Three Things to Know: Night of insane endings featuring Lakers’ Reaves, Pelicans’ Graham


Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.

1) The wildest end of a game you will ever see, Graham heave wins it for Pelicans

We know that comes off as a classic clickbait headline… but this ending genuinely is the wildest thing you will see today. First, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drains a prayer of a 3-pointer to tie the game, leaving Devonte' Graham and the Pelicans 1.4 seconds to go the length of the court.

That was enough.

That win improves the Pelicans to 9-21 and gets them out of last place, up to 14th.

The buzz that the Pelicans are going to go for a win-now, make the play-in move at the trade deadline reeks of desperation. Maybe the desperation of a POBO/GM trying to keep his job, maybe of a franchise desperately trying to appease a young star, maybe the desperations flows down from ownership. Who knows. But desperation rarely leads to good decisions.

2) Austin Reaves is Lakers’ new fan favorite after game-winning 3

Austin Reaves did this for the Lakers at Summer League. Undrafted out of Oklahoma, he walked in the door with NBA confidence and an aggressive game, plus he had NBA handles (maybe the best crossover of anyone in the last draft). He had to hit all the big shots in college (and create most of them himself). He hit a game-winner for the Lakers in Summer League.

But it’s one thing to do it in a glorified pickup game in Las Vegas, and another to do it on the NBA stage. Reaves brought that confidence to the big stage and knocked down the game-winner for the Lakers in OT in Dallas.

There was a wild end to that game worth watching before Russell Westbrook kicked the ball out to Reaves.

In a year, the Lakers have needed some role players to step up, Austin Reaves has. It’s an impressive story.

3) What does Danny Ainge to Utah mean? Probably not much short-term, but long…

The Utah Jazz are 20-7, have won eight in a row, and have the best net rating in the NBA once you filter out garbage time from the equation (and they’re second if you don’t). Go ahead and take a “let’s see them do it in the playoffs” stance if you want (they know that’s where the season gets judged), but this team is a regular season powerhouse and a title contender.

That’s not the profile of a franchise that should change out the head of basketball operations, but that’s just what the Jazz have done. Dennis Lindsey was out six months ago. New owner Ryan Smith got his guy — Utah legend and former Celtics’ executive Danny Ainge is now the CEO and head of basketball operations for the Jazz.

At his introductory press conference, Ainge said that general manager Justin Zanik will run the day-to-day, take the calls, but what he didn’t need to say is ultimately it is Ainge at the top of the food chain. Smith said he wanted a front office where Ainge, Zanik and others work together and come to a consensus, that this is not some old-school rigid hierarchy, but at the end of the day Ainge will have the hammer. It’s ultimately his call.

(Side note: If I were Portland ownership, I would call Zanik today.)

In the short term, Ainge’s first move should be to keep his hands off. While the Jazz reportedly are looking for a wing defender at the deadline (what contender isn’t?), this isn’t a team that should see a major shakeup before the February trade deadline.

Next summer? Maybe. Let’s see what happens in the playoffs. This is a stable team and continuity is a good thing.

Ainge had a good run for much of his tenure in Boston — his team did win a title in 2008. He had some major successes: Bringing in Kevin Garnett, or trading the No. 1 pick and the rights to Markelle Fultz to get the No. 3 pick and Jayson Tatum. Ainge also had some big misses, like anything to do with acquiring Kyrie Irving. He had some excellent draft pickups, and some free agent flops. It’s a mixed bag, there are questions about Ainge’s people skills, but this is not an insane hire.

It’s Smith’s team and if he wants to put his friend in charge, it’s his prerogative. Ainge is qualified for the gig.

Just be careful messing with something already working.

Highlight of the Night: Rubio, Okoro putting on show in Cleveland

We could just run the entire Rockets/Cavaliers game as a highlight, this game may have been the most entertaining, highlight-filled game of the year. Two great ones below.

First, Ricky Rubio is the definition of a crafty vet.

And Isaac Okoro, that’s just nasty. Houston defenders just bounce off him.

Last night’s scores:

Cleveland 125, Houston 90
Atlanta 111, Orlando 99
Miami 101, Philadelphia 96
LA Lakers 107, Dallas 104 OT
Milwaukee 114, Indiana 99
New Orleans 113, Oklahoma City 110
Charlotte 131, San Antonio 115
Minnesota 124, Denver 107
Utah 124, LA Clippers 103
Memphis 113, Portland 103
Sacramento 119, Washington 105

Anthony Davis ‘excited’ to be Lakers’ No.1 offensive option, LeBron pushing him to do it


Is Anthony Davis a No.1 offensive option on a championship team?

The Lakers made a massive bet in trading for Davis — both in good young players and picks — that he could help them win a title now and be the bridge to the future post-LeBron James. Davis was everything the Lakers hoped in the bubble and did win them banner No. 17. However, he has not stayed healthy or consistently played up to that standard.

New Lakers coach Darvin Ham is betting on Davis again and is going to run more of the offense through him this season. LeBron James reportedly backs Ham up. Can Davis stay healthy, find that form again and look like that bridge to the future? If he can’t, the Lakers have to reconsider their post-LeBron plans. That’s why there is pressure on Davis this season.

Davis is excited to prove he is ready for the role, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He added LeBron is pushing him to do it.

“I’m so excited that I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about this year,” Davis told Yahoo Sports this week. “I’m looking forward to a healthy year and doing what I know we can do.”…

Davis said James, 37, has been in his ear about taking over the reins of the team, while the rest of the roster would follow his lead.

The first step in Davis being that No.1 option: Staying healthy. He played 40 games last season and 36 the season before that. While some of that was due to fluke injuries, the history of Davis missing time is long.

