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#pounditWednesday, October 5, 2022

Anthony Davis

Did Lakers stars pressure Rob Pelinka into making major roster move?

Rob Pelinka

Much has been made of the roster that Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka put together this season. But it turns out that Pelinka might have actually done it differently if it had been solely up to him.

In a post to his Substack this week, veteran NBA writer Marc Stein made an interesting revelation about the Lakers’ acquisition of former MVP Russell Westbrook this past summer. Stein said that Pelinka had planned to trade for Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield but that stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis encouraged the Lakers front office to go all-in for Westbrook.

We knew that the Lakers were linked to Hield immediately before trading for Westbrook. Just minutes after they were reported to be nearing a trade for Hield, it was then reported that the Lakers were instead trading largely the same assets (Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a first-round pick) to Washington for Westbrook.

The ex-MVP Westbrook has struggled in Los Angeles this year. Combined with his usual inefficiency and turnovers, Westbrook is averaging his fewest points per game since the 2009-10 season. The Lakers are also just .500 on the season overall. That begs the question of if Hield, a 40 percent three-point shooter on a smaller contract who likely would have fit better with James and Davis, was the player the Lakers should have gotten instead.

With the Feb. 10 trade deadline approaching, many are now wondering if the Lakers will consider trading Westbrook. Some speculative scenarios have even emerged. But Stein adds that there are concerns with optics for the Lakers, who do not want to pay a premium to dump Westbrook after giving up so much to acquire him. Thus, the Lakers are unwilling to include their 2027 first-round pick in any such trade of Westbrook, Stein notes.

As for Pelinka, he recently explained why Westbrook was chosen over Hield. But what Pelinka obviously won’t admit is if he got pressured into choosing Westbrook over Hield by the Lakers’ star players. Based on this latest report, it sounds very possible that was the case.

Photo: Sep 27, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka answers a question during the Lakers media day at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, CA. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis made 1 big improvement to his game while rehabbing injury

Anthony Davis in his Lakers uniform

Anthony Davis may be looking like a changed man when he returns to the lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported on Sunday that the Lakers star has made one big improvement to his game while rehabbing his knee injury: Davis has been working on his shot mechanics.

The eight-time All-Star Davis has been out since Dec. 17 after suffering an MCL sprain on an unfortunate in-game play (video here). He is nearing a return though and could be back as soon as Tuesday against Brooklyn.

An improved jumper is sorely needed for Davis. Before he got injured, Davis was shooting a horrendous 17.9 percent from deep this season. He was even getting roasted by some big NBA names for his awful shooting. With Davis’ hard work during rehab however, the Lakers will be hoping that he can finally put those criticisms to rest and truly unlock their offense.

H/T Lakers Daily

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers linked to former Anthony Davis teammate

Anthony Davis in his Lakers uniform

The Los Angeles Lakers may be going after a player that Anthony Davis would have plenty of intel on.

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported on Monday that Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets could be a potential trade target for the Lakers. Pincus also mentions Terrence Ross of the Orlando Magic as another candidate that the Lakers may pursue. But he says that any such deal with Houston or Orlando would hinge on either team’s interest in acquiring Talen Horton-Tucker.

Gordon was teammates with Davis in New Orleans for four seasons from 2012 to 2016. Gordon also briefly played with Carmelo Anthony then with Russell Westbrook in Houston.

The former Sixth Man of the Year Gordon is a prime trade target as a 33-year-old on a rebuilding team. He is in Year 2 of a four-year, $75.5 million contract, but the final year of that deal is not guaranteed.

Horton-Tucker has not been the answer for the Lakers at the 2 this season. Meanwhile, Malik Monk, while he is capable of huge scoring performances, lacks consistency, Wayne Ellington lacks versatility, and the rookie Austin Reaves lacks experience. Gordon is a 14-year veteran who has been a part of multiple deep postseason runs. That seems to be the type of player that the Lakers would generally like to acquire as the Feb. 10 trade deadline looms.

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis to miss at least four weeks with knee injury

Anthony Davis in his Lakers uniform

The Los Angeles Lakers will be without Anthony Davis for the foreseeable future after he hurt his knee Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Lakers announced that Davis’ MRI showed a left knee MCL sprain, and he will be re-evaluated again in four weeks. That essentially means Davis won’t be back until late January at the absolute earliest.

Davis actually left Friday’s game twice due to injuries. The first was to his ankle, but he was able to return from that one. The second one was the knee injury, which did look more significant even at the time.

The Lakers simply have not had health on their side this year, but this one particularly hurts. Davis had been fairly durable, playing in 27 games and averaging 23.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Despite a lot of recent criticism, he had arguably been the Lakers’ most consistent player thus far.

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Was LeBron James to blame for Anthony Davis’ latest injury?

LeBron James pushing Jaden McDaniels

LeBron James appeared to set off a chain reaction on Friday that led to another injury for star teammate Anthony Davis.

Davis injured his knee in the third quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 110-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. James pushed off on Wolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who then fell into Davis’ left knee.

Another angle of the play showed Davis’ knee seemingly bending inwards.

Davis exited the game and did not return. He had difficulty getting to the locker room on his way out.

James was called for an offensive foul on the play, lending credence to the suggestion that he was to blame for Davis’ injury with his two-handed push on McDaniels. However, Lakers fans will argue that McDaniels embellished the contact and instead point the finger at him for Davis’ injury.

Regardless, Davis was diagnosed with a left knee contusion and will undergo further testing on Saturday, per Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet. The Lakers play the Bulls in Chicago on Sunday.

