Anthony Davis

Western Notes: Lakers, Barnes, Rockets, Belinelli

Two major factors related to the Anthony Davis deal will contribute to how much cap room the Lakers have available in free agency this summer. One is the timing of the trade’s completion, while the other is Davis’ trade bonus.

While we don’t yet have definitive word on when the Lakers and Pelicans will finalize the AD blockbuster, early reports suggest it will likely happen on July 6, which would cut into L.A.’s projected cap space by several million dollars. If Davis chooses not to waive his trade bonus, that would reduce the Lakers’ flexibility by about another $4MM, and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne views that as the most likely scenario, as she said on The Jump on Monday (video link).

“My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that [bonus],” Shelburne said. “He’s due the $4MM and he’s going to keep it.”

Shelburne acknowledges that “things could change” before the deal is officially completed, but if the Lakers finalize the trade on July 6 and Davis gets his $4MM trade bonus, it would leave L.A. with about $23.7MM in cap room, not nearly enough for a maximum-salary contract.

Let’s round up a few more notes and updates from around the Western Conference…

  • While Harrison Barnes will turn down his $25MM+ player option for the 2019/20 season, the Kings are confident they’ll be able to keep Barnes in the mix with a new long-term contract, a source tells James Ham of NBC Sports California.
  • Kelly Iko of the Athletic examines and downplays the rumors of discord between Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul. “If it’s the middle of September and issues aren’t resolved, then that would be different, but it’s not,” a team source told Iko. “Chris and James want to win a championship.”
  • After Spurs assistant Ettore Messina accepted a job running Olimpia Milano as their president and head coach, veteran guard Marco Belinelli was asked if he’d consider joining Messina in Italy, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Belinelli didn’t rule out the possibility down the road, but said he’d like to sign at least one more NBA contract after his deal with San Antonio expires in 2020.
  • Tony Jones and Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic dig into whether there’s a match for a Mike Conley trade between the Jazz and Grizzlies.

Latest From Charania: Davis, Beal, Irving, Conley, Suns

The Knicks discussed a trade package for Anthony Davis that included Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick and other draft compensation, but they never fully offered forward Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The Pelicans weren’t particularly high on either Knox or Robinson anyway but the Knicks were reluctant to jeopardize their future flexibility because they weren’t convinced Davis would re-sign with them.

Contrary to other reports, the Celtics were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future first-rounder owed by the Grizzlies in a trade package for Davis but didn’t want to part with both of those assets, Charania continues. Boston’s unwillingness to give up multiple major assets tipped the scale in the Lakers’ favor. The Nets also made a bid, Charania adds, but the Pelicans weren’t enamored with their available assets, especially since the Nets couldn’t include restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Here are more highlights from Charania:

  • The Rockets were willing to get involved in three-team scenarios in Davis trade talks with Clint Capela being dangled.
  • The Pelicans are monitoring the Wizards’ interest in trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
  • The Celtics and impending free agent Kyrie Irving will meet soon, possibly before the draft, to discuss his future with the organization.
  • The Grizzlies have ramped up trade talks involving point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz are the leading contenders for Conley’s services.
  • The Suns have discussed moving the No. 6 pick, as well as forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, in separate trade packages.

Rockets Plan To Keep Spending, Add Another Top Player

The Rockets are planning to keep their starting five intact and will attempt to “add a third star or a top mid-level player to our core,” GM Daryl Morey said in an ESPN Radio interview on Monday.

Reports surfaced late last month after the Rockets were eliminated by the Warriors during the conference semifinals that Morey had made available everyone on his roster with the possible exception of James Harden. Morey declared on the Golic & Wingo show that he plans to keep the core group of Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon intact while adding another impact player to the mix.

Morey says he’s been given the green light from owner Tilman Fertitta to upgrade the roster, despite major luxury tax issues. The salaries next season for the above five players alone add up to approximately $115MM.

He also believes that with significant injuries to Warriors’ stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and despite the pending trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the Rockets should be considered the Western Conference’s premier team.

“We feel like we should be the favorite in the West, and we’re going to do moves to show people that we should be the favorite in the West, and that’s going to create a little tension when we do that,” Morey said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to have at least our starting five back, which again most teams are scrambling to keep it together and we’re going to spend mid-level, we’re going to spend into the tax. We’re going to be one of the most expensive rosters, like we were last year and this year, and we’re going to be right there.”

Morey also addressed a few other issues:

  • He downplayed any disconnect between his superstar guards. An in-depth story from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon detailed the turmoil within the organization, including the tension between their two best players due to the differences in their preferred playing styles and personalities. “Two competitive superstars at that level, there’s going to be times when they are extremely competitive, extremely focused on how do we get to that next level, and when we don’t there’s going to be frustration,” Morey said.
  • He expressed optimism that the organization will reach a contract extension agreement with coach Mike D’Antoni, who is entering the final year of his deal. D’Antoni’s agent indicated a week ago that there was a lack of progress. “He’s going to be our coach next year. We’re hoping to work things out for the future right now; if we don’t, we’re going to work it out after next season,” Morey said.
  • He insisted that Paul had not asked for a trade, though his contract would be tough to move anyway. Paul has three years and approximately $124MM remaining on his deal, which includes a player option in the final season.

