gentry said. “We’ve got great ownership. We’re going to have great leadership. We got a bunch of guys in there that believe in each other. So it doesn’t matter what [happens], we’re going to be good next year.”
  • In his end-of-season presser, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday said that Demps used to keep him in the loop on major decisions, adding that he hopes the franchise will continue soliciting his input (Twitter link via Will Guillory of The Athletic).
  • Holiday also offered his two cents on free-agents-to-be Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle — he’d like to see the team bring both players back, if possible (Twitter link via Guillory).

Southwest Notes: Bzdelik, Conley, Davis, Holiday

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni missed a second consecutive game with the stomach flu today, but fortunately for the Rockets, associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has been able to pick up the slack in D’Antoni’s absence.

Unfortunately, the Rockets do not yet know whether Bzdelik, 66, will return to the team next season after he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he hasn’t yet thought about his future beyond this season.

“That’s a really good question. I don’t know the answer to it,” Bzdelik said when asked whether he intended to return to the Rockets next season. “First of all, none of us have any guarantees on tomorrow… I work for a great organization, great ownership, great management. I work for a great, great man and basketball coach in Mike. I work with great people. I thoroughly enjoy my job.”

Bzdelik, who retired after the end of last season due to an unspecified personal issue, returned to the Rockets in November.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division this evening:

  • Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a detailed look at the value of Mike Conley to the Memphis franchise in the wake of what could be the final few games of the 31-year-old point guard’s career with the Grizzlies. Additionally, Herrington analyzes some variables that may affect whether the team ultimately trades Conley.
  • While recognizing that Anthony Davis is the greatest player in franchise history, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes how Davis’ connection with the Pelicans franchise and the city of New Orleans imploded the second he demanded a trade. Both Davis and the Pelicans are sick of losing, but were never able to come up with a joint solution to the problem.
  • In another article for The Advocate, Kushner details how Davis’ inevitable departure may lead to Jrue Holiday being the new face of the Pelicans, a role and challenge that Holiday is ready to embrace. “I’m going to go with it,” Holiday said. “I’m excited to run with it. I guess I’d like to be more involved with decisions and decision-making moving forward.”

Southwest Notes: Porzingis, Mavericks, Davis, Capela

The NBA would have rejected February’s trade between the Knicks and Mavericks centered around Kristaps Porzingis if the league believed the newly announced rape claim against Porzingis was strong, according to Marc Stein and Kevin Draper of the New York Times.

Porzingis, who was dealt to Dallas alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round picks, is being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in New York City last February.

“We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said.

The Knicks made the Mavericks aware of a potential “extortion” issue with Porzingis, but it’s unclear whether Dallas was ever informed of the impending rape case. Mavs officials have been advised by federal authorities not to comment further on the matter.

“I’ve got nothing to say — n-o-t-h-i-n-g,” Mavs owner Mark Cuban said, spelling out the word. “When I said federal authorities said for us not to comment, they were being serious.”

From a basketball standpoint, Porzingis has a $4.5MM qualifying offer for the 2019/20 season. The Mavericks envision him to be a strong part of their future alongside young star Luka Doncic, and the team could explore signing a third star in free agency this summer.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • The court of public opinion is beginning to sway in the favor of Porzingis in this case, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. The accuser stayed in Porzingis’ home for nine hours after the alleged assault, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, appearing to enjoy the rest of her time with Porzingis. Porzingis has yet to play in a single game for the Mavericks.
  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis has been fined $15K for directing an obscene gesture toward a fan, the NBA announced on Thursday. The incident occurred while Davis was exiting the court after New Orleans’ 115-109 road loss to the Hornets on Wednesday night. Davis showed his middle finger toward the heckling fan, with his actions being captured on video and quickly circulating on social media.
  • A notable free throw bonus is still in play for Rockets center Clint Capela, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Capela needs to shoot 65% or higher from the charity stripe this season to obtain $500K, and the 24-year-old is holding a 63.4% mark with three games left on the season. The bonus could help push Houston into the tax if Capela reaches it and also earns a $1MM incentive for the Rockets making it back to the Western Conference Finals.

Lakers Rumors: Zubac, LeBron, Butler, PG13, Randle

The Lakers‘ decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the Clippers in a deal for Mike Muscala was one of the more questionable deadline moves last month. To make matter worse, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes that the Lakers actually instigated those trade discussions.

Sources tell McMenamin that the Clippers never inquired on Zubac, and that it was the Lakers who made the offer, which the Clips “gladly accepted.” Veteran Clippers executive Jerry West “couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap,” McMenamin writes.

The Lakers had hoped the roster spot they opened up in that swap – which also included Michael Beasley – would clear the way for the team to sign a player like Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, or Enes Kanter on the buyout market, per McMenamin. However, those players either chose other teams or never became available.

