NBA Rundown Week 17: Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson's plans to hug it out with LA Lakers players; conspiracy theories and more
Bits and bobs from the week that was in the NBA.
The LA Lakers made multiple offers for Anthony Davis in the trade window, but the New Orleans Pelicans didn't budge.
LeBron James’ All-Star team is stacked with players who would all be free agents come summer, from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson
Harrison Barnes learnt he had been traded by the Dallas Mavericks to the Sacramento Kings while he was on the floor.
That’s the strategy Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, LA Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations, says he will employ to make everything hunky-dory in the franchise.
"It's a part of business, it's a part of being a professional athlete," said Johnson, referring to the past few weeks where over half of the franchise’s players were dangled like carrots in front of the New Orleans Pelicans to prise Anthony Davis away from the franchise.
Depending on which reports you believe, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Ivica Zubac and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were all up for grabs in some combination or another along with two first-round picks in exchange for Davis.
“I love our team. I love the guys,” continued Johnson referring to the players he had tried to send away to New Orleans for the better part of the past fortnight. “It's a tough part of our business whether you're mentioned in trade talk, or you get traded.”
On being asked how he intended to repair the fractured morale of the team — while the trade rumours were blowing up, some seniors like Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee were embroiled in a flare up with head coach Luke Walton while the Lakers lost by 42 points to the Indiana Pacers — he responded by saying: “I'm going to hug 'em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) February 10, 2019
“It's a tough part of professional sports, but they came together and played great against Boston (Celtics). My job is to make sure we stay together as a team and stay focused on the goal, which is to make the playoffs.”
Well, at least the trade window reopens.
A conspiracy theory and a half
Do you like conspiracy theories? Who doesn’t!
Well here’s one that caught our attention after the trade window slammed shut and brought a temporary halt to the LA Lakers’ persistent, yet eventually futile, attempts to prise Davis off the roster of the New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans never intended to send Davis away to Los Angeles in this trade window, but never outright shut the door on a trade for him in order to see Lakers decapitate their team spirit at the altar of the ambitious trade for Davis. You see, it was all a long heist on the part of the Pelicans to sabotage the Lakers core as retribution for unsettling Davis, who represented the Pelicans’ future.
So I asked @WindhorstESPN if the Pels ever intended to seriously engage with LA on Anthony Davis, or if all the talks & leaks were instead designed to sabotage the young Lakers as revenge for what N.O. sees as tampering, & he said "it's not just possible, it's what happened." 👀 pic.twitter.com/wki2hDPaEs
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 7, 2019
Apparently, the Pelicans were incensed at what they saw as an extraordinary effort by the Lakers — led by LeBron James and assisted by Rich Paul, the agent James shares with Davis — to destabilise the superstar.
The trade window, therefore, was just about payback. Irrespective of what’s true, everyone involved will have to stay precisely where they were at least until the summer trade window opens. This will mean awkward, or downright uncomfortable, moments for players.
🗣:"Bron's gonna trade you"
Pacers fans being ruthless to BI pic.twitter.com/QW7VTDRkKm
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 6, 2019
LeBron gets Davis on his team and a trade that he wants
…if only in the NBA All-Star draft!
While the drama about the Davis trade played out publically, the NBA All-Star draft was also broadcast for the first time ever, giving fans a glimpse into the thinking that goes behind picking players for the two All-Star teams.
It had moments which made for great television.
Like when LeBron James, one of captains, picked Davis.
TNT host Ernie Johnson immediately asked LeBron if he was sure he wanted AD as his teammate.
LeBron chortled, “I’m very sure of that.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo, the other captain, was quick to point out that this could be construed as ‘tampering’ — a charge that has been routinely placed on LeBron all of the trade deadline when it comes to the Davis affair.
An unflappable LeBron drawled, “Tampering rules do not apply on All-Star weekend.”
LeBron picks Anthony Davis to his All-Star team "Tampering rules do not apply on All-Star Weekend" pic.twitter.com/KBZfFQAxdO
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 8, 2019
Another thing that fans just could not stop noticing was that LeBron’s team was stacked with a host of incredible players who would all be free agents come the summer, from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Klay Thompson.
While LeBron made light of the way he picked his players later in interviews, the upcoming NBA All-Star Game will be present the players themselves and the NBA universe a glimpse of what a LeBron-Durant, or a LeBron-Kawhi, or a LeBron-Klay or a LeBron-Davis partnership would look like.
When Harrison Barnes got traded mid-game!
The NBA can be a cruel place!
Harrison Barnes learnt he had been traded by the Dallas Mavericks to the Sacramento Kings while he was on the floor against Charlotte Hornets. While cameras caught the NBA veteran looking dazed while he was on the bench, the commentators broke the news to those watching the game on TV.
Harrison Barnes was on the court for the Mavericks when reports came down that he was traded. pic.twitter.com/YnqCbW3cuV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 7, 2019
The incident got the attention of LeBron, who took to social media to slam the hypocrisy of trades in the NBA.
View this post on Instagram
So let me guess this is cool cause they had to do what was best for the franchise right??? Traded this man while he was literally playing in the game and had ZERO idea. I’m not knocking who traded him because it’s a business and you have to do what you feel what’s best but I just want this narrative to start to get REAL/CHANGE and not when a player wants to be traded or leaves a Franchise that he’s a selfish/ungrateful player but when they trade you, release , waive, cut etc etc it’s best for them! I’m ok with both honestly, truly am. Just call a ♠️ a ♠️!!
LeBron, once he gets done with the All-Star weekend, will have bigger issues to contend with in his own team, which is currently 10th in the Western Conference standings. The younger players are unsettled while the seniors have picked up a tiff with the coach.
It probably will take more than a hug to get the Lakers into the playoffs.
Russell Westbrook sealed his record-breaking triple midway through the fourth quarter of the game against the Atlanta Hawks.
We need stricter regulations to ensure that gambling operations do not make use of the loosely-worded definition for real-money gaming to seek legitamacy.
NBA: Bojan Bogdanovic scores 48 points, Jazz rally to beat Nuggets; 76ers inch closer top spot in East
Bogdanovic went 16 of 23 from the field — making a career-high eight 3-pointers — to lead the NBA-leading Jazz to their fourth straight victory.