Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) While Lakers will go all-in, expect Anthony Davis drama to drag out. The Lakers have learned their lesson.
When Paul George was available via trade in June of 2017, the Lakers thought he would come their way via free agency in a year so when the Pacers asked for Brandon Ingram in a deal, the Lakers said no. That was too steep a price. Which is when Oklahoma City rolled the dice — sending Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to Indy — and not only traded for George but then won him over the next season. George re-signed with the Thunder without ever meeting with the Lakers and is now having a season that will earn him a spot on a lot of MVP ballots.
With Anthony Davis the Lakers will not make that mistake again, they will go all-in before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. No hesitations.
The situation is different — now the Lakers have LeBron James — and with Davis’ agent telling New Orleans the best big man in the game will not re-sign with them and asking for a trade, the Lakers will not hold back on their offer. Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, anyone not named LeBron is available. Davis’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports (who also represents LeBron), is clearly trying to steer Davis to the Lakers: That’s why this was leaked now (Boston can’t make a deal until July 1 because of a CBA rule, leaking now gives the Lakers a window) and why it was leaked Boston is not a “top target” for Davis.
It’s not going to matter. This is going to drag out into the summer.
Unless a third team comes in hard over the top before the deadline (Houston?), sources told me the Pelicans are not going to feel pressure and rush a deal before the deadline a week from Thursday. The Pelicans even pushed back on the idea of a quick move — and at Rich Paul — in their official statement.
“Relative to specific talks of a trade, we will do this on our timeline. One that makes sense for our team and it will not be dictated by those outside of our organization. We have also requested the League to strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction.”
The Pelicans will very likely wait until at least May to see what happens in the NBA Draft Lottery — the Knicks want in on AD trade talks, and if they end up with the No. 1 overall pick (they currently have the second-worst record in the league) and the rights to Zion Williamson, things get very interesting.
Then there’s Boston. Most scouts/teams value their young players — particularly Jayson Tatum, but also Jaylen Brown — higher than the Lakers core, plus Boston has the Kings’ pick this draft and the Memphis pick (top eight protected this draft, top six in 2020, unprotected in 2021) which may be very valuable the way that franchises is headed. (What ultimately matters is how the Pelicans value the Lakers vs. Celtics assets, we don’t know that, but most teams prefer the Celtics’ package. Do you see a future All-Star in that Laker offer?)
Boston’s GM Danny Ainge is reportedly not slowed by Davis’ agent’s comments. Ainge knows if he trades for Davis, Kyrie Irving will certainly re-sign, those two have a bond. The other bit of leverage: If Davis left Boston after that as a free agent he leaves a boatload of money on the table.
What’s the motivation for New Orleans to get a deal done now, before Boston and others can make their best offer? Davis is uncomfortable? So what. He created the situation. And the Pelicans know the big Laker offer coming in the next few days will be on the table in July, too. The Lakers are all-in, they are not pulling out of this (they don’t have another option, Klay Thompson will get a max offer and stay in the Bay Area, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard aren’t interested in being in LeBron’s shadow).
The Pelicans should ignore the noise and do what is best for them. Maybe a surprise Godfather offer comes up before the trade deadline, but probably not.
Which means expect the Anthony Davis drama to drag out into the summer. He will get traded, just don’t expect it before Feb. 7.
2) Nuggets rally from 25 down midway through the third to beat Grizzlies. Just when you thought things were not going to get worse for the Grizzlies…
In the first half of this game, Memphis looked like the team it was the first weeks of the season, playing strong defense and holding Denver to just 41 points, while getting just enough offense to lead. Midway through the third quarter, the Grizzlies led by 25 and were in control… then the wheels came off. Denver cut the lead to 17 entering the fourth, then won the final quarter 35-15 to come all the way back and get the 95-92 win.
Nikola Jokic continued to play like an All-Star and had the go-ahead bucket.
Jokic should be named when the All-Star reserves are announced Thursday (coach’s vote).
3) Warriors win 11th in a row, just in case you forgot they are the league’s dominant force. There was one scary moment in Indiana for Golden State, but it had nothing to do with the score. It was when Myles Turner picked up a flagrant foul on DeMarcus Cousins in transition and Boogie — in just his fifth game back from a torn Achilles — went down awkwardly.
Cousins got up, shot the free throws, and the Warriors went on to roll the Oladipo-less Pacers 132-100. Cousins had 22 points, Stephen Curry 26. Pretty much everything the Warriors threw up went in, including when Shaun Livingston was behind the backboard.
The Warriors went 5-0 on this road trip and have won 11 in a row. Unless a contender can make an Anthony Davis trade before the Feb. 7 deadline, it’s difficult to see who is going to challenge Golden State in the postseason when they are playing like this.