McMenamin’s latest article for ESPN digs into the Lakers’ disappointing season in detail, and includes several more noteworthy tidbits. Here are the highlights from the piece:

  • One team source tells McMenamin that they felt as if LeBron James didn’t fully engage with his younger teammates prior to the trade deadline.
  • Rajon Rondo organized a players-only meeting about a month ago in the hopes that the team would find “a better understanding of one another,” a source tells McMenamin. Players spoke up about LeBron’s “inconsistent body language,” and James took the criticism to heart, making an effort to improve on that going forward. Of course, the meeting hasn’t led to improved on-court results. “Just because [the meeting] was positive doesn’t mean we’re going to win 25 games in a row,” a team source told McMenamin.
  • Anthony Davis‘ name didn’t come up last summer when James met with Magic Johnson on the eve of free agency and discussed future plans. However, it has been clear all year that the Lakers intend to pair LeBron with a second maximum-salary free agent. L.A. was one of several teams to inquire on Jimmy Butler before he was sent to Philadelphia last fall, McMenamin reports.
  • Paul George‘s decision to stay in Oklahoma City last offseason was more about what the Thunder did right than what the Lakers did wrong, sources tell McMenamin. Still, it’s worth noting that George was somewhat familiar with how the Lakers ran things, having spoken to his agent Aaron Mintz and former teammate Corey Brewer about their experiences with the organization.
  • Mintz represents Julius Randle, who never received an offer from the Lakers as a restricted free agency last July, per McMenamin. Randle ultimately signed with the Pelicans because he felt like they really wanted him, which wasn’t a feeling he got from the Lakers, despite the fact that head coach Luke Walton and his staff hoped he’d be back, McMenamin writes.

Pacific Notes: Vucevic, Clippers, Bell, LeBron

The Kings will be among the teams chasing Magic center Nikola Vucevic in free agency this summer, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. In a question-and-answer column, Amick states that Vucevic is a target for Sacramento, adding that it will likely take a maximum offer to land him. The Kings’ cap space will depend on what Harrison Barnes does with his $25.1MM player option, but they may be able to put together a max deal even if Barnes opts in.

At age 28, Vucevic doesn’t quite fit with the Kings’ collection of young players, but Sacramento’s interest could be an indication that the club is speeding up its timeline to become a contender. Signing Vucevic would probably mean the Kings would be done with Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are the free agents most likely to want to join the Clippers if they can open two max salary slots, Amick adds in the same column. However, he adds that sources have told him L.A.’s interest in signing Butler is “slim to none.” Amick also expects the Clippers to be among the teams submitting a trade offer to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis.
  • Jordan Bell‘s one-game suspension was the result of charging a hotel purchase to assistant coach Mike Brown, report Amick and Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The amount that Bell charged at a Memphis hotel hasn’t been released and it’s not clear if the purchase was intended as a prank, but the team believed it warranted disciplinary action. “The (press) release was self-explanatory,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Wednesday. “He’s suspended for tonight’s game for conduct detrimental to the team. Beyond that, it’s our business and nobody else’s. We’ll move on.” This may be Bell’s last season with Golden State, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, who notes that Bell is headed toward restricted free agency and the Warriors have one of the league’s largest luxury tax bills.
  • With the Lakers out of playoff contention, they are no longer playing LeBron James in both ends of back-to-back games, relays Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. James didn’t make the trip to Utah on Wednesday, with coach Luke Walton saying he remained behind for treatment. The long-term health of the 34-year-old star will be the organization’s top priority for the rest of the season.

Southwest Notes: Brunson, Vucevic, Pelicans, Holiday

Jalen Brunson‘s play in recent weeks has made the Mavericks look even wiser for dealing second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. as part of the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

A high second-round pick, the rookie guard out of Villanova has averaged 15.8 PPG and 4.3 APG over the past 10 games for the Mavericks. Brunson, who has become a starter since the trade, signed a partially-guaranteed four-year, $6.1MM contract last summer.

“He does everything right,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Brunson. “He works at his craft and pays attention to detail. … This guy was the 33rd pick in the draft. Pretty good.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Signing Magic free agent center Nikola Vucevic would make the Mavericks an offensive powerhouse but also create defensive concerns, Townsend opines.  Dallas will have ample cap room to pursue free agents this summer and have been linked to Vucevic. “Vucevic would be a great fit in terms of being able to space the floor offensively and when you’re talking about potentially (Kristaps) Porzingis out there at the same time and Luka (Doncic), you’re talking about potentially an offensive team that’s unstoppable or about as close as you can get,” Townsend said in a podcast. “And Vucevic can score with his back to the basket he’s really rounded into an all-around player this year. Is he going to protect the rim for them? No, he’s not.”
  • Making the right lottery pick, determining the business and basketball impact of an Anthony Davis trade, figuring out whether to retain or trade Jrue Holiday and deciding whether to retool or rebuild are the biggest challenges for the Pelicans front office this summer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes. Marks takes a long look at all of these issues as part of a series that breaks down every team’s offseason moves.
  • The Pelicans might eventually shut down Holiday and E’Twaun Moore for the rest of the season, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Holiday is nursing an abdominal injury and Moore is dealing with a quad issue. Coach Alvin Gentry told Guillory the team would be  “overly cautious” during their recovery.

