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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.

Damian Lillard, tired of OKC’s talk/antics, called his shot a day before

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Oklahoma City is brash, a reflection of their best players. Russell Westbrook was talking throughout the series against Portland because, well, that’s Westbrook. Dennis Schroder was pointing at his watch — imitating Lillard time — as the Thunder won Game 3. Paul George threw down a dunk (just after the buzzer expired) rather than dribble out the end of the Thunder win.

Damian Lillard saw it all.

Inside he was fuming, in a rage that continues as he waved goodbye to the Thunder after hitting a historic jumper. He told Jason Quick of The Athletic what went through his mind as the shot fell through the net.

“Yeah,” Lillard said he thought in the moment. “What you all have to say now?”

Wednesday, Lillard posted this to Instagram.

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On to the next…

A post shared by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on

Lillard was boiling over the night before the final game of this series, at his home in Portland, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports details in a must-read piece on Lillard dropping the mic on OKC.

And what came out of Westbrook’s mouth during a few of his post-basket outbursts was the B-word, something most players wouldn’t dismiss without an altercation.

“The way I see it, it’s basketball,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “I know I ain’t no b—–ass mother——; so it doesn’t bother me. If they think I am, then we can take it off the court and find out for sure.

“I’m not out here to prove to these dudes that I’m the hardest mother—— in the league because they cussed at me on the court. But they know where I’m from and what I’m about. This Oakland. But I don’t take s— personal. My goal is to get the win.”

Lillard won. He outplayed Westbrook.

Coach Terry Stotts had pulled Lillard off the court before the end of Game 4, a 13-point Portland win on the road, and Lillard said that was probably good because if he had been on the court he might have jacked up a 30-footer at the buzzer to send a message. Instead, he waited a game. And Monday night Lillard said this:

“I’m going to get the last laugh,” he said. “I promise you that.”

Drop. The. Mic.

Paul George says he will deal with shoulder issues this summer, come back healthy

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Paul George averaged 28.6 points per game against Portland in the first round, but he wasn’t his mid-season efficient self, shooting 31.9 percent from three, where he took 46.5 percent of his attempts. George tried to make up for it by attacking the rim and drawing fouls, and he averaged almost 10 shots from the charity stripe a game (9.8, which boosted his true shooting percentage to an impressive 58.3).

OKC needed more of George and less of Russell Westbrook settling for jumpers, but George’s jump shot just was not going down at the rate it did the first half of the season.

How much of that was his shoulder problems? George admitted that four days before the playoffs started he couldn’t lift his hand over his head he was in so much pain. George said it wasn’t an issue in the playoffs, but nobody really believed him.

George said postgame he would get his shoulder healthy this summer, but dodged the surgery question, via Royce Young of ESPN.

Whatever he does — rest, therapy, surgery, going to Lourdes and getting water on it — George needs to get healthy because his efficiency is critical if Oklahoma City is going to get out of the first round of the playoffs. It would help if Sam Presti and company can add some shooting around him and Russell Westbrook (easier said than done with their tight cap situation).

Is D’Angelo Russell worth a $27 million max contract? Will he get it?

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D'Angelo Russell had a breakthrough year for the Brooklyn Nets.

He was an All-Star in his fourth NBA season, averaging 21.1 points and seven assists per game, and a lot of the jump came because his shooting improved — 36.9 percent from three, and a true shooting percentage of 53.3 that’s close to the league average. His hitting floaters and jumpers opened up the rest of this game, and his confidence grew as a leader. He pushed the Nets to the playoffs, where he and his team played tough but fell short against the more talented 76ers. Russell struggled to a 3-of-16 night in the closeout game Tuesday, it was a learning experience.

This summer Russell is a restricted free agent. Brooklyn wants to keep him… but for $27 million? That’s his starting salary at the max. Brian Lewis of the New York Post said that’s what Russell wants.

But he’s got a $21.1 million cap hold, and could get a max offer from a point guard-hungry team. That would be $27 million, which league sources have intimated is what Russell wants. The Nets haven’t shown themselves to being convinced he’s worth that much, and could well let the market decide.

The Nets have the right to match any offer, but would they go to the max to do it? League sources told me most teams see Russell as a step below max, however, if a team is trying to poach a player via restricted free agency they have to overpay to get the team with his rights to back off and not match. Ultimately, that means his agents (Austin Brown and Aaron Mintz) finding a team willing to pay the price to nab him. Depending upon how the draft lottery and the rest of free agency goes, that team may be out there.

Sean Marks and his Nets are going to have a very busy summer and Brooklyn — while it loves the team it built — may not look the same at all next season.

Kelli Tennant, Luke Walton’s accuser: “I am no longer comfortable staying silent”

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Kelli Tennant, the former reporter for the Lakers’ regional broadcast network who has stepped forward to accuse current Sacramento Kings and former Los Angeles Lakers’ coach Luke Walton of sexual assault, stepped in front of the cameras on Tuesday and stated her case.

Tennant has filed a civil suit against Walton and she, along with her attorney, conducted a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tennent said the incident happened before Walton was the Lakers’ coach, back in 2016 when he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors. She explained why it was years before she came forward, as reported by NBC 4 in Los Angeles.

“I was 25 when this first happened. As a young woman who had only been in this job for less than a year, who was incredibly grateful for where I was and had worked incredibly hard to get to that position, I was scared and I felt coming forward would jeopardize every aspect of my life,” she said.

It is not uncommon for sexual assault victims to feel powerless and not come forward for years, particularly in high-profile cases where they know the public nature and the backlash that will follow — regardless of truth — from the accusations.

“I am no longer comfortable staying silent… No woman should ever be made to feel like a victim.”

Tennant also described the alleged incident that she says took place in a Santa Monica hotel room. She said they had a professional relationship and she had met him to discuss him writing the forward to a book she was writing.

“Out of nowhere, he got on top of me and pinned me down to the bed and held my arms down, with all his weight. He kissed my neck and my face and my chest. And as I kept asking him to please stop and to get off, he laughed at me.

“I thought he was going to rape me. I was finally able to get up after what felt like forever. And I immediately jumped up to leave the room, and he came around and grabbed me from behind and again held my arms down so I could not move. And started kissing my neck again. I kept begging him to please let go and to please stop. And he continued to laugh in my ear. He finally let me go, and I got out of the room.”

Walton, through his attorney Mark Baute, has denied these allegations.

“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations. The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, and her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”

The NBA, Sacramento Kings, and Golden State Warriors all say they are investigating the allegations. Sources say the Kings and league knew nothing about the incident prior to the lawsuit being filed, and there was no record of it being brought to the Santa Monica Police Department.

The Lakers released this comment: “This alleged incident took place before Luke Walton was the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. At no time before or during his employment here was this allegation reported to the Lakers. If it had been, we would have immediately commenced an investigation and notified the NBA. Since Luke Walton is now under contract to another team, we will have no further comment.”