Five Takeaways from NBA Sunday: Anthony Davis out for season, Pelicans beat Clippers anyway

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By Sunday you’ve calmed down and realize that everybody in your office’s bracket is screwed, and you still have a chance at getting your money back. But while you focused on the college game — where the referees buy flops at an alarming rate — the NBA kept rolling. Here’s what you need to know from a Sunday around the Association.

1) Pelicans shut down Anthony Davis for the season, then go out and beat Clippers anyway. I can give you 24 million reasons Anthony Davis didn’t want the Pelicans to shut him down for the season — if his injuries cost him a spot on the All-NBA team, that’s how much money he loses when his rookie contract extension kicks in next summer and he doesn’t qualify for the “Derrick Rose rule.” Plus these surgeries — one to his knee to clean things up, one to his shoulder for a torn labrum — put in doubt his ability to play for Team USA this summer in the Rio Olympics. The Pelicans have shut him down for the season. Which is best for him long term.

Just after doing that, the Pelicans turned around and beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-105 Sunday. Jrue Holliday had 22 points, and Omer Asik had his best game of the season with 15 points and 14 rebounds, plus he played great defense on DeAndre Jordan all game. For the Clippers, a team Doc Rivers would like to fancy as contenders, they have now lost their last two games to a Memphis team with Zach Randolph and basically nobody else, and now the Pelicans without Davis. That’s not a good sign.

2) Dirk Nowitzki defies father time, drops 40 on Blazers.
Dirk Nowitzki put himself in some rarefied company on Sunday: Only four players had scored 40 points in a game at age 37 or older — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and now Nowitzki. The big German scored 40 points Sunday in Portland, doing so on 26 shots. Nowitzki was killing it from the midrange, where he was 10-of-16 for the night. He also had three threes, as well as some buckets at the rim. This game was a huge win for a Dallas team trying to make the playoffs: Dallas and Houston are tied in the seven and eight spots, with Portland just half a game ahead and Utah just one game behind in the nine seed.

3) DeMarcus Cousins with 20-20 game as Kings beat Knicks. Robin Lopez is one of the handful of guys with size to battle DeMarcus Cousins in the paint. Didn’t matter. Cousins put up numbers in Madison Square Garden with 24 points and 20 rebounds in the Kings’ 88-80 win. Despite everything else going on with the Kings, Cousins continues to put up points and just be a beast in the paint. Robin Lopez did his own damage with 23 points and 20 rebounds.

4) Kings’ Darren Collison a with a ridiculous buzzer beater. If you’re looking for the shot of the night, Sacramento’s Darren Collison has you covered with his leaping three-pointer to beat the clock.

5) Watch Bucks’ Jabari Parker get up and throw it down past Rudy Gobert. And your dunk of the day Sunday goes to Jabari Parker, who just explodes and throws it down as he slashes down the lane. Technically you could argue he dunked over Rudy Gobert, but the Utah center doesn’t have time to react and is just a spectator on the play. He dunked past Gobert, not on him. Still, an impressive throwdown.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
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Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

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The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

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There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.

LeBron tells Adam Silver he wants to own expansion team in Vegas

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The odds are good that Las Vegas will get an NBA expansion team. Eventually.

But when it happens, LeBron James wants to be in the Vegas ownership group — and he made that pitch directly to Adam Silver after the Lakers exhibition game in Sin City against the Suns on Wednesday.

“I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe. But he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players,” James said, via the Associated Press. “So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”

Silver is in the United Arab Emirates, which is hosting an exhibition game between the Bucks and Hawks this week. But LeBron doesn’t need to worry about Silver seeing this request. He probably already has.

The widely held belief around the league is that the NBA owners will not entertain expansion until a new CBA and a new television/streaming rights deal are locked in (driving up the franchise prices), things that will take a couple of years. Expansion talk may come after that, and maybe there will be two new NBA teams by the end of the decade.

“We are not discussing that at this time,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said of expansion last June. “As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it.”

If and when expansion happens, Las Vegas, along with Seattle, are the clear frontrunners to land teams. Most importantly, both cities have NBA-ready stadiums and fan bases to support the franchises, and their mayors are on board.

LeBron would be the face of an ownership group. While LeBron himself is a billionaire, Silver had called reports of a $2.5 billion expansion fee per team “low.” And that’s not including all the other start-up costs that come with a team.

But if the NBA is coming to Las Vegas, don’t be shocked if LeBron is involved.