Anthony Davis injury reportedly has Lakers thinking smaller trade at deadline

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Think small, Lakers fans.

Those Lakers are 1-2 since Anthony Davis went out with a still undescribed foot injury that is expected to keep him out a month or more. What that injury meant on the court — where the Lakers head to Dallas on Christmas Day to kick off a five-game road trip — was always going to impact the moves the Lakers made off the court as the trade deadline approaches.

The most likely impact is the Lakers go with smaller deals at the trade deadline to try and shore up this roster, according to Jovan Buha at The Athletic.

Davis’ injury has increased the probability that the only move the Lakers make is a smaller trade featuring, at most, one first-round pick, sources with knowledge of the Lakers’ plans told The Athletic. The one exception is if a star that can grow alongside Davis over the next few years becomes available.

But the most likely trade outcome, at this point, is some form of Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn and either the 2027 or 2029 first-round pick (likely protected) for a 3-and-D wing or combo forward that fits well next Davis and James, those sources said.

There are a few reasons for this.

First, the big move isn’t there to make — there are no superstars, no All-NBA level players available via trade right now. There is no silver bullet trade that makes these Lakers a contender. Buzz around the league has linked the Lakers to DeMar DeRozan (who is the closest thing to a superstar mentioned in legitimate trade rumors), but the Bulls have not made him available and are not expected to in the short term, that is more of an offseason/summer move. (There has been speculation about Zach LaVine wanting to come to the Lakers, he is a Klutch client after all, but the Bulls are not considering moving him unless he demands a trade, and maybe not even then.) Any superstar movement is likely around the draft at the earliest.

Second, the Lakers’ slow start combined with Davis’ injury limits how far up the standings they are likely to climb even with a trade. Put bluntly, the Lakers’ front office shouldn’t throw good money after bad. This season is what it is, the Lakers are 13-18 and outside even the play-in right now, and while one could say they are just 4.5 games out of the No.6 seed it’s unlikely the Lakers make up that ground. Especially with Davis out. If the Lakers only are climbing their way up to the play-in, why waste trade assets now or take on future salary? Wait for a better move this summer.

Third, the combination of Beverley, Nunn and a pick will only net a rotation player, not a dramatic difference maker, especially if the Lakers aren’t taking on future salary. For example, while the best player the Lakers could potentially net with Beverly/Nunn/pick is the Pistons’ Bojan Bogdanovic, but he has a two-year, $39 million extension that kicks in next season and would eat up a lot of the Lakers cap space in coming years. Buha at the Athletic listed these names as more likely trade targets: Jae Crowder, Eric Gordon, Alec Burks, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr., Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl. There also is talk of Cam Reddish of the Knicks (who Rob Pelinka has liked for a while). All nice players who help with depth but are not moving the needle.

That’s where the Lakers are. It likely doesn’t make LeBron James happy — when he signed his extension the Lakers’ front office reportedly promised to make significant upgrades around him. They didn’t, and here we are. The front office has done little, and that is showing up on the court.

This trade deadline is not going to solve all that.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

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We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 4 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken in New Orleans. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the record fall when LeBron returns to Los Angeles on Feb. 7 or Feb. 9.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend

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It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.

LeBron livid over no foul call at end of regulation, Lakers fall to Celtics in OT

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“The best player on earth can’t get a call. It’s amazing.”

Lakers coach Darvin Ham made that comment out of frustration after another game where the Lakers felt robbed at the end. He wasn’t the only Laker.

LeBron James was once again brilliant — 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists — but with the game tied against the Celtics and 4.1 seconds on the clock, he drove the lane and didn’t get the foul call when it clearly looked like Jayson Tatum hit him on the arm as he shot.

After the game, referee crew chief Eric Lewis admitted the officials missed the call:

There was contact. At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

Patrick Beverley picked up a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera over to the referee to show evidence of the foul.

These losses are a punch to the gut for a Laker team with little margin for error and trying to make up ground in the West (at 23-27 they sit 13th in the conference). But LeBron sees a pattern — he is scoring 30.2 points per game (sixth in the league) but is getting to the line just 4.9 times per game, fewer than anyone else in the top nine in the league in scoring.

“I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint, just as much as any of the guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free throws a night, and I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” James said postgame in Boston.

The other Lakers were a little more direct.

Boston pulled away in overtime to get the 125-121 win, snapping their own three-game losing streak.

LeBron finished with 41, Anthony Davis 16 (on 6-of-15 shooting off the bench) and Beverley had 15 including a key putback dunk. Jaylen Brown scored 37 for Boston, Tatum 30 and Malcolm Brogdon had 26 off the bench.

There are no moral victories for these Lakers more than halfway into the season, playing the team with the best record in the NBA close and almost winning does not count. Time is running out on LeBron and his team, they need to string together some wins. They felt they should have gotten the chance to win this one.