Associated Press

Report: Pelicans’ new front office now listening to Anthony Davis trade ideas

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Here we go again…

Except this time, things will be different on the Anthony Davis trade front. For one thing, he almost certainly will get traded.

Also, it will not be the circus it was at the trade deadline, mostly because new Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin — read: the guy with the hammer — will not let it. This will not be a negotiation conducted through the media and teams that leak things will get a cold shoulder on their next call. Finally, this time around the Pelicans have not felt blindsided by the request and the timing, this time they are prepared.

That said, the wheels of a trade have started again. New Orleans has begun to listen to offers again, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As teams continue placing calls into New Orleans, Griffin has begun listening to teams and their inquiries on Davis, league sources told The Athletic. Previously, the Pelicans had been trying to pitch Davis to stay — and now they are at least open to hearing people out.

Griffin was not taking those calls for a long time, opting instead to pitch Davis to stay and play along Zion Williamson (who the Pelicans will take with the No. 1 pick) and with things changing around the organization, such as the training staff. It was always a longshot pitch, but Griffin was going to take his swing (this also was about sending a message, first to the fan base, and second to other agents/free agents, that things are different with him running the show).

Expect a deal to go down around the draft (even if the trade can’t be executed until July 1).

The usual suspects will call. Boston has the pieces to put together the offer most executives believe would be the best, but if Kyrie Irving is leaving (as most of those same executives also expect) then will Boston put that best offer on the table? The Lakers have the same group of nice young players, plus now the No. 4 pick in the draft. The Knicks have the third pick and fewer nice young players (they are reportedly playing from behind with their offer). The Brooklyn Nets could potentially have the best offer with some good young players (Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen) and a bevy of draft picks. Other teams will at least explore the idea (Clippers are one to watch), and there are potential multi-team trades that could happen. Things are wide open. It depends on how David Griffin values certain players and picks.

Davis can be a free agent in the summer of 2020, which gives him some leverage in this trade, his agent Rich Paul can let specific teams know he would not re-sign with them to try and scare them off. Griffin and the Pelicans, however, will not care what Davis wants, they want the best package in return. What happens in 2020 is not their concern.

The Pelicans have a strong veteran point guard in Jrue Holiday, some decent role players, but mostly it’s about Zion and their cap flexibility. The Pelicans are now building for their future without Davis and whatever team can further that process along the best will get a deal done.

 

Chris Paul playing cornhole. Luka Doncic trick shots. Welcome to life in the NBA bubble.

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Teams have emerged from quarantine in the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, getting some run in on the court, and are starting to explore life in the NBA bubble.

Then they are documenting it on social media.

For example, Chris Paul and Darius Bazley played some cornhole.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic was hitting trick shots on the court.

Then Doncic and Boban Marjanovic were doing Disney Channel ads.

Complaints about the food by players have died down, in part because they are out of quarantine and get a choice of restaurants, in part because they saw the backlash and realized the complaints looked elitist. Or maybe it’s just the Mickey pancakes.

Everyone is out and exploring the campus and having fun…

Well, except for Robin Lopez, who sees no reason to leave his room.

Zion Williamson “just went back to square one” with quarantine workouts

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Zion Williamson looks cut — like he spent the entire quarantine doing workouts — and ready to be a force at the NBA restart in Orlando.

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What workouts did Zion Williamson do during the break to get that look? He took everything back down to step one and built it up again working out with his stepfather Lee Anderson, Williamson told reporters on Friday (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN):

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” Williamson said Friday. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Williamson did a little more than that. He also had approval from the league to go to the Pelicans practice facility throughout the quarantine and get treatment on his knee, the one that kept him out the first 45 games of the season. So he stayed healthy.

He also worked on other aspects of this game, such as his jump shot. Williamson took 76.7% of his shot attempts at the rim this season, and while getting to the rim is critical to his game, he’s going to have confidence in his shot and knock down jumpers to reach higher levels in the league.

The Pelicans enter the bubble 3.5 games back of Memphis for the eighth seed in the West, and with the softest schedule of any team in Orlando (matching their schedule before the interruption), they have a legitimate chance of forcing a two-game play-in series. It’s not easy, but there is a path to the playoffs for New Orleans (setting up a Zion vs. LeBron James first-round showdown that league broadcast partners are drooling over).

A stronger, improved Zion could help get the Pelicans there.

Paul George: “I feel great again,” says Clippers finally fully healthy

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Paul George symbolized the Clippers’ health all season long. George missed the first 11 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, then all season long it was still a lingering issue — until the suspension of play gave him time to heal.

“The whole season, all the way up until maybe a month or two ago, I had to always do shoulder rehab stuff, warming the shoulder up,” George said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “Just so much went into stuff I had to do before I actually took a foot on the floor. Now I feel great again.”

It wasn’t just Paul George, the Clippers had Kawhi Leonard managing his knee/thigh issue and an assortment of other injuries that didn’t give Doc Rivers the full arsenal at his disposal. That was until around the All-Star break — after that break Los Angeles went 7-2 with a +11.5 net rating that was best in the league by far.

The season being shut down may have halted that momentum, but it also gave a banged-up Los Angeles roster a chance to get healthy.

“For this team, man, I think our aspirations, again, this time off has given us what we needed,” George said. “We had some guys that was banged up, nagging injuries. The more time gave us more time for us to aid those injuries and to get back to 100.”

Health matters — which is why Montrez Harrell brought his own personal, portable sauna, a secret Reggie Jackson let out of the bag.

Health matters to Rivers, too, but what he wants more is that team chemistry back — and the Clippers have a long way to go on that end in Rivers’ eyes.

“This is not a normal way of starting back,” Rivers said of the mini-training camp all 22 teams at the NBA restart will get in Orlando. “Usually going into training camp, guys have been scrimmaging for three and four weeks, they’ve been playing, shooting on hoops. That’s not happening. This is a group, some of the guys have not touched a basketball or seen a gym until two weeks ago. We got a lot of work to do on both ends.”

The Clippers are not alone, every team is going to take time to find its rhythm again. Pick-and-roll combos need to get used to reading each other (and the defense) again at full speed, defensive rotations will be a step slow, and a few passes are going to head into the bench rather than the player in the corner.

When the Clippers get that rhythm back, with a healthy roster — finally — they again become a legitimate threat to win it all.

First, they just need to navigate the bubble. And maybe borrow Harrell’s sauna.

Atlanta G League affiliate promotes Tori Miller, first female GM in league

Tori Miller
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The Atlanta Hawks aren’t just talking about progress and giving Black women a chance. They are acting.

The College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G-League affiliate, has promoted Tori Miller to general manager. She is the first female GM in the G-League.

Miller, who grew up in Decatur (a city next to Atlanta), had worked for the team in Erie (when they were the Bayhawks) and followed the team with its move closer to its parent franchise. Miller served as an assistant GM last season before being promoted.

G League front office positions can be a stepping stone into an NBA front office.

The Hawks progressive move comes just as the team’s WNBA franchise, the Dream, has players trying to oust co-owner Kelly Loeffler, a Republican Georgia U.S. Senator, because she advocated against the league supporting Black Lives Matter. Loeffler has said she will not sell. It’s a problem not going away anytime soon.