Anthony Davis

Pacific Notes: Podziemski, Green, Kuminga, Rivers, Harden

First-round pick Brandin Podziemski has been a revelation for the Warriors, quickly becoming an integral part of the team. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater details how Golden State’s front office became enamored with him and how quickly he earned a spot in the rotation.

However, the Warriors guard feels he has a much higher ceiling.

“I want to be an All-Star,” Podziemski said. “You know, (Jonathan Kuminga) has taken that next step of really being in that conversation. To see his growth just this year has been pretty special. So going into the summer after this year elevating my game to another level, doing the things that I’m deficient in now and making them as efficient as possible, I think I can get there.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • While Draymond Green contacted super-agent Rich Paul in an unsuccessful effort to get LeBron James to consider a trade from the Lakers to Golden State, Green told Warriors owner Joe Lacob to hold onto the team’s blossoming young forward in any trade discussions. “The one thing the NBA does not want to see, is Anthony Davis and Kuminga together for the next 10 years. That would be scary!” he said in an NBA on TNT interview (Twitter link).
  • Former Sixers coach Doc Rivers was consulted by the Clippers before they acquired James Harden from Philadelphia, he told Tomer Azarly of Clutch Points. Rivers has since taken over the Bucks’ head coaching job. “I was the one, obviously, they consulted,” Rivers said. “They made calls and I was one of the guys who said it would be a great deal for them because I thought he fit them better than he would fit the Sixers team. I think he’s a perfect fit there. It’s a league. We talk. They just talked, asked questions, and I was on board early.”
  • Speaking of Harden, Mark Medina of Sportsnaut.com describes how the Clippers guard has made changes to his game to fit in with his current teammates. That includes his mindset on the offensive end. “My job for this team is to touch the paint and get the shot, make the shot and make the game a lot easier for teammates,” Harden said. “Whether I have my step-back going or getting to the paint, I’m going to make a play for a teammate.”

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Longevity, Bronny, More

The Lakers may be without star forward LeBron James for their first game after the All-Star break, as he’ll be undergoing left ankle treatment this week, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. faces Golden State on Thursday.

An All-Star starter, James played 14 minutes in Sunday’s exhibition game but sat out the second half to manage the ankle injury. He missed his seventh game of the season last Wednesday, the final contest before the break.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James set a record by being named to his 20th All-Star game in 2023/24. Several young players at All-Star weekend said they were amazed by his remarkable longevity, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times, who notes that seven Rising Stars participants were born after James made his NBA debut, including Jazz rookie Keyonte George. “It’s crazy. There’s a stat when we played him the first time that he was older than our coach (Will Hardy),” George said Friday morning with a laugh. “… All the young guys coming into the league know who Bron is. To me, he’s the best that ever touched the basketball. … The main goal coming into the league is, ‘How can I stay in it for as long as possible?’ Being a good teammate, with your play. The name of the game is longevity. … I think the shot-making ability, not going to the rim all the time, get to their spots, pick them, play with a good pace. I think that helps with longevity and your body. And then it comes down to skill.
  • Appearing on TNT’s Inside the NBA before the All-Star game, James said his son, Bronny James, has yet to decide whether he’ll declare for the 2024 draft, as McMenamin of ESPN relays. Bronny is a freshman guard at USC. “It’s up to him, it’s up to the kid,” LeBron said. “We’re going to go through the whole process. He’s still in season now. He has the Pac-12 tournament coming up. … We’re going to weigh all options and we’re going to let the kid make the decision.”
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic lists five reasons to be optimistic about the Lakers down the stretch, including the new starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, James and Anthony Davis. L.A. is 8-2 when those five players have shared the court together, Buha notes, including 5-0 with them starting.

And-Ones: 2024 Olympics, NBPA Leadership, G. Hill, Driesell

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Lakers center Anthony Davis are willing to be part of the U.S. Olympic team in Paris if they receive invitations, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Reynolds talked to both players at today’s All-Star media event, and they’re excited about participating.

“My goal is to play for USA until the wheels fall off,” Haliburton said. “If I get that call to go, I’ll be there.”

Haliburton was one of the top players for Team USA at last summer’s FIBA World Cup, leading the team with 5.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game across eight contests. He also played for the U.S. in the Under-19 World Cup in 2019.

