Anthony Davis talks Pelican chemistry, his game and NBA 2K14

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While you were looking at Dwight Howard or Derrick Rose this preseason, the New Orleans Pelicans put together a nice little 7-1 record.

Then on opening night the Pelicans had a 16-point second half lead against the contending Pacers, a lead the more experienced Pacers were able to make evaporate behind some strong play from Paul George. Still, the Pelicans looked good.

Anthony Davis isn’t surprised his team could do all that — he liked what he saw in the preseason, he told ProBasketballTalk. The talent is there — over the summer New Orleans added an All-Star point guard in Jrue Holiday, former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, and big man Greg Stiemsma to a lineup that already had Eric Gordon and Davis (when they were healthy).

There is potential there if this group can come together.

“That’s why we took preseason so serious, you know, because we’re a very new team — Tyreke, Jrue, Greg, Jeff (Withey), Anthony Morrow — so we definitely a new team,” Davis told ProBasketballTalk. “And that’s why we had to take preseason serious — nobody had played with each other. It was a totally different thing than last year.

“I think things are coming along well. We’re getting to know the system pretty well and we’re going to be fine. I think if we continue to work hard, trust in the system, trust in each other then I think we really have a chance.”

A chance at the playoffs?

“It’s be nice, but if we get there we get there,” Davis said. “If we don’t we don’t we figure out why we didn’t get there, what happened, and fix that.”

The team is still bonding, growing together, doing it over things like dinners on the road, and playing NBA 2K14.

So who is the best 2K player on the Pelicans?

“Tyreke claims he is, but I highly doubt it,” Davis said, picking himself.

He adds that seeing himself in the game, especially 2K14 with the next gen gameplay, is still surreal.

“I still play 2K all the time, playing with all the stars you look up to — LeBron (James), Kobe (Bryant), ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony), Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, everybody you look up to and see on the cover — then me with 2K13 and 2K14 I’m playing with these guys and against these guys and it’s crazy to see yourself on the game,” Davis said. “The first time you play a 2K game you go to create a player and you create yourself, just so you can be in the game and see how you jell with the other players and stuff like that. And now when you buy the game I’m already on it.”

Davis flew under the radar last season, as much as the No. 1 overall pick who is considered a franchise changer can. He had injuries, Damian Lillard got hot and the focus of the basketball world was not New Orleans. Still he showed a very smart game, an ability to finish at the rim and draw fouls, which led to a very good 55.8 true shooting percentage.

If you watched him last season then saw him in this preseason and on opening night, you see a much improved offensive player. His face-up game got a lot better; he is more comfortable and aggressive with it and with his midrange jumper (which still needs to find its range).

That’s not an accident, he worked on it.

“I definitely have, trying to get better as a player, working on that midrange game, things in the post, that’s a couple of things I’ve been focusing on this offseason,” Davis said. “Hopefully 2K seen that and put it on the game so I can have that as one of the things I can do. That will help my rating as well.”

Got to love he wants a better rating for his work. He’s still a kid at heart… just one that is a very good basketball player who could someday lead a deeper Pelicans team a long way.

Report: Nerlens Noel switches agents in hopes of max deal with Mavericks

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Is Nerlens Noel worthy of a max contract? Not on your life.

But will he get it? That remains to be seen after reports that Noel recently switched agents from Andy Miller to Dan Fagen.

According to NBC 5 in Dallas, Noel has done just that and will be seeking a huge deal from Mark Cuban’s organization.

From NBC 5’s Newy Scruggs:

No other NBA clubs tried to sign the restricted 6-11 center. He has a one year qualifying offer of $5.8 million on the table but it’s not to his liking so he switched agents.

“We’re in a holding pattern,” is what Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told me back in July on NBC Sports Radio when I brought up the contract talks between Dallas and Noel. The NBA salary cap didn’t go up has high as many previously projected, so the summer of 2017 was not a bonanza some players hoped for.

Even with the increase in the cap, and with big contracts flying around for young talent, Noel has done nothing to prove himself worthy of an offer like that for the Dallas Mavericks. Yes, his advanced numbers from his third season in the NBA looked much better, and that was great news as young big men often take time to develop.

Yet the body of work for Noel is simply not there. Fifty games of good play over a 200 game career does not, or should not, earn you a max contract.

Then again, this could simply be Noel preying on Cuban’s need to rebuild.

