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.

Watch James Harden score 55, including 10 threes, to beat Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (AP) — James Harden scored 55 points – 20 in the fourth quarter – and Russell Westbrook added 23 points as the Houston Rockets withstood an unexpected scare from Cleveland and held on for a 116-110 win Wednesday night over the free-falling Cavaliers, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15.

Harden matched Kyrie Irving‘s arena record for points in a game, and his fourth with 50 or more this season bailed out the Rockets, who allowed the Cavs to score 24 straight points in the second half.

Cleveland was still up 108-107 when Harden, who came in leading the NBA in scoring at 38 points per game, dropped a floater in the lane. After a turnover by Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson, P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Clint Capela had a dunk following another Cleveland miscue.

The inexperienced Cavs crumbled in the final minute, making three turnovers.

Capela added 13 rebounds for Houston, which figured to have an easy time with the Cavs, who are struggling under first-year coach John Beilein.

Cleveland, though, came to play and was led by rookie Kevin Porter Jr.‘s season-high 24 points. Collin Sexton added 18 and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 boards.

Harden connected on a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-2 run in the third quarter when the Rockets, who were sleepwalking through long stretches of the first half, appeared to take control.

But Houston relaxed, and Cleveland went on a jaw-dropping 24-0 run – all without Love, who was on the bench with a head laceration – over a 4:43 stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to a take a 99-88 lead on Porter’s bucket.

 

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant absolutely destroyed Aron Baynes with dunk (VIDEO)

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We may have a new Dunk of the Year.

Memphis rookie Ja Morant is an athletic freak, one confident enough in his skills to go right at a big switched onto him. Say Phoenix’s Aron Baynes. On a critical fourth-quarter possession.

RIP Aron Baynes.

Memphis won the game 115-108.

Victor Oladipo not near return to Pacers rotation

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“But he’s still a ways away.”

Those are not the words Pacers fans want to hear about Victor Oladipo. Their team is playing well — 15-9 with a top-10 defense — but they are not a real postseason threat without their best player, who is recovering from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Before the season, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he was “hopeful” Oladipo would be back in December or January.

It looks like it’s going to be the back end of that timeline. At best. From J. Michael of the Indy Star, speaking to coach Nate McMillan.

Oladipo will have to be eased back in when he does return, he’s not going too hit the ground running at 40 minutes a night.

The Pacers look like a lock playoff team in the East even without Oladipo, they can afford to bring him along slowly. The hope would be to have the All-Star up to speed and integrated into the offense when the playoffs do start. If that happens, the Pacers become that team that the elite squads want to avoid early.

Lakers outscore Magic 26-9 in the first quarter. It got uglier after that.

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As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.

Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.

What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…

Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. It’s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).

The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.

By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.