TRADE FLURRY: Pistons S. Johnson for Bucks’ Maker; Raptors’ Richardson to 76ers & Heat closing deal on T. Johnson

Pistons agree to trade Stanley Johnson to Bucks for Thon Maker

Adrian Wojnarowski • ESPN

The Detroit Pistons have agreed to trade forward Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks for center Thon Maker, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The deal involving two former lottery picks is a chance for both young players to accelerate their careers in fresh environments.

Johnson, 22, is averaging 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in his fourth NBA season with Detroit. Johnson was the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Johnson gives the Bucks, who have the NBA’s best record at 39-13, another strong wing defender as they prepare for a playoff push. He can become a restricted free agent this summer.

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The 7-foot-1 Maker, who is eligible to negotiate a rookie contract extension this offseason, has shown stretches of promise in the league, but he has been in and out of the Bucks’ rotation throughout the season. He was part of the team’s second unit when Ersan Ilyasova was injured, but forward D.J. Wilson has usurped more of Maker’s minutes in recent weeks.

Sources told ESPN in January that Maker, who is averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds while averaging 11.7 minutes in 35 games this season, had told Bucks management that he would prefer to be traded to a team that would provide a larger role. He’ll get an opportunity for playing time with Dwane Casey.

Maker, 21, was the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25937747/detroit-pistons-agree-trade-stanley-johnson-milwaukee-bucks-thon-maker

Raptors trade Malachi Richardson to 76ers to clear roster spot

Yahoo Sports

Richardson has played 22 games for the Raptors this season, averaging 1.4 points in 4.7 minutes per contest. The 23-year-old has 70 NBA games under his belt and four starts.

Preldzic is a 31-year-old Bosnian forward who has been traded a number of times without making an NBA appearance.

Neither piece is particularly significant, the tweak appears to be designed to set the Raptors up for a trade or signing in the near future.

https://sports.yahoo.com/raptors-trade-malachi-richardson-76ers-clear-roster-spot-195708091.html

Report: Heat close to deal to send Tyler Johnson to SunsReport: Heat close to deal to send Tyler Johnson to Suns

Clippers deal Tobias Harris to the 76ers; Woj explains how this trade shakes up the NBA

Tim Bontemps • ESPN

PHILADELPHIA — In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, what already has been a wild NBA trade deadline received another boost when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Philadelphia 76ers completed a blockbuster deal with the LA Clippers for forward Tobias Harris.

The full deal — Philadelphia getting Harris, center Boban Marjanovic and forward Mike Scott in exchange for forward Wilson Chandler, guard Landry Shamet, center Mike Muscala, Philadelphia’s 2020 first-round pick, the Miami Heat‘s unprotected 2021 first-round pick and two second-rounders — has wide-ranging implications around the league.

Here’s a quick rundown:

1. Philadelphia’s star-laden starting five

By adding Harris — and not sacrificing any of their top four players to do so — Philadelphia now has a starting five of Ben SimmonsJJ RedickJimmy Butler, Harris and Joel Embiid. The only team that can compare to them in the league at this point are the Golden State Warriors. After this move, Philadelphia can at least dream about reaching the NBA Finals this June.

Harris is the ideal piece to slot in next to Philadelphia’s other stars. He’s a terrific shooter (hitting 43.4 percent of his 3-pointers this season, and shooting just less than 50 percent overall) and can fit in tandem with any of Philly’s stars — something that will matter greatly as the Sixers are going to be searching for plenty of depth. But Philadelphia should be able to have a minimum of two, if not three, of these five on the floor at any one time, which can help mitigate those depth issues.

2. A full-scale search for a bench

Even after making this move for Harris, Philadelphia is still staring at the glaring weakness it had before doing this deal: athleticism off the bench. Scott will replace Muscala as the team’s backup power forward (where he’s actually a better fit), while Marjanovic will give them an intriguing look against bigger backup big men and Jonah Bolden can possibly get spot minutes against smaller ones.

Among backup guards and wings, though, here is Philadelphia’s current assortment of players: T.J. McConnellFurkan Korkmaz, and injured guards Markelle Fultz and Zhaire Smith. Assuming Philadelphia doesn’t turn Fultz into players who can help now — and coach Brett Brown said Tuesday Fultz isn’t anywhere close to returning — expect the Sixers to be a heavy player for any guard on the buyout market who springs free. Wesley Matthews is the most obvious name, but any other that pops up will immediately garner interest. Corey Brewer also is likely to make a return to the roster once the deadline passes.