And-Ones: Davis, Knicks, Randle, Leonard

During the latest rounds of discussions involving a trade for Anthony Davis, the Knicks never made the Pelicans a formal offer, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

New York was undoubtedly interested in Davis, though talks were “preliminary” and “brief” since New Orleans began parsing offers a couple of weeks ago. Berman writes that the Knicks believed they could not match the Pelicans’ demands.

Davis had the Knicks on his preferred list of destinations along with the Lakers. Los Angeles ended up completing a deal with the Pelicans, sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a bounty of draft picks to New Orleans in exchange for Davis. New York couldn’t come close to that kind of offer.

“The Lakers had to get AD, otherwise it would’ve been a waste of LeBron — or whatever LeBron has left,’’ one NBA executive tells Berman.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Knicks are fans of Julius Randle and the power forward could be a fallback option if the franchise fails to land stars in free agency, Berman passes along in the same piece. Randle will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
  • Draymond Green flew to New York on Saturday to visit Kevin Durant and a source tells Berman (same piece) that the forward was visiting Durant as a friend and not as a recruiter for the Warriors.
  • The Lakers will pursue Kawhi Leonard this summer, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Los Angeles will look to add a third star to the Davis-LeBron pairing.

Nuggets Considered Anthony Davis Deal

The Nuggets weren’t one of Anthony Davis‘ preferred destinations but that didn’t stop Denver from conducting their due diligence on a potential trade, sources tell Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

The franchise came to the conclusion that Davis wouldn’t seriously consider staying in Denver long-term. Had the Nuggets had more confidence in their ability to retain Davis past the 2019/20 season, they would have been more aggressive in pursuing a trade.

The Pelicans needed Jamal Murray to be in any Davis-to-Denver deal, which was something the Nuggets were not willing to accommodate. Including Michael Porter Jr. in the deal may have also been required. Singer writes that no team could value last year’s No. 14 overall pick as much as the Nuggets since they are the only franchise that has seen him play as a professional. The league is expected to get a full look at Porter in summer league this offseason.

The Lakers could top any offer from the Nuggets or most teams because they knew Davis would want to stay with the franchise long-term. Denver couldn’t risk giving up core players for Davis regardless of how high the ceiling on a Nikola Jokic-Davis one-year run would be.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Kuzma, LeBron, Free Agents

The Lakers would have benefited by waiting longer, but it appears their deal with the Pelicans for Anthony Davis will be completed when the moratorium ends July 6, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He adds that there’s still a chance it won’t be finalized until July 30, which would enable L.A. to operate over the cap and count its No. 4 pick, which is headed to New Orleans, as salary. As Wojnarowski explains in a full story, the Lakers would have $32.5MM in cap room to chase free agents under that scenario, but only $27.8MM if the trade becomes official earlier.

That figure would be reduced even further if Davis insists on a $4MM trade kicker, which he has the option to waive. Accepting it would leave L.A. with just $23.8MM, not nearly enough to compete for an elite free agent. Wojnarowski notes that delaying the deal wouldn’t benefit the Pelicans, who would have $19MM in cap space if the trade becomes official July 6, but only $15MM if they have to wait until July 30.

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • The Pelicans wanted Kyle Kuzma to be included in the deal, but the Lakers opted to part with future first-round picks so they could keep him, according to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Kuzma, who posted an 18.7/5.5/2.5 line in his second NBA season, was among the players rumored to be on the table when the teams negotiated in February.
  • Lakers GM Rob Pelinka had to make four phone calls yesterday before Pelicans executive David Griffin responded, Turner tweets. Pelinka’s willingness to include three first-round picks turned out to be too enticing for New Orleans to pass up.
  • The Lakers’ last attempt to combine two stars failed because of a personality conflict between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, but Ben Golliver of The Washington Post doesn’t believe that will happen this time. Davis already has a good relationship with LeBron James, appearing on his HBO show “The Shop,” and James has an added incentive to make the partnership work because they share the same agent in Rich Paul.
  • The Lakers will be seeking low-cost veterans to round out their roster, which might be good news for Reggie Bullock, observes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Bullock, who was acquired from the Pistons at the trade deadline, has a cap hold of just $4.8MM. L.A. holds his full Bird rights and can exceed the cap to re-sign him.
  • If the Lakers don’t land a third star in free agency, they will likely pursue another shooter such as J.J. Redick, Seth Curry or Bojan Bogdanovic, suggests Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

Knicks Notes: Davis, Durant, Coaching Staff, Free Agency

Anthony Davis listed the Knicks as one of his preferred locations, but they “weren’t close” to landing the Pelicans star, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The front office in New Orleans wasn’t impressed with the assets that New York could offer, and a third team would have been needed to make a deal work.

The Knicks were willing to part with the No. 3 selection in this year’s draft, plus at least one of the two first-round picks they received from the Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Berman adds. However, the Pelicans don’t view any of New York’s young talent as having the potential to become top-15 players, and the Knicks wouldn’t have been willing to give up as much talent as the Lakers, who parted with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-rounders.