Davis won gold medals in the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Harrison Barnes and Garrett Temple have been reelected to their positions as secretary-treasurer and vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, the union announced in a press release. Their new terms will last for three years. “I’m thrilled to have Harrison and Garrett return as members of the NBPA Executive Committee,” NBPA president CJ McCollum said. “Harrison and Garrett have a wealth of knowledge and insight on our players’ experiences, and their leadership has been an invaluable resource during critical periods in our union’s history. I am excited to continue working with them in their respective roles to shape the direction of the NBPA and better serve the collective group of players.”
  • George Hill talks to Marc J. Spears of Andscape about finding peace at his Texas ranch as he waits for another NBA opportunity. Hill, who spent time with the Bucks and Pacers last season, is away from the NBA for the first time after a 15-year career. “I just had a baby boy, so it’s good being here,” he said. “But at the same time, you miss basketball and going to camp every year. So, to not finally do it this year, it’s a big crack on the head. But I’m going to just keep control of what I can control. Stay positive and have fun. You know this journey. There are opportunities to get back there. If it doesn’t, I’m OK with myself. I never beat myself up. … I don’t think I’m ever going to stop working out. I hope to get back in, God willing. And I’ll be ready when opportunity comes for sure.”
  • Long-time Maryland basketball coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell died this morning at age 92, the university announced. He ranks 15th among NCAA Division I coaches with 786 career victories and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. Our deepest condolences go out to Driesell’s family and friends.

Spurs, Lakers Leading Suitors For Trae Young?

The Hawks‘ decision to hold onto Dejounte Murray at the trade deadline has rival teams speculating that they might part with Trae Young this summer, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required). If that happens, Stein expects plenty of suitors to line up, with the Spurs and Lakers possibly leading the way.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports published a similar report in the wake of Thursday’s trade deadline and also identified San Antonio and Los Angeles as prospective suitors for Young.

There have been rumors for months that San Antonio might be a realistic location for Young, according to Stein. His ability to stretch the floor would provide more space for Victor Wembanyama to operate, and Wembanyama’s size and shot-blocking could help cover up for Young’s shortcomings on defense. Stein states that it’s “believed in some corners of the league” that Young would be interested in joining the Spurs if Atlanta decides to move him.

Stein also cites the Lakers as a potential destination, considering that Anthony Davis is a good complement for Young’s skills as well. L.A. was rumored to be among the leading contenders to acquire Murray, and general manager Rob Pelinka will have a lot more trade ammunition to work with during the offseason.

“In terms of what was available at the trade deadline, we had one first-round draft pick,” Pelinka said after this year’s deadline passed. “It was our only sort of hook to fish with. And this summer in June, at the time of the draft, we’ll have three first-round draft picks to look for deals, which I think will really unlock an access to potentially a greater or bigger swing.”

Stein points out that the Lakers aren’t completely sure about the future of LeBron James, who faces a decision on a $51.4MM player option. While it seems likely that he’ll choose to take the money, the organization is preparing for all scenarios, according to Stein, and the draft prospects of his son, USC freshman Bronny James, could enter into the equation.

Bronny is no longer considered a first-round prospect, but Stein hears that at least two teams — and possibly more — believe LeBron would considering signing with them for much less than his option figure if they were to select his son in the second round.

If that were to happen, Stein adds, the Lakers would need a marquee name like Young to take his place and Pelinka would be relieved that he held onto the 2027 first-rounder at the deadline.

Pacific Notes: LeBron, AD, Westbrook, Harden, Little, Beal

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Lakers superstar LeBron James declined to elaborate on what he meant by sending out an hourglass emoji after Tuesday’s loss to Atlanta, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

On Friday, Rich Paul, James’ agent, publicly said his most famous client won’t seek a trade and won’t be dealt ahead of the February 8 deadline.

There was no reputable reporting suggesting James would seek a trade, but there had been some speculation from fans and media members about his future, given the Lakers’ middling record (25-25) this season, his age (39), and his contract situation (he can become an unrestricted free agent this summer).

James said he hasn’t thought about whether or not he’s going to exercise his $51.4MM player option for 2024/25, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin relays.

