J.R. Smith

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Report: Anthony Davis resolute in wanting trade from Pelicans

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New Pelicans vice president David Griffin talked very optimistically about keeping Anthony Davis in New Orleans despite the star’s trade request. The former Cavaliers general manager touted his relationship with agent Rich Paul, who represents Davis and several players Griffin signed in Cleveland – most prominently LeBron James, but also Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. Griffin even cleverly paved the path for Davis to return after his “That’s All Folks!” shirt further alienated Pelicans fans.

But Griffin’s effort has apparently gone for naught.

Fletcher Mackel of WDSU:

Griffin still wants and could get an in-person meeting with Davis. Perhaps, that will change Davis’ mind. But it seems very unlikely.

Soon after the lottery, the Davis sweepstakes will likely kick back into high gear. Establishing a draft order will solidify trade offers, but it sounds as if Griffin wants more than picks. He said the goal is remaining competitive around Jrue Holiday, even without Davis.

The Celtics – who have loomed over the Davis saga – can make a compelling offer. But will they offer as many assets for Davis only one year ahead of his unrestricted free agency if Kyrie Irving is leaving this summer? It’s a huge question that opens the door for other teams.

Once Griffin finishes his longshot bid to convince Davis to stay.

It seems that time is nearing.

Kentucky Derby’s finish recalls controversial end of Game 1 of 2018 NBA Finals

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Think back to the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals last year and the first thing to come to mind is the legendary J.R. Smith blunder as he dribbled out the clock in a tie game, sending the contest to overtime. The Warriors won that extra session, the Cavaliers were emotionally crushed, and the series was already all but over.

However, after that game in the Cleveland locker room, it was not Smith they were complaining about (mostly), it was a controversial overturn of a charging call on Kevin Durant with :36 seconds left in the game, which upon review was changed to a blocking foul by LeBron James. The Cavaliers thought the referees cost them the game before Smith got his chance to do it.

Saturday’s controversial ending to the 145th Kentucky Derby brought that moment to mind — a video review that changed the outcome on the sport’s biggest stage. At this point you know what happened in the Kentucky Derby: Maximum Security led wire-to-wire but rounding the turn heading into the home stretch he veered sharply out of his lane (his jockey said because he was spooked by crowd noise) and into the path of other horses, impeding them. The race stewards spent a lot of time in front of the video review, ultimately deciding Maximum Security did violate the rules, giving the race to Country House, a 65-1 shot.

It was the first time in Kentucky Derby history that the horse that crossed the finish line first was not declared the winner.

The racing experts can decide if that was the right call — and watching the NBC broadcast, they did not all agree on whether it was or not — but it shows just how much video replay has become a part of sport. And a part of the controversy, part of the post-game debate. Just ask Manchester City about it. Video review of borderline plays is now just one more thing for fans and media members to argue and complain about.

It was for the NBA last June.

If the referees had upheld their original call, it would have been Cavaliers’ ball up two with :36 seconds left, not a guaranteed win but Cleveland would have been in control. Instead, Durant hit two free throws to tie the game. It changed everything.

“I thought I read that play as well as I read any play in my career defensively,” LeBron said of the play. “I seen the drive, I was outside the charge line, stepped in and took the contact. It was huge play. Huge play.”

The officials had to start the review to see if LeBron was inside the restricted area, but once they look at it the referees were allowed to change the call if the block/charge ruling was seen as incorrect. Cleveland’s argument — and it’s a legitimate one — is that there was no question if LeBron was in the restricted area, he clearly was not, so this play should never have been reviewed.

It was. The call was overturned. The NBA’s Last Two Minute report the next day backed the referees’ decision.

The Warriors went on to sweep the Cavaliers — Golden State would have won the series whatever that call — and that, combined the blunder of J.R. Smith, relegated the controversial review call to the back burner. Maybe it shouldn’t.

But just wait, another review controversy will come along soon enough in the NBA to bring that debate back to the front burner.

Cavaliers reportedly plan to trade J.R. Smith in June

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J.R. Smith remains in limbo — he’s not playing for the Cavaliers, and he’s not getting bought out in the coming days either. His contract remains the thing Cavaliers management is keeping in its back pocket to make sure they stay below the luxury tax threshold this season and next.

