Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis Lobbying Jrue Holiday To Re-Sign With Pelicans

Anthony Davis reiterated this week that he has no plans to leave the Pelicans, and now that he’s settling in for a long-term stay in New Orleans, the former No. 1 overall pick is working on making sure one of his most talented teammates sticks around in a while. As ESPN’s Marc Stein writes, Davis said on Thursday that he intends to be “very involved” in trying to persuade Jrue Holiday to re-sign with the Pelicans this summer.

“I’m doing that right now,” Davis said. “I talk to Jrue all the time. He’ll make his own decisions, but of course we like him here. … We need him to continue to play well and then, at the end of the season, hopefully he decides to re-sign with us.”

Although the Pelicans have had a disappointing season overall, they’ve played much better when Holiday has been in the lineup, going 21-21 with him and 2-13 without him. A .500 record for the season would put New Orleans in playoff position in the Western Conference, but currently the club is vying with a handful of teams for the No. 8 seed.

Unlike Davis, who is under team control through at least the 2019/20 season, Holiday will have the opportunity to hit the open market this July, and could decide to join a new team at that point. While it’s a little early to identify a list of potential suitors for the veteran point guard, the Sixers are believed to be interested in reacquiring him, and Philadelphia should have a good chunk of cap room available in the offseason. Our list of 2017 free agents by position features several intriguing point guards, though marquee players like Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, and Kyle Lowry are considered very unlikely to change teams.

Holiday, 26, is enjoying one of this best seasons as a pro in 2016/17, shooting a career-high 46.8% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range. He’s also averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.5 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 42 games.

Anthony Davis: ‘I Don’t Plan On Leaving’ Pelicans

It has been another disappointing season so far for the Pelicans, who remain in the hunt for the No. 8 seed in the West but are currently just 22-34, 12th in the conference. Still, despite the fact that the team appears headed for its fourth losing season in five years since drafting Anthony Davis, the former No. 1 pick told reporters on Tuesday that he has no desire to leave New Orleans.

“I don’t plan on leaving, so make sure you write that down,” Davis said when asked about trade speculation, per Jeff Duncan of The New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Davis’ stance, which he has expressed in the past, doesn’t come as a real shock. He’s in the first year of a long-term contract, which means he won’t be eligible for free agency until at least 2020, and the Pelicans have never expressed any desire to move him. If a star player wants a change of scenery, he could put pressure on his team by privately or publicly expressing his dissatisfaction, but Davis hasn’t done that. He suggested on Tuesday’s conference call that he remains confident in New Orleans’ ability to contend.

“We’ve got to find a way to keep fighting,” Davis said. “We have a team that is able to compete for the playoffs. We showed that a couple of times this year (in January wins against the Cavaliers and Spurs). We feel we are just as good as any other team in this league. We just need to find a way to stay a little more healthy and be a little more consistent.”

Even though they’re currently 12 games below .500, the Pelicans appear to be prepared to buy, rather than sell, at next week’s trade deadline. Recent reports have indicated that they’re eyeing players like Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez as they dangle their 2018 first-round pick in search of a center to complement Davis in the frontcourt. For his part, Davis says he’s not lobbying the team to make a move.

“That’s up to the front office,” Davis said. “Whatever the front office tries to do, they come to me and ask me my opinion. But right now I’m just trying to help the team win and do my job.”

Kennedy’s Latest: Suns, Collison, Thunder, Pacers

The Suns would like to package their young players and draft picks in order to bring a star to Phoenix, Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes. Executives around the league tell Kennedy that they expect the Suns to continue their rebuild and trade away some of their veterans should they not be able to land a star player.

Here’s more from Kennedy’s piece:

  • The Kings have made several players available, including Darren Collison. The point guard, who will be a free agent after the season, has seen an expanded role on the team since Rudy Gay injured his Achilles, as I wrote in this week’s Fantasy Hoops.
  • It’s unclear whether the Thunder will be buyers or sellers at the deadline, but they are expected to be active. “They will do something, one way or the other. They won’t stand pat,” one anonymous GM told Kennedy.
  • The Pacers are willing to trade anyone on the roster with the exception being Paul George, Kennedy reports.
  • The Carmelo Anthony-to-Cleveland trade talks were “overblown,” Kennedy adds. The Cavs are still looking for outside help, as they are reportedly in trade discussions with several teams.
  • Anthony Davis isn’t going anywhere and Jrue Holiday is unlikely to be traded, but anyone else on the Pelicans‘ roster is on the table in trade talks, according to Kennedy.
  • Serge Ibaka was traded to the Raptors earlier today and a source tells Kennedy that Toronto was his preferred destination.

Westbrook Tops Snub List Among All-Star Starters

Triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, the league’s leading scorer, will not be among the Western Conference starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans. The league’s Twitter feed unveiled the starters for each conference, and the Thunder superstar lost out in the balloting to Stephen Curry and James Harden (Twitter links).

As ESPN.com’s Rachel Nichols points out, the fan voting counts for 50%, while the players’ votes weigh in at 25%, as does the media vote under the revised system. According to NBC’s Kurt Helin, Westbrook missed out because the fans had him third among Western Conference guards behind Curry and Harden.

Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant will comprise the starting frontcourt for the West.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler and LeBron James were selected as the frontcourt starters for the Eastern Conference. DeMar DeRozan and Kyrie Irving were chosen as the starting backcourt.

It’s a breakthrough for Antetokounmpo, who will be making his first All-Star appearance. Arguably the biggest snub on the Eastern Conference side was Celtics point man Isaiah Thomas, the fourth-leading scorer in the league and the conference’s top scorer.

Do you think Westbrook should have garnered a starting spot ahead of Curry or Harden? Besides Westbrook, which other player has the biggest beef about failing to land a starting spot in the league’s annual showcase event? Take to the comments section to share your thoughts.

Lowe’s Latest: Barnes, Howard, Evans

Zach Lowe of ESPN.com examines the Pelicans‘ roster building strategy and cautions that the team doesn’t have much time to build a championship roster around Anthony Davis in his latest piece. It’s is packed full of noteworthy trade rumors and tidbits, including the story we passed along earlier today about how the Sixers will take a “hard look” at Jrue Holiday in free agency.

Here are more highlights from the piece:

  • The Pelicans considered making a sizable offer to Harrison Barnes in free agency before deciding to spend their available cap space on multiple players, sources tell Lowe. The scribe adds that Barnes would have considered New Orleans had the team contacted him.
  • The Hawks and Pelicans had exploratory talks about a Dwight Howard deal a couple weeks ago, but that was before Atlanta pulled all of its players off the trade market. Lowe notes that it’s unclear how interested New Orleans was in the deal and adds that there was not unanimous support to acquire Howard within the organization.
  • If the Pelicans decide to shake up the front office at the end of the season, Danny Ferry, who is currently serving in an advisory role with the team, is not likely to take over GM duties, sources tell Lowe.
  • Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday will both be free agents this offseason and Lowe notes that it will be hard for the Pelicans to keep both. The scribe adds that retaining Holiday remains New Orleans’ higher priority.

And-Ones: Davis, Harris, Blair, Bentil

Anthony Davis left today’s game versus the Pacers after injuring his right hip and left thumb. The X-rays he received on both areas came back negative, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Davis hurt his left hip last week against the Knicks, which forced him to miss the ensuing contest against the Nets. The Pelicans won’t play again until Wednesday, so the team will have a couple of days to evaluate Davis’ latest ailment. The big man has only missed three games this season, though he missed parts of six other contests because of various injuries.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Gary Harris injured his right ankle today and he’s not expected to play on Tuesday when the Nuggets take on the Lakers, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. Injuries have prevented Harris from suiting up in 21 of the team’s 38 games this season.
  • The Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Mavs, have acquired DeJuan Blair, according to Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). Blair played for the Wizards last season before the team traded him to the Suns in the Markieff Morris deal. Phoenix waived the power forward just days after the trade.
  • Ben Bentil has rejoined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, Reichert reports (Twitter link). Bentil played for the Mad Ants earlier in the season before taking a deal in China.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Gordon, Rockets, Mavs

Fans of the Celtics and other NBA clubs shouldn’t waste their time pining for Anthony Davis, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. As Bulpett details, Davis is under contract with the Pelicans through at least 2020, and there’s no chance the team will consider moving him anytime soon — in fact, Alvin Gentry laughed at the idea.

“Let me tell you, I learned a long time ago — and this is my 28th year in the league — that you don’t trade great for good, no matter how many you get,” said the Pelicans’ head coach. “Having one great player really makes your team better than having three good players. … We love what we have in him, and it’s just a matter of time. I think if we were healthy, you would see us be a better team anyway, and we’re getting to the point where we are healthy, and we’re playing better basketball.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Eric Gordon‘s four-year, $53MM contract with the Rockets looked like a bit of a roll of the dice for the team when it was completed back in July, but Gordon’s tremendous fit in Houston has made him one of 2016’s best signings so far. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders spoke to Gordon about his new home and examines the shooting guard’s season to date.
  • The signing of Gordon was one of several offseason moves that have the Rockets looking as good as they have since Daryl Morey assumed the general manager role back in 2007. In a piece for NBA.com, TNT’s David Aldridge takes a closer look at how the system Morey envisioned for the franchise has become a reality this season, led by offseason acquisitions Gordon and Ryan Anderson, new head coach Mike D’Antoni, and MVP candidate James Harden.
  • Assuming the Mavericks remain in the lottery and land a top draft pick for 2017, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News believes the team is more likely to try to trade that selection for an established player, rather than drafting and developing a young prospect. Currently, Dallas is tied with Minnesota for the NBA’s fourth-worst record.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Motiejunas, Bertans, Bonner