With Dennis Smith Jr. at the helm, an aging Dirk Nowitzki, and the team that could soon be irrelevant in a increasingly tough Western Conference, Noel stands as a future franchise piece if he does indeed fulfill his potential.

The question now is, especially after how this summer has gone, do you pay upfront for potential talent to an extent that seems unreasonable to a fault?

I would still doubt that Noel ends up with that max contract, but some positioning here could earn him a few extra bucks.

NBA confirms Lakers under investigation for potential tampering with Paul George

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Paul George is not a member of the the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet.

The California native has one year to go on his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded there by the Indiana Pacers. Rumors have been swirling for months about whether George would stay in Indiana, a new city, or if he would bolt for his hometown in LA after the upcoming season comes to a close.

Even more rumors have said that the Lakers have felt confident enough that they are going to get George in the summer of 2018 that they weren’t urgent in trying to pick him up sooner.

Meanwhile, the NBA has confirmed that the Pacers have filed tampering charges against the Lakers, and that the league has hired an independent law firm to conduct the investigation.

From the NBA’s press release:

At the request of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers. The independent investigation is being conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting all the investigation is ongoing.

The rumor first broke this weekend when Peter Vecsey published it on his Patreon.

Magic Johnson has spoken publicly about George, explicitly stating that he knows he is not supposed to tamper with players. However, on an episode of the Jimmy Kimmel show, Johnson did say that he would give a wink to George if you happen to see him.

Via Jimmy Kimmel:

“I had to go to school. I had to go to CBA school, salary cap school and tampering school. You can’t tamper with somebody else’s player.”

“We gonna say hi because we know each other. You just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’ even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’

Punishment from tampering charges are rare in the NBA but are not unheard of. In 2013, the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings were fined for name dropping Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

According to ESPN, Johnson is at the center of the investigation for tampering with George. If evidence is found, the punishment could be significant for LA, and could include future restrictions when it comes time to acquire George.

Via ESPN:

The Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers, insisting that there is no evidence of tampering, and they expect to be cleared in the matter, a team source told ESPN.

If the league office’s probe can prove the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.

It’s still unclear at this point if anything is going to come out of this investigation, but it certainly does seem as though Los Angeles is confident that they are going to be able to sign George next summer.

LeBron James once saved someone while snorkeling with Dwyane Wade

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LeBron James is one of those guys who seems like he can do it all. He’s been league champion, league MVP, and Finals MVP. He’s an international marketing icon. He’s the best basketball player of a generation.

Apparently, he can also save people from the water like a dang superhero.

The recent article published on Vogue about James and his wife Savannah, the author shared a story told to him by Gabrielle Union, actress and wife of Dwyane Wade.

As Union tells the story, during a snorkeling trip in the Bahamas, Lebron noticed one person wasn’t back in the boat at the end of the session.

He then leapt in to bring them back.

Via Vogue:

As I prepare to say goodbye, I am reminded of a story Gabrielle Union told me about LeBron. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, with other friends and athletes, were out snorkeling in the Bahamas a few years back. Some, including Wade, were ocean-shy, city-born and not as strong at swimming as LeBron. (“LeBron, it turns out, is Aquaman!” Union says.) Eventually, the group got out in the water, though at the end of the swim, when everyone was back in the boat, LeBron took a count and noticed a man missing, immediately diving back in. “He literally brings our friend back, like something out of an episode of Baywatch,” Union says. “Because he’s that guy, and when you see that, you know he is not going to leave these at-risk kids behind or an NBA player snorkeling. He’s that guy who dives in.”

Lebron James: that dude.

Watch the 10 best plays from Andrew Wiggins’ 2016-17 season (VIDEO)

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This upcoming season will be a huge test for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.

After a couple years of steady improvement, it appeared that Wiggins started to level off in his third season. Yes, he increased his 3-point shooting percentage but dips in his free-throw rate and VORP were a tad disappointing considering his usage even as he contributed more points per-game. Many in Minnesota expected him to be a superstar, and now it’s possible he ends up simply as a perennial rotation guy.

Still, the new season for the Timberwolves should be pretty interesting as they have added new pieces to the roster, including former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler.

The video above includes 10 of Wiggins’s best plays from the 2016-17 NBA season. Hopefully Wiggins will be able to build on this type of play as the roster around him and gets better and expectations rise.