Adam Silver: Pelicans playing Anthony Davis three quarters, sitting him in fourth ‘not a good solution’

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The Anthony Davis situation is undeniably complicated.

He requested a trade from the Pelicans. But the Celtics – the team with the best assets to offer – can’t realistically trade for him until the offseason, because both Davis and Kyrie Irving are designated rookie scale players until then. So, New Orleans kept Davis through last month’s trade deadline.

So, what happens to Davis the rest of this season?

He’s healthy and says he wants to play.

The Pelicans seemingly wanted to shut him down.

The NBA reportedly threatened to fine them if they did that.

So, the sides struck a compromise – Davis continuing to play, but seeing reduced minutes. He has played nine of the Pelicans 11 games since the deadline. He’s averaging 23 minutes per game, down from 37 before the deadline. Last night was the first time since the deadline he played at all in the fourth quarter, making a cameo to defend the final inbound pass in New Orleans’ win over the Jazz.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver at the Sloan Sports and Analytics Conference:

Some things don’t lend themselves to easy solutions. And playing him for three quarters then resting him in the fourth is not a good solution. And maybe we’ll get to a different place.

I get it. It’s a bad dynamic in New Orleans. And I hear, and people in this room are talking and writing. And it’s a bit of a mess, right?

When I hear people say, “Stay out of a team’s affairs. They should just be able to do whatever they want.” Frankly, that’s not how leagues operate. We have resting rules. We have tanking rules.

Any individual general manager or team, they’re doing everything within the rules to compete to win. And that’s fine. And sometimes, you could argue that they’re gaming the rules, and we’ve changed things, because we’ve realized they’re ahead of us or they figure things out through analytics, and we adjust. But the current set of rules, it’s their right to do whatever within the rules.

But then my job, and I think sometimes people misunderstand this – it’s obviously a zero-sum game in terms of wins and losses for our teams. So, my job is to look at all the other competition outside of the NBA.

This notion that sort of the Pelicans are just competing against the Knicks or the Lakers or the Thunder – they’re competing against every other form of entertainment out there in the world.

I look at the ratings. The interest in the team is still going to be greater with Anthony Davis on the floor than not on the floor. He is a top player in this league. People are paying to see him compete. If we had said, “Fine, somehow just shelve him, rest him going forward,” the people who are paying money to see him may say – or who thought they were paying money to see him – might say, “I want my money back now.” There’s two side of these issues.

I keep reading that it’s that we’re afraid that the union is going to challenge. I mean, honestly, at the end of the day for me, it’s less about – we work with the players association. We work with the players. It’s less to me that there’s a fear of a lawsuit. It’s that you have one of the best players in the league.

He broke our rules by publicly demanding a trade. Or his agent did and then he followed up by saying something at All-Star, which he shouldn’t have.

I’m watching their games. He’s playing, and he’s playing hard.

So, that’s the difficult dynamic we’re in right now.

Silver also brought up a hypothetical: Davis requesting a trade from the Pelicans, but doing so privately. Would New Orleans still want to mysteriously – to the public, at least – sit its best player to protect his health for an offseason trade?

It’s an apt question.

The answer: Maybe. Bad teams frequently sit helpful veterans in order to tank. The trade request adds a layer here, but the situation isn’t entirely unique. Tanking is the elephant in the room that must be addressed.

I also disagree with Silver that Davis shouldn’t have opened up about his trade request at All-Star Weekend. Davis was sharing his thoughts with fans eager to hear from him. He might have been confusing in the process, but he was generally being transparent. That’s good, not a problem. Same with Rich Paul communicating Davis’ trade request.

I agree with Silver on pushing the Pelicans to play Davis. He’s one of the NBA’s best players. Making him a healthy scratch for months would have been a black mark for the league.

I’d prefer clear rules require, or at least actually incentivize, teams to play their good players – even late in losing seasons. Silver enforcing resting rules on a case-by-case basis is problematic and too arbitrary.

But this was a case where the commissioner was right to exercise his broad power. Davis drives interest. It was important to keep him on the court.

Mostly, I appreciate Silver acknowledging the complexity of the situation. Silver even said the current, seemingly league-approved plan is “not a good solution.” It might be the best of all the bad solutions, though. Or maybe there’s a better one. It’s worth continuing to consider, and I’m impressed Silver is willing to do that openly.

I just wish he’d grant Davis and Paul the right to proceed with similar transparency.

Highlights from Japan Game: Hachimura and Wiseman put on show, plus Suga and Curry

Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards - NBA Japan Games
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The NBA preseason is officially here — and it started in Japan. The Golden State Warriors faced the Washington Wizards in front of a sold-out crowd at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. In case you didn’t wake up at 6 am Eastern to watch a meaningless preseason NBA game (and if you did, we’re worried about you), here are a few highlights and notes from the night.

• The Wizards were there because they have the biggest Japanese star in the NBA, Rui Hachimura, and he was given a chance to shine. The crowd erupted when he did anything.

• The leading scorer on the night was the Warriors James Wiseman with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, plus nine boards.

• Dunk of the game goes to Kyle Kuzma.

Stephen Curry was doing Stephen Curry things.

• Stephen Curry also met Suga of BTS and gave him some game-worn kicks. This will win Twitter for the day.

• Oh, by the way, the Warriors won 96-87. As for the level of basketball, it looked like the first preseason game after a flight halfway around the world. The teams combined to shoot 11-of-47 in the first quarter (23.4%) and both were under 40% for the game.

Klay Thompson is sitting out both Warriors games in Japan.

TRIVIA TIME: Can you name the other two players currently in the NBA born in Japan?

