Three things to know: Does Aldridge to Nets, Drummond to Lakers move championship needle?

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The NBA season is into its second half, 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 Aldridge to Nets, Drummond to Lakers move teams’ championship needle?

The rich got richer in the NBA at the buyout deadline. Major market contenders — the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers — added the biggest name players on the cheap on this year’s buyout market. While there is a debate to be had about the equity of the system, we’re asking a different question:

Did adding Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge in Brooklyn, and Andre Drummond in Los Angeles, really move the championship needle for those teams?

For the Nets, not that much.

While Aldridge and Griffin are big names with 13 All-Star Game appearances between them, neither of them has played near that level for a couple of years — they got bought out for a reason — and they are not necessarily better than the guys the Nets have on the roster now. Griffin is a good passer and improved shooter who can still dunk and averaged 9 points a game since coming to the shorthanded Nets. Aldridge is a pick-and-pop threat who also will play a lot of center for the Nets, giving Steve Nash options.

But in a playoff series, the best hope is one of them can help with a specific matchup for a game, maybe two.

Neither Aldridge nor Griffin has the lateral movement left to defend well enough to help Brooklyn on the end of the court the team actually needs help (the Nets have to play more of a drop-back system with them and DeAndre Jordan). The reality is second-year backup center Nicolas Claxton is Brooklyn’s best center off the bench — he has broken out in recent weeks, and he’s the team’s best role-playing defender by a mile. He can switch picks onto guards and not get torched, something Aldridge and Griffin cannot say. If Claxton’s run is cut to get Griffin and Aldridge promised minutes at the five, opponents will celebrate it. Claxton brings a level of athleticism lacking in the Nets frontline that neither Griffin nor Aldridge have at this point in their careers.

When Brooklyn gets healthy and gets Durant back at the four, the minutes for Griffin should shrink. There could be ripple effects: To get Griffin minutes when Durant is playing, KD may have to slide to the three, taking minutes from Bruce Brown, who has played well for Brooklyn.

If Aldridge and Drummond getting run because it was promised and not because of their play right now, Brooklyn gets worse. The Nets’ best lineups this season have been smaller and some have seen Jeff Green at the five. We may see more of that come the playoffs, maybe more Claxton, but if those minutes need to go to Aldridge and Griffin because the minutes were promised, then the Nets did not improve.

The Lakers move the needle a little more with Drummond.

Drummond will be an upgrade over Marc Gasol, who continues to struggle this season and has been slowed as he recovers from COVID-19. In the short term, while LeBron James and Anthony Davis are out, the Lakers can run some offense through Drummond in the post and get a few buckets. When those guys return, Drummond has the chance to show he can thrive in a role — rebound, be a solid drop-back defender in the paint, get a few buckets playing off the stars, keep the ball moving. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said, “I think our team got a lot better.”

Drummond makes the Lakers better now, but he doesn’t really change this team’s championship odds. Not meaningfully.

The reality is by the time the Lakers get to the second round of the playoffs and beyond, Davis is the Laker playing the critical minutes at center. Drummond will be asked to slot into essentially the Dwight Howard role from the last playoffs, and we’ll see how he handles it. Maybe it works, and he helps as a big body in certain matchups (Jusuf Nurkic, Rudy Gobert, in the Finals maybe Joel Embiid or Jordan/Aldridge), but more Drummond is not the Lakers best lineup.

Drummond is a good pickup for the Lakers; he is an upgrade. He just doesn’t move the championship needle a whole lot.

2) Aaron Gordon looks like a comfortable fit in first game with Nuggets

Denver moved its championship needle at the trade deadline picking up Aaron Gordon.

How much and if it’s enough is a question not answered until May and June, but Gordon fit in well in the Nuggets offense on Sunday, scoring 13 points in a Nuggets blowout win and sliding right into a role that fit him as an athletic finisher.

Gordon was constrained at times in Orlando by the role he had to play — point forward at times — and the talent around him. He’ll get more open looks in Denver as the defenses focus on Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. It helps to have your first game with a new team be the soft landing spot of the bottom-10 Atlanta defense. Still, you can see the athleticism Gordon brings and his ability to finish above the rim, something Denver has lacked.

Gordon’s biggest role in Denver come the playoffs will be as a wing defender against the West’s elite, a role not truly tested in his first outing. But on Day One, Gordon looked like a good fit.

Also, there was a Bol Bol sighting on Sunday.

3) Bradley Beal keeps it very real talking to his AAU team.

Sometimes, young athletes need a kick in the….

Bradley Beal delivered it in no uncertain terms trying to get through to AAU players this week in a video caught by SLAM. He lays out the reality for them — if your dreams are about the NBA, you are trying to take my job (and the paycheck of 450 other guys), and I am not giving that up. He keeps it 100 about making the NBA.

If you’re wondering how that was received, at least one parent of a player on that team said it was needed.

DeMarcus Cousins looking for NBA return, ‘I just want a fair shot’

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
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DeMarcus Cousins can still help a team. He did it last season, first in Milwaukee because they needed depth (Brook Lopez was out following back surgery) and he gave them 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game of solid play. Then, the Bucks let him go for financial reasons and the Nuggets picked him up to play behind Nikola Jokic and he was again a solid reserve, with 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game (and he had a 31-point night against the Rockets).

Cousins, however, has not landed with a team heading into this season, with teams more concerned about his character and influence than his game. Cousins told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports he has learned from his past mistakes and wants another chance.

“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously, whenever it gets to the point where the negatives outweigh the positives, you should probably move away from him. That’s just how life goes. But I don’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my growth as a man and a player…

“I think the misperception of me is that I’m this angry monster that just goes around bullying people, beating people up, uncoachable, and a cancer in the locker room,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “I think it’s all false. I played for coach [John] Calipari, a legendary coach. I was more than coachable. Steve Kerr would attest to that and coach Malone. Obviously, you can always go back to my time in Sacramento. I was a young kid. I was still figuring this business out. I was ignorant to a lot of things. I handled a lot of things the incorrect way, but I’ve also learned from those mistakes…

“So, to hold my time in Sac over my head, I think that’s unfair. I believe we all should have a chance to grow and change and actually have that change be embraced. I just want a fair shot.”

Cousins also said he is working out daily to be ready when the phone rings and understands he is now a role player.

It will ring. At some point an injury will happen and a team will turn to Cousins to be that solid backup big they can give 15 minutes a night (or, a team will realize they need more size than they currently have on their roster). Center has become a bit of a mercenary position in the NBA, one where teams often look to fill roles on the cheap so money can be spent on perimeter players, and teams think low-risk with those spots. Fair or not, Cousins is not seen as low risk.

But his stint with the Warriors before the bubble (and before he tore his ACL) and last season with the Bucks and Nuggets show he can fit in on an established team and contribute. Eventually, he should get that chance.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole

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Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

The two players had been jawing at each other when it escalated and Green punched Poole, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Warriors elder statesman Andre Iguodala Tweeted out this on the situation, wanting to keep it all in the family, and adding that “it broke my heart… but it fixed my vision.”

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle

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The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.