Associated Press

Report: Pelicans consider multi-team deals for Anthony Davis trade to maximize return

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New Orleans only gets one shot at this.

When the team trades Anthony Davis — and expect that deal to be agreed to in advance of the NBA Draft on June 20, or that night, even if it can’t be fully executed until July 1 — they get one shot to jumpstart a roster rebuild around No. 1 pick Zion Williamson as well as point guard Jrue Holiday (who can ideally help this team push toward the playoffs next season). New team Grand Poobah David Griffin knows he needs to maximize return on any trade and he’s going to be smart about this.

Which is why he is pushing toward multi-team deals, something Adrian Wojnarowski reports at ESPN.

According to front offices who’ve engaged in conversations with Griffin, he hasn’t sounded convinced that one team is likely to fulfill his wishes for a Davis deal. To that end, Griffin has been working to find multiteam trade scenarios that could redirect assets for players or picks more preferable to the Pelicans, sources said.

For example, those sorts of scenarios could include the Lakers helping to find a team that hypothetically values Los Angeles’ young players more than New Orleans does, or New York could flip its two first future first-round picks via Dallas into players the Pelicans prefer. New Orleans seems determined to be creative in constructing a deal to maximize the return on Davis, one of the NBA’s elite talents.

The challenge with bringing in a third (or fourth) team is that every team in the trade has to feel they are getting a “win” and it’s not easy to construct deals where three teams are getting needs met.

The teams most active in talks so far are the teams we expect — the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Nets — according to the report. Boston is also engaged in the negotiations, but the question remains how many of their best young players (specifically Jayson Tatum) they would be willing to throw in now that it seems a lock Kyrie Irving leaves via free agency. Boston has to balance how much to give up in a trade vs. its chances of retaining Davis as a free agent in 2020.

All those teams — and others than the mix — want to get a deal done around the draft so they could use the presence of Davis to help lure in major free agents this summer. The Pelicans would like dealt with too so they can move on to their next phase around Williamson.

What ultimately matters in this trade is who Griffin and New Orleans value as players. Which guys do they want?

The buzz for a while has been that the Pelicans have not been as high as others on the Lakers’ young players — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma — and would want another team involved to take at least some of those players and get New Orleans players they believe will be a better fit. That said, the Lakers young players are more coveted than the Knicks group around the league. The Clippers and Nets are very interesting possibilities because of their young players (although there are reports the Clippers would not put Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a trade) but what players do the Pelicans value, and which ones not as much?

Also, after the Raptors success rolling the dice on Kawhi Leonard and Oklahoma City with Paul George, other teams could decide to roll the dice and jump into the mix.

Expect rumors to fly in the next week, but also expect Griffin to keep a lid on things and not let the trade talks become the circus that happened at the trade deadline.

Kevin Durant reverses course on championship: ‘Every day I woke up, I just felt so good about myself, so good about life’

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Following his first NBA title, Kevin Durant said, “After winning that championship (last season), I learned that much hadn’t changed. I thought it would fill a certain [void]. It didn’t.”

How does Durant now reflect on that time with the Warriors?

Durant, via J.R. Moehringer of the Wall Street Journal:

“It’s very rare in our lives when we envision and picture something and it comes together the perfect way you envision it. [Winning a title] was the only time in my life that happened, and that summer was the most exhilarating time. Every day I woke up I just felt so good about myself, so good about life.… That was a defining moment in my life—not just my basketball life.”

It’s difficult to reconcile those two quotes. I’d love to hear Durant eventually explain.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t relish the championship aftermath as much he initially expected but, looking back, now realizes how much he actually enjoyed it. The end of his time with Golden State wasn’t totally pleasant. That might have provided perspective on the better times. Or maybe the difference is simply his mood on the day of each interview.

Durant is continuing to try to find himself while in the public eye. That isn’t easy, and it’ll lead to contradictions like this along the way. I appreciate his openness, even when he’s still difficult to understand.

Jerry Colangelo: Team USA would’ve won FIBA World Cup if not for injuries

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Team USA finished seventh in the 2019 FIBA World Cup – the Americans’ worst-ever finish in a major tournament.

Why did the U.S. fare so poorly?

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had sharp words for the many stars who withdrew. But that’s not his only explanation.