Berman speculates that rumors about the Knicks being a possible landing spot for Davis were being leaked by the Pelicans to drive up the asking price from L.A.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Even though Kevin Durant will miss all of next season with a ruptured Achilles, he’s still the best option for the Knicks in free agency, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Vorkunov cites a study from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton showing that players who come back from that injury have been about 6.5% less effective over the past decade. Durant at that level would still be an elite talent. “I think it’s a no-brainer,” an unidentified executive told Vorkunov. “It’d be one thing if he wasn’t skilled like he is. He’s one of the most skilled guys in the NBA.”
  • Mike Miller of the Knicks’ G League affiliate in Westchester is a candidate for a spot on David Fizdale’s staff next season, Vorkunov adds. The Knicks lost Howard Eisley, who left to join Juwan Howard at Michigan, then head video coordinator and player development coach Ross McMains left the team this week. Miller was named G League Coach of the Year in 2017/18.
  • The Knicks don’t appear to be definite front-runners for anyone on the free agent market, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. He notes that the front office has been trying to manage expectations since opening up cap room for two max offers, adding that the organization might be better off using that space to facilitate trades and acquire assets rather than making one or two splashy moves.

Latest On The Anthony Davis Trade

The addition of David Griffin in New Orleans and the lottery fortunes of both teams enabled the Lakers and Pelicans to work out an Anthony Davis trade yesterday after negotiations failed in February, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Griffin, whom the Pelicans hired in April as executive vice president of basketball operations, was “the biggest difference” this time around, a source tells Shelburne, adding that he had the freedom to “negotiate fairly and frankly.”

Although they made a show of dealing with the Lakers before the deadline, the Pelicans weren’t willing to entrust a franchise-altering deal to former GM Dell Demps, whom they were about to fire. Ownership in New Orleans resented the way the Lakers tried to force them into a deal and never gave serious consideration to any offers from L.A., Shelburne adds. Demps would only talk to former Lakers president Magic Johnson, not GM Rob Pelinka, then would write down the names being offered and leak them to the press, which led to chemistry issues in the L.A. locker room.

In addition to bringing Griffin into the equation, the situation changed when the Lakers landed the No. 4 pick in the lottery, giving them another valuable asset to include in their offer. The Pelicans might use that selection to add another top rookie to team with Zion Williamson or they might deal it to increase a haul that already includes three picks and three talented young players.

There’s more this morning on the NBA’s first blockbuster trade of the offseason:

  • Although the Lakers got the best player in the deal, they only receive a C-plus grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, while the Pelicans get an A-minus. With the Celtics refusing to part with Jayson Tatum because they weren’t sure of a long-term commitment from Davis, the return of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart plus the draft picks was the best they were going to do, Pelton contends. They already have better talent to surround Williamson with than there were able to amass around Davis. Pelton states that the Lakers had to move on Davis because they were in danger of striking out in free agency, but they gave up a lot of cost-controlled young talent and now have a top-heavy roster that will have to be filled with bargain signings.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated sees the deal as a huge win for the Lakers, who now return to relevancy after six years of missing the playoffs. LeBron James is about to turn 35 in December and L.A. was running out of time to surround him with stars. Mannix calls the deal a “career-defining moment” for Pelinka.
  • After the trade was announced, the Lakers became clear betting favorites to win next year’s title. BetOnline.ag lists them as +350, well ahead of the second-place Bucks at +700.

More On Anthony Davis-To-Lakers Trade Agreement

Just days after the NBA Finals and less than a week before the annual draft, the Pelicans and Lakers shook up the basketball world with one of the biggest blockbusters in league history. New Orleans agreed to trade disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft.

We have more details and developments regarding the trade, which can’t be made official until next month.

  • The other two first-rounders the Pelicans will receive are a top-8 protected pick in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected pick in 2024. New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and 2025, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets.
  • The Pelicans are already receiving significant interest in the fourth overall pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • Ingram is expected to get back on the court next month and be ready for training camp, according to Wojnarowski. He did not play after March 2 due to a blood clot in his right shoulder.
  • ESPN Jonathan Givony updated his mock draft in the aftermath of the deal, with Texas Tech shooting guard  Jarrett Culver going to New Orleans at No. 4, Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland heading to the Cavaliers at No. 5, North Carolina shooting guard  Coby White ticketed to the Suns at No. 6 and Virginia power forward  De’Andre Hunter winding up with the Bulls at No. 7 (Twitter link).
  • Former Lakers president Magic Johnson, who called GM Rob Pelinka a backstabber in a recent TV interview, praised his former front office partner after the deal. Johnson tweeted, “Great trade Rob Pelinka! Job well done.”
  • The Celtics’ chances of re-signing free-agent-to-be Kyrie Irving took a major hit with Davis heading to L.A. instead of Boston, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • New Orleans will have $18.8MM in cap space after the trade is finalized, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
  • LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s outspoken father, called the trade “the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life” and guarantees they won’t win another championship, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.