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Three Things to Know: Anthony Davis out at least two games after nasty fall

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Anthony Davis out at least two games after nasty fall, back injury. Anthony Davis left Staples Center Tuesday night laying down, stretched out in the back of motor carrier, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Davis said he was fine, because players always say that and think they’ll bounce back quickly, but he’s going to be out for a while.

Anthony Davis is not joining the Lakers on their upcoming two-game road trip — Dallas and Oklahoma City — and could miss more time after he injured his back on a nasty fall in the third quarter of the Lakers blowing out the Knicks. Davis went up to block a Julius Randle driving shot, the two had contact while in the air, and that spun Davis, who fell flat on his back.

Davis left the game, gingerly went back to the locker room for evaluation, and did not return. An MRI is set for Wednesday. The X-rays were negative and initial diagnosis is a sacral contusion. The sacral region is the fused bones at the bottom of the spine, what most of us consider the tailbone (doctors would say its the area just above the tailbone, to be technical).

This is something that will take time to heal, and it could be more than two games.

Davis is the Lakers’ leading scorer and rebounder, at 27.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a night. He’s also having the kind of season on the defensive end of the court that will get him consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. Which is to say he’ll be missed. The good news is: 1)The Lakers will still be a good team without Davis, they still have LeBron James; 2) the Lakers’ hot start to the season has built them a 4.5 game cushion for the top seed in the West, so a loss or two will not hurt them.

The Lakers just hope Davis is not going to be out a lot more than two games.

2) Chris Paul has been clutch for Oklahoma City this season. Chris Paul has 103 points in clutch minutes this season — the final five minutes of a game within five points — which is clear and away the most in the league. More importantly, he’s shooting an efficient 54.5 percent in those minutes and has dished out 11 assists as well. CP3 has been the best clutch player in the NBA this season.

He did it again on Tuesday night. Paul scored 20 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, lifting the Thunder to a 111-103 win against Brooklyn. This game was tied at 103-103 and CP3 broke that with consecutive jumpers (and the Thunder defense locked the Nets down the rest of the way.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 22 points for the Thunder and is the impressive young guard of the future for OKC. But Chris Paul is right now.

3) Carmelo Anthony caps 28-point night with game-winner in Toronto. Portland has continued to struggle since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony, going just 10-13 overall and in the last 10 games having a net rating of -2.1.

Then you watch him score a season-high 28 against Toronto, sparking a comeback from double-digits down in the fourth, then draining the game-winner, and you wonder how much worse it would have been if they didn’t pick him up.

Anthony has been what the Trail Blazers needed, a solid NBA player at the four, a position of need for them due to injuries. Still, Portland remains one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season at 16-22 — they had lost six-of-seven coming into this game — but in a soft bottom of the West that still has them just 1.5 games out of the playoffs. The question is, can Portland hang in the playoff race as they go through a brutal January schedule.

Report: Cavaliers players played songs like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ around John Beilein

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.

Of the six Cleveland players who publicly addressed the issue the following day, only Tristan Thompson didn’t offer clear support of his coach. The Cavs kept Beilein.

But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.

“There was no coming back from that,” he said.

Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.

“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.

If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:

  • “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
  • “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
  • “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”

…they did it wrong.

For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”

Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.

But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.

Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.

The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:

Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row

Rumor: The Cavaliers might try to flip Andre Drummond in trade at draft, or in July

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When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.

Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?

We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.

Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.

“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.

“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.

Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.

Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.


Counter-report: John Beilein will receive some of remaining salary from Cavaliers

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.

But apparently he’ll get a payout.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.

That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).

But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.

There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.

Kevin Durant not close to return, but his jumper still looks wet

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Kevin Durant will not play an NBA game this season.

His jumper, however, looks to be in midseason form. Following All-Star Weekend, a video surfaced on Instagram of Durant working out at UCLA, and his shot remains a thing of beauty. His pull-up works, too.

There’s some debate around the league about just how good 31-year-old Durant will be when he returns.

When he left he was the best player on the planet, an unstoppable scorer who could defend LeBron James in the clutch of a game, KD was a two-time defending Finals MVP at the peak of his game. Suffering a torn Achilles means he’s not going to have the same level of explosiveness, but when you’re pushing 7-foot tall (in shoes), have a high release over your head, can hit from anywhere, and have a deadly fade away, does it matter if you lose half-a-step?

With Kyrie Irving possibly done for the season in Brooklyn, these videos provide a little hope to Nets fans. Get this roster healthy next season and they can hang with anyone in the East.