3. Clippers retooling … and resetting

One of the questions executives around the league have been pondering over the past several weeks is the Clippers’ direction at the deadline. Facing the possibility of handing over their first-round pick if they make the playoffs, would the Clippers actually go for it? Or would they instead pivot and use their many interesting players on expiring deals to net future assets?

LA chose the latter. And doing so netted the Clippers an incredible haul in all of these picks. That doesn’t even include Shamet, who has been one of the most pleasant surprises from this rookie class.

4. The race to the top of the Eastern Conference just got tougher

Assuming Philadelphia is able to pull this off and keep Simmons, Butler, Harris and Embiid together long term, the Sixers should be a threat in the East for years to come. More importantly, they clearly are going for it this season.

The question now is how do the other contenders — the Boston CelticsToronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks — react? The Bucks have likely already made their big moves, while the Celtics have to wait until the offseason to make the swing they’ve been plotting for years — trying to land Anthony Davis. (Note: The Clippers almost certainly missing the playoffs also means that Boston will have to wait to see if it can get their pick in 2020. If the Clippers miss the playoffs this season and next, that first becomes two second-round picks.)

That leaves the Raptors as the team most likely to counter with an aggressive move, and it won’t be a surprise if Toronto does something significant between now and Thursday afternoon.

The Raptors have every incentive to go for it this season. Leonard is a free agent and Toronto has always had to play catch-up to try to convince him to stay. Masai Ujiri has never been scared of making a move. Whether the Raptors can find the right move remains to be seen, but don’t expect them to let the deadline pass without turning over every possibility.

5. The race to the bottom of the Western Conference just got easier

This also should clear the path for the No. 8 seed to go to the Los Angeles LakersSacramento Kings or Minnesota Timberwolves. Even if the Clippers might be able to hang in the race without Harris, it’s hard to imagine they will stop selling now. And if they do continue to strip away players from the roster, they’ll ensure they slip down the standings.

However, the Lakers, Kings and Wolves will all be pushing to make the playoffs. The Lakers are still chasing Anthony Davis but lost by 42 points to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. They could be active whether they get Davis or not, and already traded for Reggie Bullockto give them a defensive presence on the wing. The Kings — the NBA’s biggest surprise this season — would seem to now only be more determined to get a small forward to help stop the league’s longest playoff drought.

And while Minnesota suffered a brutal loss to the Memphis Grizzlieson Tuesday, the Wolves are only 1.5 games behind the Lakers. Make no mistake, either: The Wolves would absolutely love to make the postseason after firing Tom Thibodeau earlier this season.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25935392/how-tobias-harris-trade-shakes-nba

HOOP HANGOUT • NBA GAMEDAY POST • February 6th 2019

USA Today Sports

Giannis, Bucks drop 148 points on Wizards for 40th win

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 43 points, Eric Bledsoe had 22 points and 11 assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 148-129 on Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

The Bucks shot 60 percent (56 for 93) from the field and placed six players in double figures while becoming the first NBA team with 40 victories. Malcolm Brogdon had 18 points, and Khris Middletonfinished with 16.

Washington trailed by as many as 25 in the first half, but closed to 120-113 on Chasson Randle‘s layup with 10:22 left.

Bledsoe helped finish off the Wizards with 10 points in a quick scoring flurry, including a dunk off a missed free throw by Antetokounmpo. He made a 3-pointer with 7:07 remaining to make it 138-118.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 30 points, and Thomas Bryant had 26. Jeff Green finished with 22 points for his fourth straight game with 20 or more.

WARRIORS 141, SPURS 102

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant had 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, and Golden State ran away from San Antonio in the second and third quarters.

The two-time defending champions scored 49 points on 16 assists in the third quarter alone, making 5 of 7 3-pointers. They made 24 of 25 field goals in one blistering stretch spanning halftime — including 14 straight shots at one point.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points for Golden State, and Stephen Curry finished with 19 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.

Patty Mills scored 16 points with four 3s for San Antonio in the first game of a back-to-back. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan got the night off.

MAVERICKS 99, HORNETS 93

DALLAS — Luka Doncic scored 19 points in his third triple-double, Dorian Finney-Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds and new-look Dallas made another move by trading Harrison Barnes while beating Charlotte.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 12 points in his Dallas debut after the blockbuster deal that brought Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks.

Barnes played into the third quarter before reports of a trade with Sacramento surfaced. He was on the bench but didn’t play in the fourth quarter. Barnes scored seven of his 10 points in the third.