The Lakers were without James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) and Anthony Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and left hip spasms) for Thursday’s upset victory over Boston, and both players are questionable for Saturday’s contest in New York. James, who said he was “very proud” of the team’s effort vs. the Celtics, is “hoping” to play against the Knicks.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • According to Buha, James also addressed Jarred Vanderbilt‘s foot injury, which is expected to keep him out for several weeks. “Well, honestly, obviously, we took a big hit with Vando last game,” James said. “Our team has always been constructed around how healthy we can be and how much chemistry we can put on the floor. So, obviously, that’s a big-time hit, big-time blow for us. But guys have to pick it up in his absence. If we can play some good basketball, string a couple wins together, and not be so Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on any given night, then we’ll be OK.”
  • Clippers guard Russell Westbrook reached a historic milestone in Friday’s win over Detroit, as he became just the 25th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points (Twitter link via the league). The former league MVP is also only the second player to record at least 25,000 points, 9,000 assists and 8,000 rebounds — James is the other.
  • Regarding his omission from the All-Star game, Clippers guard James Harden says he’s focused on a bigger prize, per Law Murray of The Athletic. “I’ve got bigger goals,” Harden said. “None of that — scoring titles and assists and All-Stars and MVPs — right now. I’ve done it all. I’m here for one reason. And I think everybody knows what the reason is.” Harden, of course, is looking for his first NBA championship. The 34-year-old is averaging 16.9 PPG, 8.5 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG and 0.9 BPG in 42 games for the Clips this season (34.1 MPG). He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer.
  • Suns forward Nassir Little is nonplussed by hearing his name in trade rumors, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m doing good,” Little said. “It’s a normal thing in the league. It’s been like that since I’ve gotten into the league. Your name is always going to be thrown around in trade rumors. It’s part of the business. So I don’t really be seeing it that much, but I just chill until something happens. I get a text from my agent or somebody call me in the office, I’m going to keep doing what I got to do.” Little, 23, is in the first season of a four-year, $28MM rookie scale extension.
  • Suns star Kevin Durant praised Bradley Beal‘s toughness for playing through a broken nose he sustained last week against the Pacers, Rankin tweets. He’s a soldier out there,” Durant said of Beal. “He could’ve easily took a game off in Orlando. Taken the rest of the game off in Indiana. … We’re behind him. We want him to continue to be aggressive.” Beal has missed 24 games this season due to back and ankle injuries and has struggled to get comfortable with the protective masks he’s wearing due to the nasal fracture, averaging 13.3 PPG (on .345/.125/.733 shooting), 7.0 APG and 4.5 RPG in the past four games (37.6 MPG).

Injury Notes: Stewart, Muscala, James, Davis, Williamson, Jones, Jokic

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart will be sidelined for 10-to-14 days with an ankle sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Detroit later confirmed the news via a press release.

Stewart missed Detroit’s Wednesday matchup against the Cavaliers after suffering the injury in the Sunday victory over the Thunder. The 6’8″ big man previously missed eight games in a row with a lingering toe injury. In total, he’s been unavailable for 12 games this year and will miss more with this ankle injury.

The fourth-year center is averaging 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per night while shooting 47.0% from the floor and 37.4% from beyond the arc. He has started every game but one for the Pistons this season.

We have more injury notes from around the league:

  • Stewart isn’t the only member of the Pistons dealing with an injury, as forward/center Mike Muscala exited the game against the Cavs in the first quarter. According to a release from the team, Muscala suffered a concussion and is beginning a mandated return-to-participation process that must be completed before returning to basketball activities, per the league’s concussion policy. There is no timetable for his return, according to the release.
  • Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis weren’t available for Thursday’s victory over the Celtics, according to The Orange County Register’s Khobi Price. James was listed as out with left ankle peroneal tendinopathy while Davis continues to be affected by bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and left hip spasms. “Those guys [are] dealing with two active injuries that we have been pretty much managing all year that got inflamed a little bit,” coach Darvin Ham said pregame. “Wanted to let them go through shootaround, see how it was, determined ultimately that they will be out for the night.
  • Pelicans forwards Zion Williamson (left foot bone contusion) and Herbert Jones (right adductor soreness) missed New Orleans’ Wednesday matchup against the Rockets (Twitter link). Williamson and Jones went through parts of practice on Thursday but both players, alongside Larry Nance Jr., are considered questionable to play on Friday in San Antonio, per NOLA.com’s Christian Clark (Twitter links).
  • After missing Wednesday’s contest against Oklahoma City, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is questionable for Friday’s outing versus Portland with low back pain, according to The Denver Gazette’s Vinny Benedetto (Twitter link). The injury is not expected to be a long-term issue.