When healthy, Davis is an unquestionably elite player — to use the bubble example, Davis was a defensive force in Orlando who knocked down midrange jumpers after facing up, averaging 27.7 points on a 66.5 true shooting percentage, plus grabbed 9.7 rebounds a game. That is the AD the Lakers need this season.

Which can be a lot of pressure, but Davis said he doesn’t feel that.

“But for me, I’m not putting any pressure on myself at all,” Davis said at media day. “I’m gonna go out there and play basketball, work hard, defend and do what the team needs to win basketball games. I’m not going to overthink and, you know, listen to what everybody else is saying and try to be this ‘whatever’ player they want me to be.”

“Whatever” the Lakers want Davis to be is the Top 10 player in the world he has shown for stretches in Los Angeles. If he can be consistent, that Davis helps the Lakers be more of a threat in the West. If Davis can’t be that guy, it could be another long season for Lakers nation.


Proud to be an American: 76ers’ Embiid officially becomes U.S. citizen


CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Joel Embiid is an American citizen.

A native of Cameroon, Embiid said he was sworn in as a citizen two weeks ago in Philadelphia. The NBA scoring champion and Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center said his family – Embiid and his Brazilian girlfriend Anne de Paula have a young son – played a pivotal role in his decision.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Embiid told The Associated Press Thursday at training camp at The Citadel. “My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”

Embiid, who played college basketball for one season at Kansas, also has citizenship in France. He said it is way too early to think about which country he could potentially represent in international basketball.

The 28-year-old Embiid averaged a career-best 30.6 points in 68 games last season. The 7-footer also averaged 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in helping Philadelphia reach the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight year. Embiid averaged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in the postseason despite playing with hand and facial injuries.

Embiid had been announced as playing out of Kansas during pregame introductions at 76ers’ home games but switched around midseason last year as being introduced from Cameroon. He might try for a mouthful this season.

“We’re going to say Cameroon, American and French,” he said, laughing.

Tyler Herro says he’s better than players ‘that have gotten paid’

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven
Eric Espada/Getty Images

RJ Barrett signed a rookie contract extension for four years, $107 million fully guaranteed that could climb to $120 million with incentives. Several others out of the 2019 draft class — Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Darius Garland — earned max contract extensions with their team.

Tyler Herro is still waiting on his extension with the Miami Heat.

And with that baked in Herro confidence, he said he is better than some players he has seen getting paid, he told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“I was active early in the summer,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the extension window that opened in July. “Then I realized it wasn’t going to get done, if it does get done, until later. So I just told my agent to call me when it’s ready. “So we haven’t really spoken much about the contract. Obviously, I tell him to call me when it’s ready. If it’s not ready, I continue to play my game and figure it out next summer…

“There’s players across the league that have gotten paid who I know I’m better than. So it’s got to be the right number,” he said, with the Heat continuing camp on makeshift courts at the [ Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas].

One reason an extension for Herro has not gotten done — and may not get done before the Oct. 18 deadline — is Herro is the Heat’s best trade asset to go after a big name. Once he signs an extension that is off the table, something Winderman and I have discussed in our weekly video/podcast on the Heat and NBA.

The other question on a Herro extension is what is the “right number?” Did the Knicks’ Barrett set the market with his extension?

Maybe Barrett is one of the players Herro “knows” he is better than, but that would not be the consensus of scouts and free agents around the league. Herro has hardware as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, he puts up numbers averaging 20.7 points a game while shooting 39.9% from 3 last season, he can do some secondary play creation and has had big playoff games. He has real value.

However, as Winderman has pointed out, Herro has started just 33 games across three years, compared to Barrett’s 197 starts. More importantly, Herro’s defensive limitations limited how Eric Spoelstra could use him in the playoffs. Then there is the matter of load carried. Barrett was the No. 1 option for the Knicks last season (with Julius Randle falling off) and even with the signing of Jalen Brunson, Barrett is option No.1 or 1B for Tom Thibodeau. Herro is down the Heat pecking order behind Bam AdebayoJimmy Butler, and maybe Kyle Lowry depending on how he bounces back from a down year. The Heat don’t need Herro the way the Knicks need Barrett right now, which is one key reason Herro is available via trade.

Would Herro take a four-year, $105 extension? Would the Heat even offer it? If Miami is hoping for a trade at the deadline, it may wait on an offer and let the market set Herro’s price as a restricted free agent next summer. For Herro, that would give him a chance to prove he is a starter and that his defense has improved — that he is worth more than the Heat had been offering.

If the Heat and Herro agree on an extension, look for it to be in a couple of weeks, pushing up against that October deadline.


Lonzo Ball undergoes successful knee surgery, out ‘at least a few months’


Lonzo Ball underwent another arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Wednesday, and the doctors finally had some positive news.

They believe that they’ve “addressed the issue”, and there is “confidence” that he’ll be able to play this season. He’s still expected to miss “at least a few months”, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania added that both sides will monitor his progress over

After his first surgery in January, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well at all, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. During media day this week, Ball said that he couldn’t run or jump, so he couldn’t play basketball. Billy Donovan said that they had to think of Ball’s injury as potentially season-ending. So an update that says that he should play this season is considered good news at this point.

Chicago had a 22-13 record with Lonzo last season, but were just 24-23 without him. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks, and 3.1 triples per game in his first year with the team.

They have other defenders like Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso, but they don’t have anyone else that can both defend and facilitate the way Lonzo can. They’ll use training camp and the preseason to decide on a starting point guard between Dosunmu, Caruso, and Goran Dragic.

They’re one of the more talented teams in the East, but they may end up playing in the play-in tournament if they’re without Ball for the majority of the season.