Kemba Walker had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, who got swept by Dallas after losing to the Mavericks by 38 points at home about a month ago.

NETS 135, NUGGETS 130

NEW YORK — D’Angelo Russell had 27 points and 11 assists, and Brooklyn surpassed last season’s win total by beating Denver.

Russell made six of the Nets’ 19 3-pointers, one game after they made only five as a team in their poorest shooting performance of the season.

DeMarre Carroll added 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Brooklyn (29-27), which got two key injured players back and led by 21 points in ending a three-game skid. Joe Harris scored 17 points and Treveon Graham had 16, with four 3-pointers.

Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in his 10th triple-double of the season for the Nuggets, who have lost two straight games to fall out of a tie for the Western Conference lead.

PELICANS 125, BULLS 120

CHICAGO — Julius Randle scored 31 points, and New Orleans beat struggling Chicago with All-Star Anthony Davis watching from the bench.

Davis was healthy enough to return from a sprained left index finger that has sidelined him since Jan. 18. But the Pelicans opted to hold him out with Thursday’s trade deadline approaching.

The six-time All-Star has made it known he wants out of New Orleans.

Randle scored 19 in a blistering fourth quarter and finished six points shy of his season high.

Jrue Holiday and Cheick Diallo each scored 18, and Chicago product Jahlil Okafor finished with 13 points.

Lauri Markkanen led Chicago with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 28, and Kris Dunn added 18 points and eight assists.

ROCKETS 127, KINGS 101

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — James Harden made eight 3-pointers and scored 36 points, helping Houston beat Sacramento.

The Rockets won their third straight game, and they appeared to be on the verge of adding Iman Shumpert to their array of talented shooters. Gerald Green matched his season high with 25 points, and Eric Gordon scored 20 points.

Houston, Sacramento and Cleveland were working on a trade that will most notably send Shumpert from the Kings to the Rockets.

Buddy Hield had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings.

JAZZ 116, SUNS 88

SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell scored 21 points and Joe Ingleshad a career-high 11 assists, leading Utah past Phoenix.

Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 12 rebounds as Utah won for the fifth time in seven games. Ingles and reserve Royce O’Neale each finished with 15 points.

Phoenix committed 22 turnovers in its 12th straight loss. Josh Jackson matched his season high with 27 points, and DeAndre Ayton had 20 points and nine rebounds.

Lakers agree to trade with Pistons for Reggie Bullock

ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers agreed to a trade Tuesday night, but it wasn’t the one many of their fans were hoping for.

Amid all the Anthony Davis talk, the Lakers agreed in principle to trade guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for guard Reggie Bullock, a source confirmed to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

The deal gives LeBron James & Co. a much-needed 3-point threat.

Bullock, 27, is in his fourth season with the Pistons, averaging 12 points and shooting 38 percent on 6.6 3-point attempts per game.

According to Second Spectrum, Bullock is shooting 39.8 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers this season. That would rank first among Lakers players with at least 50 catch-and-shoot 3s.

Detroit will create a $2.5 million trade exception with the deal. Bullock is in the final year of his contract, and the Lakers will inherit his Bird rights this summer.

Mykhailiuk, 21, was drafted by the Lakers with the 47th pick last year, and he is in the first year of a three-year, $4.6 million contract. The Pistons have until July 5 to guarantee his $1.4 million contract for the 2019-20 season. The former Kansas star is averaging 3 points in 10.7 minutes per game this season.

http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/25934645/lakers-agree-trade-pistons-reggie-bullock

Lakers’ fall to Pacers by 42 points is worst loss by LeBron James-led team in history

Ryan Young • Yahoo Sports

To say the Los Angeles Lakers struggled on Tuesday night would be an understatement.

The Lakers fell to the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse 136-94 on Tuesday, marking their second-straight loss. The 42-point blunder also marked the worst loss by any LeBron James-led team in his 16-year NBA career when he’s played. He has previously lost by 36 points twice.

It was that bad.

The Lakers, who had fallen into a 23-point hole at halftime, never led in the contest. Late in the fourth quarter, the Pacers had easily built up a 46-point lead. And while their field goal percentage wasn’t awful — the Lakers shot 35-of-75 from the field — they went just 4-of-19 from behind the 3-point line.

“We know we have to be a lot better,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game, via Spectrum Sports Net. “There’s a million excuses that we can come up with — the travel, the first game coming across the country, all the trade, all everything else. But bottom line we have to be better, and we will be.”

