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Celtics’ Jayson Tatum: ‘Trade rumors don’t bother me’

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Jayson Tatum was one of the young Celtics who struggled to find his space this season with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the mix. Tatum wasn’t shooting the three as well, was taking more long twos, and just seemed to plateau from last season rather than take the leap forward that was expected.

Playoff Tatum has looked more like what we expected, 19.8 points per game, 58 percent shooting from three, and impressive shot creation. That, of course, has rekindled the “are they going to trade him for Anthony Davis” talk. To which Tatum just shrugs, speaking to the New York Times.

“Trade rumors don’t bother me,” he said in his deep monotone. “They’re talking about trading me for guys like Anthony Davis. So, I mean, I must be doing something pretty well.” When pressed on whether this bothered him, he didn’t budge: “I love the game of basketball. Being traded is part of the game. I’ll play for whomever. It’s something I can’t control.”

That echoes what Tatum has said all year. This wasn’t the Laker locker room (which was a different circumstance), Tatum was unphased by the rumors that swirled around him and felt management would be upfront with him.

New Pelicans head man David Griffin has said in the past what he would look for in a Davis trade is one young All-Star player, other good young players or picks, and a veteran role player or two to stabilize the locker room. Tatum would be the young likely future All-Star. The guy who did this to LeBron James just a year ago.

Whether Tatum is traded or not depends on a lot of things — what direction Pelicans’ ownership wants to go with the trade, whether Kyrie Irving remains in Boston this summer, what other surprise offers for Davis or other stars come in — and none of it is within Tatum’s control. So he’s going to do his thing.

In the playoffs, that thing has been impressive.

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka reportedly meets with Tyronn Lue as coaching search continues

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Rob Pelinka seems to have all the front office power in Los Angeles — whether that is wise is another conversation entirely — and he is continuing full speed ahead with the search for the next Lakers’ coach.

Pelinka reportedly has already been in Philadelphia and met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams, who is still busy coaching a playoff team. Miami assistant coach Juwan Howard also reportedly in the mix and is supposed to meet with Pelinka next week.

Friday came the report Pelinka was about to meet with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. This has been expected.

Lue and Williams are considered the frontrunners, and both have a relationship with LeBron James that would net a thumbs up from the Lakers’ star. Lue coached LeBron to a championship in Cleveland, and while a lot of casual fans like to rip his coaching by the end of his time with the Cavaliers he was running some pretty creative stuff and getting players into good matchups and positions.

Williams is a former Pelicans’ head coach who also has a strong relationship with Anthony Davis (not that the hiring of a coach would have any impact on where Davis is traded, however, if he leaves where he is traded as a free agent in 2020 the coach could be a factor). Williams has spent time in the Spurs front office and on the coaching bench for the Sixers and Thunder. Williams’ strength is the perception he is not LeBron’s guy, unlike Lue.

Wojnarowski also said that Lue is pushing back on the idea he is LeBron’s coach, saying he would be coaching the Lakers not just one player. In Cleveland, Lue had the trust of LeBron and that allowed the coach to challenge his star at points.

Report: Pelicans cut Lakers GM Rob Pelinka from Anthony Davis trade talks

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On Jan. 31, a report emerged the Pelicans hadn’t returned the Lakers’ calls about Anthony Davis. Later that day, another report said the Pelicans and Lakers discussed a Davis trade.

That sparked questions: Was the first report wrong? Did New Orleans and Los Angeles begin talking that day?

Maybe we missed an important distinction.

The first report said then-Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hadn’t returned Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka’s calls. The second report said Demps spoke with Lakers president Magic Johnson.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Pelinka was mostly cut out of trade talks between L.A. and New Orleans, with the Pelicans preferring to deal directly with Johnson, multiple league sources told ESPN.

Since Johnson stunningly resigned, Pelinka has assumed control in Los Angeles. The Lakers surely still want to trade for Davis.

Will having Pelinka running the front office impair their ability to do so?

We don’t know why the Pelicans rebuffed Pelinka. Different theories bring varying levels of present concern.