Cam Thomas (Yokosuka) and Yuta Watanabe (Yokohama), both of the Brooklyn Nets (Watanabe is on a training camp deal and is not expected to make the roster). Both were raised much of their lives and went to high school and college in the United States.

Thunder rookie Holmgren trying to focus on learning NBA during rehab

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren is experiencing the rehab process for the first time.

The No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA draft suffered a right foot injury during a pro-am game in August while defending as LeBron James drove to the basket on a fast break. He had surgery, and the Thunder declared him out for the season.

“I’ve never had a serious injury in my life, so I didn’t really know, I had nothing to base it off of and compare to,” Holmgren said Thursday. “So when it happened, I had to get it looked at and see how serious it was. I didn’t imagine anything like this.”

Holmgren, a versatile 7-footer who had great moments during summer league, is dealing with being sidelined as the Thunder start training camp this week.

“Definitely something that I really had to put my mind to and spend some time to think on,” he said. “And kind of come to some conclusions on things and really settle my mind so I could kind of stop focusing on what happened and focus in on what’s going to happen, what I’ve got to do to get where I need to be.”

Even without practicing, he has already left an impression on his teammates.

“He’s a great guy,” guard Lu Dort said. “I can already feel a connection with me and the rest of the team. He’s a pretty vocal guy, too. He talks a lot, and that’s good for the team.”

Holmgren said his only workout limitation is that he can’t put weight on the injured foot. So, that forces him to focus on other aspects of the game. Coach Mark Daigneault said Holmgren has been working hard on film study.

“It just comes down to putting my mental energy towards it, learning how to really be a professional in areas off the court,” Holmgren said. “I’ve dedicated so much time to really hustling at my craft on the court. Now, this event is making me step back and kind of rework how how I do things. And one of those ways is to become professional with watching film and speaking with coaches, trying to learn, watching what’s happening and really being engaged, in trying to get better with different avenues.”

Holmgren has spoken with Joel Embiid about his injury. Embiid, the reigning NBA scoring champion, was the No. 3 pick in 2014 before missing his first two seasons with foot issues.

Holmgren hopes he can recover as well as Embiid.

“What I’m trying to do right now is just kind of soak up all the knowledge of how things are done around here, how they’re going to be done going forward,” Holmgren said. “So when I’m ready to get get back in there, I can just kind of seamlessly plug myself in.”

Holmgren is expected to be ready for the start of next season. He said he’s trying to keep his thoughts positive.

“It all comes down to keeping a level head because there’s so many ups and downs,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is a down. But I’ve got to keep my head level and focus on getting better. And no matter what the circumstances are, that’s the goal.”

Daigneault believes Holmgren’s mindset will net positive results.

“We’d like him to be out here,” Daigneault said. “But since he’s not, we’re certainly going to make a lot of investments, and the thing that makes me the most optimistic about that is the approach that he takes.”

Houston acquires 2025 2nd-round pick in eight-player trade with Thunder

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski described this as a “cap-centric deal” since it helped the Thunder get around $10 million below the luxury tax, while Houston added a 2nd-round pick by taking on $1 million in cap space.

The Rockets acquired Derrick Favors, Ty Jerome, Moe Harkless, Theo Maledon and a protected 2025 2nd-round pick from the Hawks and sent David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke and Marquese Chriss to Oklahoma City.

The 2nd-rounder from Atlanta is protected 31-40, and it will become the second best 2026 2nd-round pick between the Mavericks, Thunder, and 76ers if it doesn’t convey in 2025.

A tweet from Jackson Gatlin of Locked On Rockets indicates that Houston will also receive $6.3 million in cash from the Thunder.

Previous reports indicated that Derrick Favors was unlikely to remain with the Thunder this season, while Ty Jerome wasn’t participating in training camp as his representatives worked with the team to find an exit strategy for him. Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported that Houston plans to waive Jerome. Harkless was traded for the third time this summer. He was dealt from Sacramento to Atlanta in July as part of the Kevin Huerter deal, and then was shipped to OKC for Vit Krejci earlier this week. Hopefully he’ll be able to settle in with Houston this season.

As he enters his seventh season, this will be the sixth team that Nwaba has suited up for. The journeyman has had a few solid seasons, including averaging 9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.0 steals for Houston during the 2020-21 season. Among the players in the deal, he’s the most likely candidate to carve out a role on his new team next season.

Brown, Burke, and Chriss were already traded once this summer as part of the deal that said Christian Wood to Dallas. Now, they’ll be depth pieces in Oklahoma City if the team decides to keep them around.

Daily Thunder’s beat writer Brandon Rahbar pointed out that the trade wouldn’t have been possible without the Disabled Player Exception that the Thunder received because of Chet Holmgren’s injury.

Spurs’ Josh Primo out for preseason with left knee MCL sprain

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Josh Primo is going to get his chance this season. The Spurs are rebuilding — even Gregg Popovich says not to bet on them to win the title — and Primo, entering his second season (and still 19), is one of the most promising young players on their roster, someone with the chance to be part of whatever will be built in San Antonio the future. He just needs more experience.

Unfortunately, he’s going to start this season half a step behind after missing most of training camp due to a sprained left MCL, the team announced Thursday. He is expected to return in time for the season opener, according to the team.

Promo, the No. 12 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, got into 50 games for the Spurs last season and averaged 5.8 points a game but wasn’t very efficient with his shot yet. He also spent a lot of time in the G-League (but then had to miss this past Summer League due to COVID).

With Dejounte Murray now in Atlanta, there is not only a starting spot open but also opportunities to run the offense — Primo is going to get a chance to show what he can do with that. It’s just not going to be for a little while due to his knee sprain.