Three things to know: Draymond Green goes on a rant — and he’s right


The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every pivotal moment from the night before in one place.

1) Draymond Green goes on a rant — and he’s right

Before Golden State thrashed Cleveland Monday night, Draymond Green watched Andre Drummond — the Cavaliers starting center for most of the season — come out and warm up, then go back and put on his street clothes to watch the game. Drummond was sitting out because the Cavaliers want to trade the center and don’t want to risk him getting injured. The trade deadline is a month away, on March 25.

That pissed Draymond Green off.

After the game, he went off to the media about how players are treated by fans and the press when said players push for a trade vs. what happens when teams do the same thing.

“Because when James Harden asked for a trade and essentially dogged it … no one’s going to fight back that James was dogging it his last days in Houston. But he was castrated for wanting to go to a different team and everybody destroyed that man, and yet a team can come out and say, ‘Oh, we want to trade a guy,’ and then that guy has to go sit, and if he doesn’t stay professional then he’s a cancer, and he’s not good in someone’s locker room, and he’s the issue…

“At some point, as players, we need to be treated with the same respect and have the same rights that the team can have. Because as a player, you’re the worst person in the world when you want a different situation. But a team can say they’re trading you. And that man is to stay in shape; he is to stay professional. And if not, his career is on the line. At some point, this league has to protect the players from embarrassment like that.”

Green is right. Unquestionably.

There is a double standard. The Cavaliers all but sent out a press release saying they want to trade Drummond, but if James Harden had publicly demanded a trade he would have both been vilified and faced a massive fine from the league. Anthony Davis took a $50,000 fine because his agent said Davis wanted out of New Orleans, as Green noted. The argument that the player has a contract to honor doesn’t hold water. This is about perception and being treated fairly, not what a team is allowed to do. The double standard does exist.

Green may be right, but I doubt this ever changes. Fans will not — and probably should not — see things his way. Fans don’t want to think of the NBA as the cold business it is; they are emotionally invested in their team, their favorite player. If you’re a huge Rockets fan and Harden asks out to join a super team, yes, you’re going to see this as a betrayal of loyalty, a breaking of a bond. Same with Durant in Oklahoma City or Davis in New Orleans (or the rest of a long list). If you’re a fan of most other teams, you have to think “there but for the grace of god” because it could happen to you as well.

In the case of Drummond and Blake Griffin in Detroit, the ugly part of this is the “sit and wait” could last a month, then they will be asked to step back on the court like nothing happened. Never forget the NBA is a cold business.

2) Can Cavaliers, Pistons find new homes for Drummond, Griffin?

About those guys Green is defending…

It’s going to be a challenge for Cleveland and Detroit to find a fair trade for Drummond and Griffin, which could drag out until the deadline for both.

Both Drummond and Griffin can still provide real value on the court and help a few contenders, but the challenge is money — both players have huge contracts. Drummond is making $28.8 million in the final year of his contract and then becomes a free agent (so a team is either paying a lot to rent him for half a season, or they need to pay up and re-sign him next offseason). Griffin is making $36.6 million this season with a player option (he will pick up) for $39.9 million next season.

Toronto has already kicked the tires on a Drummond trade, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic, which makes sense as they have missed what the combination of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka gave them in the paint in recent seasons. However, the logistics of a trade like that are hard to pull off because the Raptors would have to send out more than $23 million in salary to match. Unless Toronto is sending out Kyle Lowry in the deal, which it would not, this becomes a three-or-four players for one trade, and it’s a mess. Drummond’s efficient 17.5 points a game, strong picks, and 13.5 rebounds a game — he is one of the game’s best rebounders — has real value. He can help the Raptors, it’s just hard to envision a deal getting done.

Other teams may call, but it’s the same problem – the only way to really make a Drummond trade work is to send back a worse or longer contract to Cleveland, a game the Cavaliers don’t want to play. This is not Harden in that his value on the court will bring a boatload of picks and young players back. Other teams will be looking to dump salary for Drummond, likely longer-term salary than what Drummond makes.

If no deal is found, there will be no buyout for Drummond, league sources told NBC Sport (there was buzz about the Nets wanting him off the buyout market, that’s not happening). If no trade is found, he will return to the Cleveland center rotation (with Jarrett Allen and JaVale McGee, the latter of whom could be traded as well).

Blake Griffin is going to sit out in Detroit until a trade or buyout happens. In this case, a buyout distinctly is on the table. The only question is would Griffin give up some of the money he is contractually owed to get out of Detroit and become a free agent? If so, how much?

Griffin has done an amazing job over the years of growing and expanding his game, but his body has betrayed him in recent years. Griffin has battled injuries and it has shown this season, with him averaging 12.5 points a game and shooting 36.5% overall (and 31.5% from three). Griffin is a smart player and a gifted passer, but he’s become more of a face-up, midrange shooter in recent years. After he sets a pick now what happens? He’s not the roll guy he used to be, and with those shooting percentages teams want him to pop out.

Maybe a trade comes along for Griffin, but the buyout seems more likely. Once that happens and he is a free agent, there will be interest from contenders to bring him in at the minimum (or into an exception slot the team has).

3) Lakers without Anthony Davis 2-3 weeks with calf strain, but expect it to be longer

The good news for the Lakers is this is just a calf strain. Davis had just missed a couple of games with Achilles tendinosis, and when the injury happened against Denver it looked like it could be much worse.

Davis is out and will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. Expect him to be out longer. The Lakers and Davis want to be cautious here, so don’t be surprised if he is out until after the All-Star break (at least March 10).

Davis is one of the game’s elite players and is averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for the Lakers, more importantly, the team’s offense is 7.1 per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he is one of the anchors of Los Angeles’ league-best defense.

The Lakers will miss Davis, but they will be fine. The Lakers are 21-7, sit as the two seed in the West, and are still going to win a lot of games with LeBron James and company until Davis returns. The Lakers are title favorites for a reason, but they need Davis and James at close to 100% to win another ring — this is a top-heavy roster.

The Lakers are focusing on the big picture, on games in June and July when they will need Davis. They can give up a couple in February and March to make that happen.

Paul George has to be helped off court after fourth quarter leg injury


Hopefully this is not serious, not something that changes the playoff picture in the West.

The Clippers’ Paul George went down with 4:38 left in the game Tuesday night after a collision with Lu Dort going for a rebound.

George had to be helped back to the locker room and struggled to put any weight on his leg.

After the game, Tyronn Lue said George was still being evaluated and had no update on his status. George was seen exiting the arena on the back of a cart with his right leg extended, according to the AP.

George had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists before exiting the game. On the season he is playing at an All-NBA level averaging 23.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists a game, and the Clippers are 6.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.

The Thunder went on to win 101-100 in a game filled with drama, including a technical foul for Kawhi Leonard, an ejection of Terrence Mann, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 31 points, and Lou Dort locking up Leonard in the final seconds.


Grizzlies Ja Morant: ‘My job now is… to be more responsible’


While his coach said he anticipates Ja Morant will return to the court Wednesday for the Grizzlies, Morant downplayed expectations and said things are “still in the air.”

Whether the official return is Wednesday or a few days later, Morant is back practicing with teammates and spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension. He once again was apologetic.

“I’m completely sorry for that,” Morant said, via the Associated Press. “So, you know, my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible, more smarter, and don’t cause any of that no more.”

Morant was suspended eight games by the NBA after flashing a gun in a club and broadcasting it on social media, something NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called “irresponsible” and “reckless.” Morant used that time to go into counseling at a facility in Florida but added he “never had an alcohol problem.”.

“I went there to counseling to learn how to manage stress,” Morant said. “Cope with stress in a positive way, instead of ways I’ve tried to deal with it before that caused me to make mistakes.”

Morant said that his treatment is an “ongoing process,” adding that he was getting off social media and letting his actions speak for him.