Kyle Kuzma suffered an ankle injury that kept him off the roster. Jayson Tatum missed the final six games with his own ankle injury. Marcus Smart was banged up and missed time throughout the event.

Colangelo, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

“I believe that if we didn’t have those injuries, we would have won,” said Colangelo. “The injuries were just too much to absorb.”

Maybe.

Those players – especially Tatum and Smart, who occupied a roster spots – would’ve helped. But even with those two, the Americans were vulnerable. Australia beat them in an exhibition, and Turkey nearly upset them in the first round. France and Serbia clearly outplayed them in the knockout phase. Team USA just lacked its usual talent.

Perhaps more top Americans will play in the 2020 Olympics. That will make the biggest difference.

If USA Basketball had attracted more stars for the World Cup, it likely could’ve withstood a few injuries. This roster allowed little margin for error.

Jarrett Culver enlivens Timberwolves’ otherwise-quiet offseason

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Timberwolves are the only team with two max-salary players under age 29. Heck, they’re the only team with two max-salary players under age 25.

But Minnesota isn’t set.

Far from it.

Though Karl-Anthony Towns (23) is already a star and sometimes looks like a budding superstar, Andrew Wiggins (24) has stagnated on his max extension. Add expensive contracts for Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, and the Timberwolves have limited cap flexibility. With veterans too good to allow deep tanking, Minnesota also has limited means to upgrade through the draft.

New Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas was likely always bound to limit his impact this summer. Minnesota faced few clear pressing decisions. Any big moves would start the clock toward Rosas getting evaluated on his prestigious job. In one of his main decisions, Rosas retained head coach Ryan Saunders, an ownership favorite.

Yet, in this environment, Rosas still found a simple way to add a potential long-term difference maker.

The Timberwolves entered the draft with the No. 11 pick – right after a near-consensus top 10 would’ve been off the board. They left the draft with No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver.

All it took to trade up with the Suns was Dario Saric, who would’ve helped Minnesota this season but probably not enough to achieve meaningful success. He’ll become a free agent next summer and is in line for a raise the Timberwolves might not wanted to give.

Culver is not a lock to flourish in the NBA. But Minnesota had no business adding a prospect with so much potential. This was a coup.

Otherwise, the Timberwolves remained predictably quiet, tinkering on the fringe of the rotation. They added Jake Layman (three years, $11,283,255) in a sign-and-trade with the Trail Blazers. They took Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham off the hands of the hard-capped Warriors, getting cash for their trouble. They signed Noah Vonleh (one year, $2 million) and Jordan Bell (one year, minimum). They claimed Tyrone Wallace off waivers.

With their own free agents getting bigger offers, Minnesota didn’t match Tyus Jones‘ offer sheet with the Grizzlies (three years, $26,451,429) and watched Derrick Rose walk to the Pistons (two years, $15 million). For where the Timberwolves are, the far-cheaper Napier should handle backup point guard just fine.

Minnesota is methodically gaining flexibility. Teague’s contract expires next summer, Dieng’s the summer after that. The big question is how to handle Wiggins, but that will wait.

With Towns locked in the next five years, Rosas has plenty of runway before he must take off. Nabbing Culver was a heck of a way to accelerate from the gate.

Offseason grade: B-

Report: Iman Shumpert rejects offer from Rockets, who’ll have several familiar names in minicamp

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Iman Shumpert is the best free agent available.

Why hasn’t he signed yet? Apparently because he spent the offseason negotiating with the Rockets, but those talks haven’t produced a deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kelly Iko of The Athletic:

Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic:

I wonder whether Houston tried to sign Shumpert to a contract similar to Nene’s, creating another trade chip. The Rockets are close to the luxury tax and probably wouldn’t guarantee Shumpert much. It doesn’t take months to negotiate a simple minimum contract.

Shumpert (29) is a credible wing in a league starving for them. He played well for the Kings last season before getting traded to Houston, where he struggled. Other teams should be interested.

The Rockets have just nine players with guaranteed salaries. There’s plenty of room for some of these past-their-prime veterans to make the regular-season roster. It might mostly depend on which of Terrence Jones (27), Nick Young (34), Luc Mbah a Moute (33), Corey Brewer (33), Raymond Felton (35) and Thabo Sefolosha (35) are in the best shape at this stage.