Anthony Davis won’t be leaving New Orleans until at least 2020, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics may dream of packaging their draft picks and young talent for an elite player, but Davis is apprently not an option. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry made that clear when asked about the possibility before the two teams met Saturday night. “Let me tell you, I learned a long time ago — and this is my 28th year in the league — that you don’t trade great for good, no matter how many you get,” Gentry said. “Having one great player really makes your team better than having three good players. And they’ve proven that. … So we love what we have in him, and it’s just a matter of time. I think if we were healthy, you would see us be a better team anyway, and we’re getting to the point where we are healthy, and we’re playing better basketball.” Davis is in the first season of a five-year, $145MM extension he signed in 2015.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • After signing contracts with the Nets and Rockets last month, Donatas Motiejunas made his season debut Saturday with the Pelicans. He played 20 minutes in a reserve role and contributed 11 points and five rebounds. “He gave us some huge minutes,” Davis told Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “He’s going to continue to get better and find his role in our system.” (Twitter link).
  • With David Lee sidelined by knee problems, Spurs rookie Davis Bertans stepped in with a season-high 21 points in Saturday’s win over the Hornets, relays Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. The Latvian power forward saw 18 minutes of playing time, which was his highest total in more than a month. “It’s basketball,” he said afterward. “I played for many years already. It’s just a regular basketball game.”
  • Coach Gregg Popovich said he was moved by the retirement video posted by longtime Spur Matt Bonner, relays Jeff McDonald of The News-Express. The 12-year veteran spent the past 10 years of his career in San Antonio. “He was a special teammate for everybody,” Popovich said. “He always gave everything that he had every night, every practice. He was a consummate pro. And on top of that, obviously his personality and humor were very much appreciated by all of us. He was super and that’s why it’s great to keep him in the family.” Bonner will begin work as a pregame and postgame analyst on Spurs broadcasts.

New York Notes: Galloway, LeVert, Porzingis

The Knicks made an effort to re-sign Langston Galloway over the summer, but the lure of returning to his home-state propelled the combo guard to join the Pelicans, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “I didn’t think I would leave [New York],’’ Galloway said. “But I had an opportunity to go home. That definitely was big, important for me and my family and wife. It’s definitely been great playing back home, loving the atmosphere New Orleans has.’’

Here’s more from the Big Apple:

  • Caris LeVert has only played 12 games this season because of a foot injury, but Nets coach Kenny Atkinson likes what he’s seeing from the rookie, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. “[LeVert’s play has been] Super positive. I just said that to our coaches, his energy, how hard he plays, how fast he is, his athleticism, how aggressive he is,” Atkinson said. “So that’s the positive we take out of [it], that he’s really starting to grow in front of our eyes. That’s good to see.”
  • Randy Foye is taking advantage of his playing opportunity this season and he credits his experience playing alongside diverse play-makers for his ability to help the Nets run an effective offense, Lewis writes in a separate piece“I played with [Blake Griffin in the past], last year being with [Russell Westbrook] and [Kevin Durant], and seeing the double team and just knowing you’ve got to have the right spacing,” Foye said. The shooting guard signed a one-year deal with Brooklyn during the offseason.
  • Kristaps Porzingis said Anthony Davis‘ game has greatly influenced his own, Berman passes along in a separate piece“Before I got to the NBA, I was watching him a lot — skinny guy coming out of college, how he was able to adjust to the NBA, at this level,” Porzingis said of Davis. “Obviously, I learned from him — even seeing defensively, able to hold guys in the post. His skill set is his, pretty all-around. He can do everything, but it was more seeing how he can adjust with his physicality.

Pelicans Notes: Asik, Ajinca, Backcourt, Evans

Centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have dropped completely out of the Pelicans rotation as the team has found success with small-ball lineups, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com reports. Asik and Ajinca have been glued to the bench the last three games while the club has reeled off four consecutive victories. Forwards Dante Cunningham and  Solomon Hill are the biggest beneficiaries of coach Alvin Gentry’s altered rotation, and their increased minutes have allowed the Pelicans to switch defensively much more easily, Verrier continues. New Orleans has the league’s 12th ­best offensive rating and fourth-best defensive rating since the shakeup earlier this week, Verrier adds. Franchise player Anthony Davis is thrilled with the new look, as he told Verrier. “When we play small it gives us an advantage on both ends of the floor.” he said.

In other developments regarding the Pelicans:

  • Gentry is enjoying the pleasant dilemma of having too many options at the guard spots, Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com writes. Gentry prefers not to have more than four backcourt players in the rotation, Eichenhofer notes. Jrue Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield are the current starters, leaving Gentry to choose from the quartet of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier for the remaining minutes. “It’s good to have the depth and have an opportunity that if things aren’t going real well, to stick another guy in and see if he has it for that night,” Gentry told Eichenhofer.
  • Evans, who can also play small forward, will see an uptick in minutes soon, according to John Reid of the New Orleans Times Picayune. Evans had been on a 15-minute per game restriction since returning from knee surgery and is still not cleared to play both games of back-to-backs, Reid continues. Gentry told Reid and other media members that his minutes would increase to 18 or 20 per game on a regular basis. Evans played 18 minutes against the Knicks on Friday. “I don’t think he’s going to go from 15 to 30,” Gentry said. “I think there’s a possibility that he could play 18 minutes or 20 minutes, that’s the natural progression that’s going to happen.”

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