The plan is for the Cavaliers to trade Smith around the draft, and if not waive him then, reports Joe Varden of The Athletic. Just remember, it’s all about the tax line, which the Cavaliers are just barely below right now.

The Cavs’ projected salary for next season includes JR Smith’s $15.8 million. If he’s waived or traded by June 30, he only costs $3.9 million, which would drop Cleveland below the tax line straightaway…

Now, you might counter that the Cavs could buy out JR Smith and get him to leave some money on the table to create some room to operate. But that’s not going to happen because the Cavs have every intention of trying to trade him in June. If they need another body over the last 22 games, there’s always the two-way guys.

In the short term, Cleveland is up against the tax line so they have no roster flexibility, but it’s not like their trying to stack the roster for a playoff run. The Cavs will play the season out with the guys they have, then start making their moves this summer to roll back the roster cost some and start building for the future.

One way or another, Smith will be part of those moves. Come June. Not before.

Anthony Davis to play Friday after NBA warned Pelicans of $100,000 fine for resting him

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Anthony Davis is playing — and starting — for the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night against the Timberwolves in a nationally televised game.

Davis had been medically cleared for nearly a week now and wanted to play, but the Pelicans held in out in advance of the trade deadline to protect him from injury in case a trade they liked came together. None did.

However, they will trade him this summer, so why not put him on the shelf for the rest of the season for the same reason? There’s some logic to it for the Pelicans and Davis.

Not, however, for the NBA league office. Brian Windhorst explained at ESPN.

After reviewing its rules, the league office informed the Pelicans that they would be expected to play Davis, starting with Friday night’s nationally televised game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, sources said.

The league referred the Pelicans to rules put in place in 2017 that restrict teams from resting healthy players. The Pelicans, league sources said, were told that they would be subject to a fine of $100,000 per every game if Davis were benched.

It would be a black eye to the NBA to rest a healthy Davis — people pay good money to see him play. It’s one thing to put J.R. Smith in limbo (it’s fair to ask if he’s even a rotation player on a good team now), but doing it to Davis — one of the five, if not three, best players on the face of the Earth — is something else entirely.

Davis will play fewer than his averaged 37 minutes a night, and he will be rested on half of back-to-backs, but he will play.

The Pelicans — and Davis’ suitors — will cross their fingers he stays healthy.

Anthony Davis reportedly medically cleared but Pelicans expect to sit him Wednesday

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Anthony Davis wants to play — it’s in his nature. If he’s healthy he wants to be in the game, even if there are very logical reasons for him to sit.

Davis is officially questionable for Wednesday night’s Pelicans game vs. the Bulls.

However, he has been medically cleared, the Pelicans just want to sit him out before the trade deadline, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

That seems to be more when then if, it appears highly unlikely the Pelicans will trade Davis — to the Lakers or anywhere else — before Thursday’s trade deadline. As has been reported at NBC Sports since the day it was leaked Davis’ camp had asked for a trade, sources have told me the Pelicans planned to be patient. This was never going to be a quick decision unless there was a Godfather offer (and the latest one from the Lakers does not qualify in the Pelicans’ book). Another thing to remember: Pelicans’ GM Dell Demps is fielding the calls right now, but he is on thin ice within the organization. If Micky Loomis (the Saints executive Demps reports too, and a man known for being patient in trades) is planning to clean house with the front office, he would want the new GM to have the chance to make this deal, not saddle him with the trade Demps thought was good enough.

What becomes interesting is after the trade deadline if Davis is still a member of the Pelicans.

There would be good reasons to sit him — and for Davis to want to sit out. Specifically, the risk of injury. If something severe and unfortunate were to happen, it would be bad news for everyone involved. Plus, the Pelicans are in tank mode now (not that they’ll admit it) and playing Davis makes them demonstrably better and would get them wins. There are logical reasons for Davis to be a healthy scratch for the rest of the season.

But how would the NBA league office react? A healthy top five player in the league sitting? It’s one thing to have J.R. Smith or Carmelo Anthony out — both of them had struggled on the court and there was a good basketball case to sit them out. There is no such case for Davis.

One way or another, it’s going to be an interesting rest of the season in New Orleans.