Morant and his associates had incidents before that caught the attention of people around the league — including a run-in with Indiana Pacers security — however, this incident in a Colorado club was the first one that hit him in the wallet. The suspension cost him $668,659 in game pay, plus one of his major sponsors — Powerade — pulled an ad campaign featuring him that would have run heavily during March Madness.

The biggest hit is Morant possibly missing out on an All-NBA guard spot. Morant could make $39 million more over the five-year extension that kicks in next season if he makes one of the three All-NBA teams. However, the guard spot is especially crowded with deserving players this season and this incident and the missed games do not help his cause.

Hart will be free agent this summer seeking new contract, ‘would love for it to be New York’


Josh Hart‘s play since coming to the Knicks has made him a lot of money.

Already a darling of many front offices, Hart has been a seamless fit in New York, averaging 11.1 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Tom Thibodeau, playing quality defense, and being the kind of plug-and-play wing every team can use. He’s quickly become a fan favorite in New York, but the Knicks will have to pay up to keep him. Hart has a player option for $12.9 million next season that he is widely expected to decline — there’s a lot more money and years available to him on the open market.

Hart told Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape he wants to find a home, and he hopes that it is in New York.

“I want bigger things for my wife and myself,” Hart said. “Just find a home somewhere where we are valued and really like living there. And I think that can be New York. I would love for it to be New York and hopefully the organization feels the same way. Coming up, this contract is hopefully my biggest one, one where I’m making sure my family’s fully taken care of. So, I’ve also got to take that into account, too.”

That is the polite way of saying, “I like it here but you’re not getting a discount.”

While Hart will have made a tidy $33 million in his career when this season ends, his next four-year contract will be worth more than double that amount — this is the deal that sets up generational wealth for Hart’s family. This is a business and he has to make the decision best for him, as much as he may love the Knicks.

Expect the Knicks to pay up, especially as long as Thibodeau is around. This is a deal that should come together.

But first, Hart and the Knicks are headed to the playoffs, and Madison Square Garden will be rocking. It’s going to be the kind of experience that makes a guy want to stay with a team.

Hall of Famer, Knicks legend Willis Reed dies at 80


Willis Reed, the legendary Knicks’ center whose dramatic entrance onto the Madison Square Garden floor minutes before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals sparked the team to its first title, has died at the age of 80.

The National Basketball Retired Players Association announced Reed’s passing. While no cause of death was announced, it was known Reed had been in poor health for some time.

“Willis Reed was the ultimate team player and consummate leader,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “My earliest and fondest memories of NBA basketball are of watching Willis, who embodied the winning spirit that defined the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 1970s. He played the game with remarkable passion and determination, and his inspiring comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals remains one of the most iconic moments in all of sports.

“As a league MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP and member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, Willis was a decorated player who took great pride in his consistency. Following his playing career, Willis mentored the next generation as a coach, team executive and proud HBCU alumnus. We send our deepest condolences to Willis’ wife, Gale, his family, and many friends and fans.”

Reed had an amazing career — highlighted by the two NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards, plus being a seven-time All-Star — but he is best remembered for a legendary 1969-70 season. That year he became the first player to sweep the regular season, All-Star Game and NBA Finals MVP awards.

However, it was him walking out on the court for Game 7 of the Finals in 1970 — after he suffered a thigh injury in Game 5 and had to miss Game 6 of the series, and the Knicks had no answer for the Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain without him — that became the moment of legend. Reed scored four early points that game, and while he was limited the rest of the way he sparked the team to its first title (Walt Frazier’s 36 points and 19 assists had something to do with the win, too).

Reed was born in 1942 in Hico, Louisiana, and stayed in the state through college, leading Grambling State to the 1961 NAIA title. Considered an undersized center at 6’9 “, teams quickly learned he played much bigger than that as he went on to win the 1965 Rookie of the Year award.

Reed averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds a season over the course of his career, and he had his No.19 retired by the Knicks. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.