Los Angeles Notes: Davis, Clippers, Ingram, Zubac

The Lakers and Pelicans paused trade discussions centered around Anthony Davis once the February 7 deadline arrived, but the sides could choose to circle back and open new discussions once the regular season comes to an end.

New Orleans fired general manager Dell Demps and is expected to ramp up its search for a new GM in the coming weeks, someone who will likely assist in moving Davis to a new team this upcoming offseason.

“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” one Pelicans source told The Athletic’s Shams Charania around the trade deadline.

The Pelicans believed the Lakers were negotiating through the media, coupled with the fact that Davis’ agent Rich Paul — who also represents Lakers star LeBron James — delivered his client’s trade request just months after signing him to his agency. New Orleans’ management was clearly angered by these tactics, and it’s unclear if they’ll even consider moving Davis to Los Angeles this summer.

“I have been told that there’s no way Anthony Davis is coming here (to the Lakers), through the Pelicans,” ESPN’s Marc Spears said this week, as relayed by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “They’re just not going to do it.”

The Celtics would likely be considered front-runners to land Davis if they choose to pursue the NBA All-Star, owning a collection of young talent, future picks and promising assets to offer in a deal. Davis has averaged 26.5 points and 12.2 rebounds in 53 games this season.

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • JaMychal Green, Garrett Temple and Wilson Chandler are going through an adjustment process in their first full month with the Clippers, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. All three players were acquired by the team via trade in February, with each player holding multiple years of NBA experience.
  • Andre Ingram is once again taking the stage in his new deal with the Lakers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Ingram has spent the past 11 seasons in the NBA G League, inking a 10-day contract with Los Angeles this week after briefly shining with the team last spring. “Last year was amazing, but this year, it means a little more,” Ingram said. “This is not just an Andre Ingram Day, it’s a Los Angeles Lakers game that you need to win, and this trip will be a good one to get some wins on. So that’s really the focus, genuinely to help the team win any way I can, whatever part I play in it.”
  • The rim protection of Ivica Zubac has helped the Clippers drastically improve on defense, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Clippers acquired Zubac, an underrated two-way center, in a trade with the Lakers last month. “We have a rim-protector. Bottom line,” coach Doc Rivers said. “Trezz [Montrezl Harrell] does it at times. But Zu is a true rim-protector, and Zu has been great at it. So that’s why (we’ve improved).”

Lakers Notes: A. Davis, Deadline Deals, LeBron

Despite Jeanie Bussinsistence that the Lakers‘ reported offers for Anthony Davis last month were “fake news,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reiterates that L.A. made “several aggressive offers” for the Pelicans’ star, with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart all included in at least one proposal. However, sources told Charania that the Pelicans had no intent of moving Davis before the offseason, and especially not to the Lakers.

As we previously relayed this week, Buss and the Lakers reportedly believe that rival teams were leaking stories in order to hurt L.A.’s chemistry. However, Charania suggests that Buss may not have been aware of “every aspect of the play-by-play” of those trade discussions, and writes that the Pelicans were also frustrated by the public nature of the talks.

“We get off the phone with (the Lakers), and a minute later, offers are out there,” a Pelicans source said to Charania.

The idea that the Pelicans were leaking the trade offers to hurt the Lakers has become a popular – and somewhat logical – theory, but it hasn’t been confirmed, so the comments by Charania’s source shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It’s worth noting that most of the reports on those specific offers came from a Los Angeles-based source, the L.A. Times.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Sources tell Charania that the Lakers’ coaching staff and front office both wanted to add more shooting to the roster at the trade deadline, which was what led to the deals for Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala. Bullock has been solid, but the trade for Muscala, which cost the team Ivica Zubac, hasn’t been a success so far.
  • Speaking to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), LeBron James expanded on what he means when he says that “inexperience” has been a problem for the Lakers this season: “You have four guys in our top-eight rotation that you have to really rely on and it’s unfair to them to ask for so much when they’re in their second or third year.”
  • In a discussion on the Lakers’ season and future, a panel of ESPN.com writers primarily assigned the blame for a disappointing 2018/19 showing to the front office.