Three things to know: Does LeBron need more rest? LeBron says no.


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 key moment from the night before in one place.

1) Does LeBron James need more rest? LeBron says no.

LeBron James has played 1,120 minutes this season, third-most in the league (trailing only Julius Randle and Fred VanVleet, players both 10 years his junior). LeBron’s being asked to do this at age 36 and in his 18th NBA season — he’s already third on the all-time minutes list once you combine playoff and regular season minutes.

Monday night, LeBron played more than 43 minutes in an overtime loss to the Wizards, the Lakers’ third straight loss (all without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder, not so coincidentally).

Is it too much? Should the Lakers rest LeBron more?

LeBron shot that idea down postgame. Here’s his quote, via Mark Medina of the USA Today.

“I think this whole narrative of ‘LeBron needs more rest’ or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it’s become a lot bigger than what it actually is. I’ve never talked about it, I don’t talk about it, I don’t believe in it. We all need more rest, s***. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.

“And if I’m hurt or if I’m not feeling well, then we can look at it then. But I have nothing but honest people [advising me], but I’m also honest with myself, as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything.”

Frank Vogel would love to lower LeBron’s minutes total, maybe even discuss a night off, but that’s not where he and the Lakers are right now. Los Angeles’ offense is stumbling, and was doing so before Davis started missing time — over the last seven games the Lakers’ offense is 27th in the NBA and 5.3 points per 100 possessions off the team’s season average. Vogel and the Lakers will right the ship (although three-point shooting remains a concern), but the Lakers can’t sit LeBron right now.

Congratulations to the Wizards, who have strung together an impressive five-game win streak beating the Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, Trail Blazers, and Lakers. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook understandably get the offensive credit, but the Wizards have played strong defense of late, particularly when Robin Lopez is patrolling the paint, which has helped fuel the streak.

With this streak, the Wizards are just 1.5 games back of the East’s final play-in spot — they have hope. So stop asking about a Beal trade at the deadline. Not happening.

2) LaMelo Ball, meet Rudy Gobert

LaMelo Ball is having an impressive rookie season, but he’s still a rookie learning some lessons the hard way as he moves through the league.

For example, always be aware of where Rudy Gobert is if you’re trying to attack the rim against the Jazz.

Ball finished the night with 21 points but wasn’t efficient (8-of-20 shooting, four assists), and the Jazz pulled away in the fourth for a comfortable 129-108 win.

3) Mavericks rumored to test trade market for Kristaps Porzingis

Here’s the thing: Every GM wants to know his players’ trade value, even if he has zero intention of trading them. It’s just smart business for a GM to know how other teams perceive and value his players. There are only a handful of players where that does not apply, players who are 100% untradable and not going to move — LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and a few others.

Luka Doncic is on that list for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis is not — and he has not looked like the No. 2 star on a championship team this season. He’s been good, scoring 20.5 points and grabbing 8.2 rebounds a game, shooting 35.2% from three. However, his defense has not been great, he’s looked kind of one-dimensional, and Dallas needs to think big picture about how best to win with Luka Doncic. Porzingis can be part of that, but Dallas needs another top shot creator and more to make this all work.

So the report out there from Jake Fischer at Bleacher Report that the Mavericks have “quietly gauged the trade market for Porzingis” should not be a surprise. Dallas and front office head honcho Donnie Nelson need to consider everything, including a potential Porzingis trade. It doesn’t mean it is going to happen, but they need to consider the possibility.

It would be challenging to find a trade for the pick-and-pop big man right now. Porzingis is in the second year of a five-year max contract extension, and he is owed three-years, $105 million after this season (the last year of that is a player option at $36 million, teams have to assume he will pick that up). That’s not an easy salary to move, and Porzingis is not a guy that can be plug-and-play in every system. There would be a limited market.

Dallas is smart to test the trade waters for every player not a former EuroLeague MVP on their roster. There is still a lot of building to do around Doncic, and Porzingis ultimately may or may not be part of that future.

However, Porzingis is part of the present in Dallas, and it needs him if the team is going to climb above .500 and out of the play-in games in the West.

Celtics interim coach Mazzulla to coach Team Giannis in All-Star Game

New York Knicks (120) Vs. Boston Celtics (117) At TD Garden (OT)
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

One way to remove the “interim” tag from your coaching resume is to earn the right to coach in the All-Star Game.

Boston Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzula and his staff will coach Team Giannis in the All-Star Game this season. It became official when the 76ers fell to the Magic on Tuesday night, ensuring the Celtics would have the best record in the East by the cut-off date this Sunday.

The Celtics are 36-15 and in first place in the Eastern Conference, even though they have lost 3-of-4 (and needed overtime and a bad no-call on a LeBron James potential game-winner to get that victory). They have a top-five offense and defense in the league and have looked like the team to beat since the start of the season, even if they have had a few injuries and looked bored with the regular season of late.

Mazzulla deserves credit for helping the team move past former coach Ime Udoka was suspended due to an improper affair with a franchise employee. It could have been a distraction that blew up the Boston season, but he got them focused beyond that, and with that could get some Coach of the Year votes (in a crowded field).

