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Report: Pelicans, Brandon Ingram never seriously discussed contract extension

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Of the nine 2016 first-round picks who averaged over 10 points per game during their first three seasons, eight received a rookie-scale contract extension last offseason – Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Taurean Prince, Jaylen Brown, Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis and Pascal Siakam.

The lone exception: Brandon Ingram.

Ingram is off to an excellent start, averaging 26 points per game. He’s not just posting empty numbers for the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans. Ingram looks improved in nearly every facet of his game.

Does New Orleans regret not extending him before last month’s deadline?

Brian Windhorst on ESPN:

From what I’ve been told, there wasn’t even really significant talks about it. I think both sides realized now is not the time to make a deal because of that blood clot.

That blood clot, which sidelined Ingram the end of last season with the Lakers, is so concerning. A recurrence could end Ingram’s career. It’s hard to agree to an extension with that looming over negotiations.

So, maybe the Pelicans could’ve extended him for less money. But that would’ve been taking a huge risk.

Now, though they’ll likely have to pay up to keep him.

If Ingram stays healthy and keeps playing like this, he could draw max offer sheets this summer. He’ll stand out in a weak free-agent class.

Expect New Orleans to match. Even before taking the job, Pelicans lead executive David Griffin has consistently praised Ingram. Now, Ingram is doing more to justify the hype.

The Pelicans are probably happier to have a max-level(-ish) player on their roster rather than kicking themselves for not securing him for cheaper.

Rumor: Nets will try to trade young talent for third star

Nets Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince
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The Nets have it all on paper.

Stars (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving). Quality younger players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen). Draft picks (net even on future first-rounders).

But Brooklyn’s road from upstart contender has been rocky.

Irving tested the Nets with his moodiness before the season. He also called it “glaring” Brooklyn needed roster upgrades. The Nets fired Kenny Atkinson, who had proven adept at player development but evidently never connected enough with Durant and Irving.

How will Brooklyn take the next step?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

I believe they’ve telegraphed that they intend to try to use some of their young talent to acquire a third star along Kyrie and Durant. Now, we can get enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is. But my feel and reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what Sean Marks has said and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline, which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things, I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.

I also believe the Nets will try to trade for a third star. It’s the natural direction of a team that just signed two stars, and Irving appears antsy.

But I’d also caution: Every team wants another star. Brooklyn engaging teams about their stars before the trade deadline isn’t necessarily telling. It could be easy to overstate the significance of those conversations. It depends on their tenor.

That said, the Nets have expendable assets to make better offers than many other teams.

Dinwiddie hasn’t clicked on the court with Irving in two-point guard lineups. Best with the ball, LeVert is somewhat redundant with Durant and Irving. Allen has been repeatedly slighted in Brooklyn, most recently losing his starting job to DeAndre Jordan (Durant’s and Irving’s friend).

Yet, Dinwiddie, LeVert and Allen are all talented with potential to perform even better elsewhere. That ought to intrigue other teams.

Star trades usually require a disgruntled star. Teams rarely move a star without an internal push, including an approaching free agency. There’s no obvious target right now.

But expect the Nets to be on the prowl.

Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for July/August 2021. Will they include NBA players?

USA Basketball Olympics
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The Tokyo Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving questions about NBA players participating.

OlympicTalk:

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have been rescheduled for nearly one year later with the Olympics set for July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.

That’s typically during the NBA offseason, but the NBA is also paused due to the coronavirus. Who knows how the league’s calendar will look when play resumes?

Still, these seem like good dates for getting NBA players into the Olympics. Even if the NBA playoffs are ongoing, eliminated players could participate in the Olympics.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich still plans to coach Team USA. But, one way or another, USA Basketball should rethink its roster strategy.

Carmelo Anthony: LeBron James saved my life with swim rescue

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LeBron James sometimes appears superhuman.

His friends Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade provided another example during an Instagram Live.

Anthony:

We jumped off the boat in the Bahamas. We went – everybody swam to the little grotto over there, underneath. And we came out. All of y’all went to the boat, and – It was my fault though, because I’m still trying to see the last little bit of the barracuda, snorkeling and all that. So, it was my fault. Then, I look up. The current is taking me to the middle of the ocean, like opposite from the boat.

Wade:

We couldn’t see you.

Anthony:

I know. And it was windy. It was all type of s— was going on through my head. I’m going to be honest with you. Then, I see – I look up at the boat, and I see Bron jump off the boat like he is MacGyver.

He jumped off the boat into the water. He was bringing me back with one arm. He’s swimming with the other arm, and he’s carrying me in one arm.

Wade:

I’ve told people this story before. I said, “Listen, I’ve seen LeBron do a lot of amazing things on the court.”

Anthony:

That was special.

Wade:

Off the court, when he went and saved Melo’s life.

Anthony:

Nah, he saved my life. I can’t hold you. He saved my life. He saved my life. He saved my life. Yo Bron, I appreciate that. You saved my life that day. Them little flipper wasn’t working for me.

What a story!

Damian Lillard: I’m dropping mixtape, including Shaq feature

Damian Lillard
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Damian Lillard and Shaquille O’Neal exchanged diss tracks last fall. Shaq said it was all in good fun.

Apparently, the Trail Blazers star agrees.

Lillard on Instagram, via ESPN:

I’m going to put a little mixtape out. I don’t know exactly when. Probably in the next week-and-a-half, two weeks. I’m going to put a mixtape out. Probably like five, six songs. One of the songs is going to have something me and Shaq did. So, I think that’s going to be pretty cool. Me and Shaq connected on something. And I think that’s going to be a real, real big deal.

Lillard takes his rapping seriously. But will this be a “real, real big deal”?

In a sports world starved for content… yeah, kind of.