The oft-injured big man, who is averaging 23.8 points per game this season, missed two games earlier this month with soreness in the same knee. Davis also had another injury scare earlier in the game against Minnesota.

Anthony Davis heads to locker room after suffering ankle injury

Anthony Davis grabs his ankle

Anthony Davis was taken to the locker room after suffering an ankle injury during the first quarter of his Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Davis was driving to the basket but losing control, so he tried to pass to Rajon Rondo. Davis then lost track of where he was going and stepped on Naz Reid, who had fallen on the floor.

Davis twisted his right ankle stepping on Reid.

Davis was down and received some attention. Then he was helped to the locker room.

The oft-injured forward had six points in 11 minutes before getting hurt.

Shaq has sharp criticism of Anthony Davis

Shaq sitting courtside

Shaquille O’Neal, himself the NBA’s original Superman, thinks that Anthony Davis looks less like Superman and more like Mickey Mouse right now.

In an episode this week of his “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” O’Neal offered a strong criticism of the Los Angeles Lakers star Davis.

“[Russell] Westbrook ain’t the problem [for the Lakers],” said O’Neal. “Who’s the 1-2 punch on their team? So the last week, I saw some LeBron stats. I ain’t see no AD stats. That’s the problem right there.

“Listen, I speak from an experienced place,” O’Neal added. “If you’re gonna be a 1-2 punch, be a hell of a 1-2 punch. Don’t let the 1, who’s the older of the 1-2 punch, take all the, you know, do this, do that. Listen, he’s very talented. He’s shooting 19 percent from the three. LeBron got Western Conference Player of the Week and had fun while doing it. What are you doing, Mr. AD? What are you doing? I ain’t seen your name mentioned all year. So if you’re gonna be a 1-2 punch, make sure you step up.”

The 28-year-old Davis, who is the only Lakers star in his prime right now, has indeed been one of the team’s bigger underachievers. O’Neal actually oversold Davis’ three-point shooting ability (he is shooting 18.2 percent from deep this season). Davis is also shooting a career-low 72.5 percent from the foul line and is averaging 23.8 points per game, which is below than his career average.

At 16-13, the Lakers are rounding into form a bit after having won their last three consecutive games. But they have still been a popular recent target for criticism from the former Lakers great O’Neal. The Basketball Hall of Famer is probably right too that much of the blame falls on Davis. Even O’Neal’s fellow TNT co-host thinks as much.

Photo: Mar 10, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; NBA former player Shaquille O’Neal watches a game between the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors in the third quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 105-99. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers have worrying update on Anthony Davis injury

Anthony Davis in his Lakers uniform

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis sat out Friday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it sounds like there is some concern that he may miss more time.

Davis appeared on the injury report Friday with knee soreness, and was held out of Friday’s game. After the game, coach Frank Vogel suggested that doctors want to take a look at the knee before Davis plays again.

As standard as this may be, it’s still a worrying quote from Vogel. The fact that doctors want a closer look suggests that this may be more than routine soreness.

Davis has actually been healthy this season despite his injury-prone reputation. That hasn’t shielded him from criticism as the Lakers have struggled out of the gate. If he misses time, the team’s task gets even tougher.

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley has strong message for Anthony Davis

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

Charles Barkley delivered a strong message towards Anthony Davis on Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling early this season as many people predicted they would. They entered Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics 12-12.

There have been recent rumors about coach Frank Vogel being on the hot seat, and Barkley thinks that’s garbage. The TNT analyst spoke on Tuesday and pointed the finger at Davis for the Lakers’ struggles. He thinks Vogel is being wrongly targeted and believes Davis needs to step up.

“[The Lakers] put all them old a– geezers together and just trying to blame other people. It ain’t right and it ain’t cool,” Barkley said. “Listen, Anthony Davis, you got to play better. I said if the Lakers were going to be any good, it was all going to be on you. It has nothing to do with Russell, it had nothing to do with LeBron and the rest of them old a— geezers they put together. But now you crossed the line, because I really like Frank Vogel. It ain’t his fault.

“In my opinion, I blame Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis, I like you as a person. But you ain’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re 27 years old. You’re supposed to be in your prime. You’re supposed to be one of the five best players in the world. And you ain’t holding up your end of the bargain.”

Whether he’s right or wrong is a matter of opinion, but that sort of take is likely to light a fire under Davis’ rear. The Lakers’ front office should pay Barkley for his commentary, especially if it results in some improved play.

Photo: November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis offers surprising opinion on LeBron James suspension

Anthony Davis in his Lakers uniform

LeBron James was suspended one game for smacking Isaiah Stewart in the face during Sunday night’s Los Angeles Lakers-Detroit Pistons game. His hard shot at Stewart caused his opponent to bleed and then go crazy on the Lakers. Both players were ejected for their actions.

Most people who watched the incident knew right away that James would be suspended for his harsh and unnecessary blow to Stewart’s face. One person who felt otherwise was Anthony Davis.

The Lakers big man said on Tuesday that he was surprised James got suspended. Davis didn’t view James’ actions as anything unusual.

“The report came out and said his hit to the face caused the incident, which is weird because he can’t control how a guy is going to react. Guys get hit in the face all the time,” Davis said.

If Davis thinks that James’ smack to the face of Stewart was nothing out of the ordinary, he should watch the replay. James took a vicious shot at Stewart that the league called “reckless.” Stewart also wouldn’t have reacted the way he did if the shot from James weren’t significant.

Playing without James on Tuesday, the Lakers lost 106-100 to the Knicks. They are now 9-10.

Photo: Dec 18, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports