The Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins (Warriors) and Rajon Rondo (Lakers) in free agency and replaced those starters with Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton.
An important question: Did those moves make New Orleans better? It’s a tough question. Cousins’ health is the biggest variable. Fit also matters. The Pelicans played well after Cousins got hurt with Nikola Mirotic as a midseason addition. It’s unclear how Randle will affect the frontcourt. Payton’s progression after four wayward years between Orlando and Phoenix will be essential in answering. So will Rondo’s regression.
Another important question: What does Anthony Davis – who will be eligible for a super-max contract extension next offseason – think of New Orleans’ summer moves?
Davis on ESPN, asked whether the Pelicans checked with him on their handling of Cousins:
They did. There’s a lot of different stories out there, but for me, there’s nothing we can do about it now. I just move forward and try to worry about the team that we have now. You can’t dwell on whether they should’ve came back or Rondo, whoever it is. You’ve just got to move forward with the team I have now and try to find a way to make the playoffs as well and make some noise. Of course it was tough, but at the same time, I’m past it. Like I said, there’s nothing we can do about it. The team kept me in the loop. Whatever happened on their end happened on both sides. And now we’re here. So, like I said, we just have to move forward and try to figure out how we can be successful with the team we’ve got now.
Davis has always been clear in his desire to win in New Orleans. I’m convinced that’s his preference.
But what if the Pelicans don’t win enough? Would he choose them or going somewhere he feels he’d win more? Davis has given clues he’d at least consider leaving.
Next offseason will be an inflection point with the super-max available.
First, New Orleans has a chance to impress Davis this season. He’s clearly not overly bitter about the Pelicans losing Cousins, whom Davis previously advocated keeping. That’s about all New Orleans could ask at this point.
But more importantly, the Pelicans need Davis to keep that positive, forward-looking attitude about them next offseason. The upcoming season could go a long way in determining whether he does.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Court records show a former Sacramento Kings top executive has agreed to plead guilty to siphoning $13.4 million from the team to buy Southern California beachfront properties.
Federal prosecutors in Sacramento, California, on Wednesday filed charges and a plea agreement signed by former chief revenue officer Jeffrey David admitting to forging the team president’s signature to divert sponsorship payments to a bank account he controlled. Court records show the properties have been sold for $14.8 million, and the team is expected to recoup the stolen funds.
David is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud and identity theft in January and faces at least two years in prison, court records show.
David’s lawyer, Mark Reichel, didn’t return a call for comment.
The Sacramento Bee first reported the plea deal Wednesday.
Dirk Nowitzki is coming back for the Dallas Mavericks.
The veteran forward has been nursing a return from ankle surgery all season long, and has yet to make his debut in 2018-19. Despite not having Nowitzki on the floor, the Mavericks have jumped out to an impressive 15-11 record with Harrison Barnes, Luka Doncic, and DeAndre Jordan leading the way.
The news was announced on social media on Thursday before the Mavericks got set to take on the Phoenix Suns.
Of course, sending Nowitzki back onto an NBA floor against Phoenix is perhaps the easiest test he could have as he comes back from an injury. The Suns are god-awful, and Nowitzki will need some time to readjust to playing at full speed (or at least at whatever speed he normally plays at).
The 40-year-old German star should be able to help the Mavericks as a bench contributor this season. Hopefully with Nowitzki on the floor Dallas can solidify their potential playoff berth.
Markelle Fultz remains away from the 76ers, getting treatment for his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome while the rest of his teammates try to adjust to playing with Jimmy Butler (which is going better for some than others).
The sense around the league is the Sixers still plan to trade Fultz, they’re just waiting for better offers to come in, the first round was very lowball.
A few teams are kicking the tires on a trade, and among them are the Pistons, reports Rod Beard of the Detroit News.
Let’s be clear, nothing is close on any Sixers trade of Fultz right now. Teams are just testing the waters.
It’s an interesting idea for Detroit, the chance to add a player who was a high draft pick — but only if they think he’s healthy and can get over his mental hurdles (his agent said there aren’t any, it’s all physical, and most of the league laughed at that). Also, the sides need to find a trade that works. Fultz, as a No. 1 pick, is not cheap, he makes $8.3 million this season and is guaranteed $9.7 next season, then $12.3 million the season after that (unless whatever team has his rights and just cuts bait on that last season).
The Pistons are flirting with the luxury tax line right now, their $123.3 million payroll is just about $500,000 below the tax line, so Detroit will not be taking on any salary in any potential trade. They also sent out last year’s first-round pick in the Blake Griffin trade, so they can’t trade this year’s, and likely would not include a pick anyway. A deal centered around Ish Smith or Langston Galloway plus Zaza Pachulia works (after Dec. 15 when Pachulia becomes available to trade). Both provide guard depth and Galloway offers Philly some shooting (34.9 percent taking 65 percent of his shots from three this season). Reggie Bullock also could be part of a trade.
There are options. Right now the Pistons are among the teams kicking the tires on a trade, but we are a long way from it actually happening.
Trail Blazers fans are off the hook.
A couple Pacers fans are also terrible at tic-tac-toe.
I can’t rule out this being staged, which is disappointing.
But if genuine – wow.