Maybe the Pelicans just didn’t want to waste their time with someone who’s not in charge. That’s often an issue when lower-level executives contact other teams. If that’s the case, Pelinka assuming the top job in basketball operations would solve the problem.

Maybe Demps was still bitter with Pelinka over Pelinka’s time as an agent. In 2012, New Orleans restricted free agent Eric Gordon – represented by Pelinka – signed an offer sheet with the Suns. Gordon lobbied hard to leave New Orleans, even saying his heart was in Phoenix. Though New Orleans matched, the saga caused animosity. But the Pelicans fired Demps and hired David Griffin, who’ll now oversee Davis. If this was a personal issue between Pelinka and Demps, that’s now irrelevant.

Maybe Pelinka is just that off-putting. I definitely don’t buy everything people say about him. Being a good agent often means ruffling feathers, and it’s easy for people he countered in negotiations to gossip about him now. But maybe there’s some truth to Pelinka being difficult to work with. If so, that’d come up again – not just with the Pelicans, but every team.

David Griffin says he believes Anthony Davis is open to staying in New Orleans

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We’ve known this was a done deal for a while, but Wednesday he stepped out on stage and made it official: David Griffin is the man in charge of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s the guy with the hammer now.

What Griffin talked most about was building an infrastructure that can win in New Orleans. That means investing in the medical side (too often in the past that was tied to the Saints organization to save money, not with basketball people), as well as in player development. He also talked about the proper use of analytics, in balance, but increasing info from that part of the organization as well.

Of course, what everyone else wanted to talk about was Anthony Davis.

Davis’ representatives asked for a trade last season before the deadline, doing so in a very public way that torpedoed any playoff dreams for the Pelicans (those were longshots anyway) and creating a storm that eventually engulfed and help tank the Lakers, too. Davis came out the other end, still a Pelican, but around the league everyone expects him to be traded this summer.

Griffin said he is going to give it a shot to keep Davis, but the All-Star big man has to be all-in.

Griffin has to take this shot. Even if the Pelicans got their dream offer from Boston or wherever, they would not get a player the caliber of Davis in return. He is a top-five NBA player when healthy (and that may be too low), a force on both ends of the court, and he is just entering his prime. Griffin has to sit down with Davis and his agent Rich Paul, make his pitch about upgrades to both the team infrastructure and the roster, remind him how much extra money the Pelicans can pay him compared to any other team, and try to get Davis to buy in.

If that fails… more likely when that fails, then Griffin moves on to Plan B. Which would be trading Davis for the best possible deal (look for a move around the draft), but maybe keeping Jrue Holiday.

If the Pelicans go into a full rebuild, they may need to consider trading Holiday. Then again, the right package of players with a healthy Holiday could have the Pelicans close to a playoff spot in the West while still restructuring the roster for the future.

Griffin wants to win and win big in New Orleans. He owned up to that being a challenge in a smaller market, but called it “b*******” that small markets can’t get titles.

Presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson declares for NBA draft

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This is not a surprise, it’s just now official.

Zion Williamson, the Duke star projected by basically everyone to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, is headed to the NBA. He made it official on his Instagram account in a message largely about how much he appreciated his year in Durham, North Carolina.

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🔵Thank you Duke🔵#thebrotherhood

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“I will pursue my next dream and declare for the 2019 NBA Draft.”

Willaimson is is a 6’7″ versatile forward with an NBA-ready physique who has the potential to be a perfect fit in the modern NBA game. Sources from multiple NBA front offices have told me he is their highest rated prospect since Anthony Davis (some throw in Karl-Anthony Towns). Williamson is an insane athlete who can leap out of the building, but also shows a point guard’s feel for the game and has the potential to be an excellent defender. He needs to work to get his shot to an NBA level, but every report about him says he has a fantastic work ethic.

Now comes the race to see who will be his agent, and from there which shoe company signs Williamson. He is expected to get one of the — if not THE — largest rookie shoe contract ever.

Also on Monday, Virginia’s De'Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome, as well as Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, also all declared for the draft.