2024 NBA All-Star Reserves Revealed

The 2024 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday night, according to a release from the NBA (Twitter links). Below is a rundown of the 14 players set to join the previously announced starters in the All-Star Game set in Indianapolis on Feb. 18. All-Star reserves are selected by the league’s head coaches.

Eastern Conference Reserves:

Maxey, Brunson and Banchero are first-time All-Stars. Brunson was a strong contender for a starting guard spot in the Eastern Conference, a spot that ultimately went to Bucks guard Damian Lillard. Mitchell (five), Brown (three), Adebayo (three), and Randle (three) are all multi-time selections.

As observed by ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Randle earns a $1.3MM bonus by making the All-Star Game. Though with the Knicks forward set to miss extended time, it’s likely the NBA will name an injury replacement player. Injury replacements are named by commissioner Adam Silver.

If Brown plays in 65 games by the end of the year, he’ll receive a $1.7MM bonus for his All-Star nod, according to Marks, who adds that Celtics guard Jrue Holiday had a $348K All-Star bonus that is now deemed unlikely.

Hawks guard Trae Young, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Boston’s Holiday, Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis, Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, Magic forward Franz Wagner, Bulls guard Coby White, Pacers center Myles Turner and Heat forward Jimmy Butler are among players who had cases to make the game but didn’t.

Western Conference Reserves:

Every player among the Western Conference’s reserves is now a multi-time All-Star. This is Curry’s 10th All-Star appearance, leading the group. George and Davis will be making their ninth appearances. Booker (four), Edwards (tw0), Towns (four) and Leonard (six) round out the list.

Having not been selected to the All-Star Game, Kings forward Domantas Sabonis will miss out on a $1.3MM bonus, according to Marks (Twitter link). Sabonis would regain that bonus if he’s named as an injury replacement, but none of the 12 Western All-Stars appear in danger of missing the game at this point.

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis, Rockets center Alperen Sengun, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, Wolves center Rudy Gobert, Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama, New Orleans forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, Clippers guard James Harden and Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen are among those who missed the cut in the West.

Lakers Notes: Vanderbilt, Davis, Whitmore, LeBron

Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt was ejected in the first half of the team’s Monday loss to Houston after some back and forth with Rockets forward Dillon Brooks. Vanderbilt earned his first technical foul for shoving Brooks in the chest, then picked up another technical just seconds later for jabbing a finger into the back of Brooks’ head (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report).

After the game, Vanderbilt’s teammates defended his actions, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, who notes that Brooks pushed the Lakers forward in the back as he was going airborne for a dunk a moment earlier (video link). A Lakers player also told McMenamin that Brooks called Vanderbilt a “p—y” during the exchange leading up to the ejection.

“He’s going for a wide-open dunk and (Brooks) just pushed him in the back,” Anthony Davis said. “It’s not a safe play. Guys get hurt like that. And you got to know what type of player (Brooks) is. (The referees) kind of let that just keep going on and (Brooks) kind of provoked it.

“He talks and says whatever he wants to the refs, to players and at the end of the day, we’re men. No man is going to talk towards another man the way he was talking to Vando. So, Vando did what he had to do.”

Brooks received a flagrant 1 foul later in the game for hitting LeBron James in the face as he went over his back on a rebound attempt (video link). Lakers head coach Darvin Ham suggested to reporters in his postgame media session that either that play or the earlier push on Vanderbilt could’ve warranted an ejection for the Rockets forward.

“Being competitive is one thing,” Ham said. “But … putting players at risk of injury with certain plays — I just watched it again before I came in here, (Brooks) pushes him in the back, a guy that’s in the air. Airborne, defenseless. Then Bron’s play, Bron goes to the basket and it’s a double move with his arms. One arm trying to deflect the ball and it goes back and then it goes across (James’) face. So maybe Dillon Brooks shouldn’t have been in the game, either.”

Ham added that “my hat’s off to Vando” for how he responded to Brooks’ physical play.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis has been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest vs. Atlanta, the second game of a back-to-back set for the Lakers (Twitter link via Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times). According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy and left hip spasm) said he felt “a little sore” on Monday and “couldn’t move how I usually move,” so he’ll get a night off.
  • Cam Whitmore‘s performance on Monday (20 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes) was a tough pill to swallow for the Lakers, who could’ve drafted the 19-year-old last June. Los Angeles used the No. 17 overall pick on Jalen Hood-Schifino, while Whitmore fell to the Rockets at No. 20. “The kid is going to be special, man,” Ham said of Whitmore before the game, per Buha. Ham also noted that the Lakers had a pre-draft workout with the former Villanova standout and referred to him as “another bright, young superstar that’s going to be in our league for a long time.”
  • Given LeBron James‘ age and the Lakers’ up-and-down play this season, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer posits that the two sides are facing a crossroads and explores what might be next for the franchise and for one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Davis, Vanderbilt, Trade Deadline

LeBron James added another memorable chapter to his long-running rivalry with Stephen Curry in a double-overtime thriller Saturday night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The 39-year-old James collected 20 rebounds for the first time in his career as part of a triple double that also included 36 points and 12 assists. After sinking two game-wining free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining, James reflected on his many battles with Curry, which include four NBA Finals.

“It’s been a treat to go against one of the greatest to ever play this game,” James said. “For us to continue to push each other at the state of our careers, you don’t take it for granted because you don’t know how many times you’re actually going to get the moment to actually be on the same floor with such a talent.”

Both players continue to amaze late in their careers, even though the Lakers and Warriors are struggling to reach the play-in tournament. Curry, who scored 46 points and hit a late three-pointer to give Golden State the lead, also talked about what it means to face another all-time great.

“Every year that we get to do this and go back and forth, the battles — the Finals runs, the playoff battles last year — after the horn sounded tonight there was a little laugh of, I can’t imagine a scenario where a game like tonight happens, [with] him in Season 21 and me in Year 15,” Curry said. “You look forward to the battles, but you also appreciate the mutual respect of what it takes to keep doing what you’re doing at this level. Only a few people know how hard it is. I’m happy to be in that group.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Anthony Davis had to leave Saturday’s game due to hip spasms, but he was able to return and told reporters, “I’m good,” tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Davis explained that it’s the same area of his body where he’s experienced a groin injury for most of the season.
  • Even though he came off the bench, Jarred Vanderbilt played more than 40 minutes with 14 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. According to Buha (Twitter link), coach Darvin Ham deflected a question about whether he’ll consider returning Vanderbilt to the starting lineup. “Well, right now, I’ll consider getting me something to eat, a nice glass of wine and consider sleeping very soon here,” Ham said. “Getting a good night’s sleep. No lineup questions, please.”
  • Saturday marked the opener of a six-game road trip that could determine how active the Lakers will be at the trade deadline, notes Khobi Price of The Orange County Register.

And-Ones: Watanabe, Japan, Risacher, McDonald’s All-Americans, All-Stars

Japan won its first FIBA World Cup game in 17 years in 2023, and Suns wing Yuta Watanabe was a big part of that team. Watanabe reminisced on his summer in a conversation with HoopsHype’s Sam Yip, expressing optimism for Japan’s future in basketball.

If I’m going to retire in five, six years in a realistic world, we [are probably] not going to be one of the top teams in the world in five years, but I think at least we will be good enough to compete against those great teams,” Watanabe said. “I mean we did a good job against Germany and Australia in the World Cup. We lost by 20 but we won the second half. I think in five, six years we gonna be there to compete against those teams.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • French wing Zaccharie Risacher is making a case to be one of the first players selected in the 2024 draft during a historically productive season, ESPN’s Jeremy Woo writes (ESPN+ link). Risacher boasts a mix of positional size, scoring, play-making, defense and smarts, according to Woo. His physical profile is similar to that of Shane Battier and Ziaire Williams. Woo breaks down the rest of Risacher’s game, explaining why he could go No. 1 overall and considering which teams might make sense for him.
  • The 2024 McDonald’s All-American Game roster was unveiled on ESPN on Tuesday, and it features potential 2025 No. 1 overall picks Cooper Flagg and Ace Bailey (Twitter link via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony). Kentucky commit Boogie Fland, Duke commit Isaiah Evans, Washington commit Zoom Diallo and Rutgers commit Dylan Harper are among others featured on the rosters.
  • Ahead of the All-Star starters being unveiled earlier Thursday, The Ringer’s Michael Pina broke down his official starter ballot, as well as who he thinks the reserves should be. Pina voted for Tyrese Haliburton, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, all of which mirrored the official selections. However, Pina had New York’s Jalen Brunson over Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard on his ballot. He also picked the Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard over LeBron James and Phoenix’s Kevin Durant. Check out the rest of his selections here.