First, however, he has to coach the All-Star Game.

Are Pistons going to hold on to Bojan Bodanovic into next season?

Milwaukee Bucks v Detroit Pistons
Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

For much of the run-up to the Feb. 9 trade deadline, Bojan Bogdanovic has been one of the best and most discussed players available. The 6’8″ wing who can knock down 3s and do some secondary shot creation could help a lot of teams.

One of those is the Pistons, who want to take a big step forward next season. Bogdanovic told Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype the front office spoke to him, and it doesn’t sound like he will get traded.

“Having conversations with the club, Troy [Weaver, general manager] and the owners, they assured me that we’re going to be great next year,” Bogdanovic said. “We have a lot of cap space to sign great players. We’re going to have a high pick again, so that’s going to help us a lot. We have a great young group of guys. When Cade [Cunningham] went down, that kind of hurt us big time. We were thinking that maybe we’d be fighting for the play-in tournament, but when he went down, he was our main guy. All of our offensive strategies were connected to him. When he went down, our season, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs without him.”

The Pistons reportedly have set the price for Bogdanovic at an unprotected first-round pick, which is very steep. This may simply be a case of Detroit being willing to keep Bogdanovic around if nobody wants to meet that price. They did just extend him for two years, $39.1 million and he would be the kind of professional veteran that is good to have in the locker room around a younger team.

Bogdanovic, for his part, would rather not hear the rumors.

“I heard the rumors, but I’m trying to stay away from those conversations,” Bogdanovic said. “I don’t even have any social media like Twitter. I don’t read much about that. It’s not in my control. It’s about the franchises. I’m just going to try and stay focused and play as best I can. Then, we’ll see what’s going to happen at the end of the trade deadline.”

The rumors are not going anywhere, they will stick around through the trade deadline. Bogdanovic may as well.

Report: Mavericks looking for another star at trade deadline. Good luck with that.

Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Two things are true. First, the painted-over mural was right, the Dallas Mavericks desperately need a second star to go next to Luka Dončić. Second, they have backed themselves into a corner without the trade assets or cap space to easily make that happen.

It may be a longshot, but the Mavericks are open to trading anyone but Dončić to find that second star at the deadline, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News reminds us.

It shouldn’t be a surprise Dallas is open to this, of course they are.

The challenges start with, what star is available? The best player maybe on the market right now is John Collins or Bojan Bogdanovic, and while both would help the Mavericks neither is changing the team’s fortunes the way they would hope.

If Toronto decides to become sellers things get interesting. However, as of the latest reports, they are on the fence and telling teams they are waiting to decide what they will do at the deadline (sell, stand pat, or become buyers). Fred VanVleet could be available, and would essentially be a Jalen Brunson replacement, certainly a step up from where the Mavericks are currently. However, the Clippers and others could drive up the asking price, plus the Mavericks would have to step up and pay him this summer, VanVleet is expected to opt out of his $22.8 million contract. O.G. Anunoby would be a great fit next to Dončić, but he is not a star, he is more of a high-level role player.

Pascal Siakam could be that second star next to Dončić, a 6’8″ wing who can finish at the rim, shoot 3s, and would be a great secondary shot creator. It’s a good fit. Siakam is not an elite defender — Dallas would want some 3&D guys added to the roster — but he would be the kind of addition Dallas needs.

Dallas can offer its three first-round picks starting in 2024, but is some combination of those picks and Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood and Dorian Finney-Smith going to entice the Raptors? They will look for a massive package for Siakam and likely see better offers than Dallas can construct.

It may not be easy to pull off, and likely will wait until the offseason (at the earliest), but know the Mavericks are serious about a second star.

Knicks reportedly very interested in Anunoby, if Raptors make him available

Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors are the one team that could move this trade deadline from a dud to shaking up the playoff race. There are 29 other GMs waiting to see what Massai Ujiri will do, and when they called, they’ve been told “the franchise will make a decision about being a buyer or seller – or standing pat – near deadline day,” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

If Toronto does decide to trade a player beyond the expected Gary Trent Jr., then the Knicks want to be at the front of the line for defensive wing O.G. Anunoby, Charania reports.

The Knicks and Suns are among the interested suitors in Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby, sources say. New York has shown a willingness to offer multiple first-round picks for Anunoby, according to those sources. The Suns, meanwhile, have control of all of their first-round picks — eight in total —through 2030. SNY first reported the Knicks’ interest last week.

There would be a lot of teams in line for Anunoby, but he is a very Thibodeau-style player — an All-Defensive Team level wing stopper who can finish and is averaging 16.9 points per game — so you can see where the interest comes from. Anunoby also is just 25 and is locked in next season at $18.6 million. While the demand for wings in general is lower this trade season — point guards and centers are more in demand — a lot of teams could use a player the quality of Anunoby. Including the Knicks.

Getting him won’t be cheap — two unprotected first-round picks (or lightly protected) with matching salary would be the price range.

All of that is moot if the Raptors don’t make him available, which is what everyone is waiting to see.