Pacers fans had plenty of fun throughout the rout, too. They were heard chanting at multiple Lakers players, including once at Brandon Ingram while he was shooting free throws, yelling “LeBron’s going to trade you.”

James led the Lakers with 18 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, shooting 7-of-12 from the field. He did pass the 32,000-point mark on Tuesday, however, becoming just the fifth player in league history to do so.

JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson added 16 points and 13 points off the bench, respectively, and Ingram and Kyle Kuzma each added 12.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pacers with 24 points, shooting 10-of-17 from the field, and Myles Turner added 22 points. Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner and Domantas Sabonis each dropped 17 points off the bench.

The Lakers have been in turmoil ever since James injured his groin on Christmas Day. With him out for nearly five weeks, the Lakers plummeted in the Western Conference standings. The team has been vying for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis before the trade deadline, too, which, among other things, has reportedly caused multiple rifts in the locker room. There was even reportedly a “heated exchange” between multiple veterans and Walton on Saturday. While details of incident have been disputed, it’s clear that many on the Lakers are growing frustrated with the current state of the team.

“Tonight was not good,” Walton said. “We talk about our competitive spirit a lot. I praise our guys all the time about it … Tonight we didn’t have that spirit that we like to see. But look, there’s 82 games. It’s going to happen randomly throughout a season. The important thing is we just don’t let it happen again on Thursday.”

Walton, however, declined to say if Tuesday night’s blunder was partly a result of the uncertainty surrounding the team due to repeated trade rumors.

“It effects everyone differently,” Walton said. “I’ve seen and been part of teams where people can’t play because of it, and I’ve been on teams where nobody cares and you go out and do your job anyways. There’s not a specific answer to that. It’s different for everybody.”

https://sports.yahoo.com/lakers-fall-pacers-42-points-marking-worst-loss-lebron-james-led-team-history-023307181.html

Reports: Lakers pump brakes on more Anthony Davis offers

Cassandra Negley • Yahoo Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have made their intentions for New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis clear and are waiting to hear back, per varied reports Tuesday afternoon.

The Lakers made an offer for Davis, who included the team as one of four with whom he’d be willing to sign a long-term deal. Davis becomes a free agent in 2020. When the Pelicans were reportedly underwhelmed, the Lakers beefed up the deal Monday.

Lakers await word on best offer

The Los Angeles Times’ Broderick Turner reported that the Lakers “pulled out” of any additional conversations in the trade negotiations. Per the report, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson felt the team had made the “best offer that the Pelicans wanted” and did not want to add anything else. If New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps was not pleased with it, the Lakers would simply move on, per the report.

The deal as of late Monday night, according to the L.A. Times:

Pelicans acquire:

Players: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brando Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Picks: Two first-round selections

Lakers acquire: 

Solomon Hill, whose final year at $12.7 million will give Pelicans salary relief.

Anthony Davis, who, for what it’s worth, seems to be a fan of the deal.

The Times reported that the Lakers were not willing to give the Pelicans the six to eight draft picks they wanted. The original deal included Rajon RondoMichael Beasley and Lance Stephenson.

“They wanted more and more and more,” the Times quoted a source as saying. “… But the more they wanted the more it became outrageous and unrealistic.”

The report included a note that the Pelicans may be hoping if Davis isn’t traded by the deadline, he’ll take back his request and decide to play for New Orleans.

Lakers don’t want to be own worst enemy

Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday afternoon that the Lakers are still in for Davis, but “no longer want to bid against themselves.” He said the team is waiting for the Pelicans to make a counter-proposal.

The Lakers don’t want to give away more than they have to, seeing as they’re giving away quite a lot as it is. There are 48 hours until the trade deadline for the teams to get the deal done.

Davis reportedly would sign a long-term deal with the Lakers, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks or the Los Angeles Clippers, if traded. The Lakers are in one of the better positions to make the deal.

https://sports.yahoo.com/reports-lakers-pump-brakes-anthony-davis-offers-201342522.html

LaVar Ball unloads on Luke Walton, Magic Johnson and Anthony Davis; says Luke Walton turned Lonzo ‘into a loser’

Jason Owens • Yahoo Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are front and center in the NBA spotlight with reports swirling over their interest in a trade for Anthony Davis.

LaVar Ball is taking full advantage.

With the limelight glowing, new life has filled the LaVar hype machine, and he’s using the opportunity to rip the Lakers and their power players as Lonzo Ball is repeatedly mentioned in reported trade proposals.

LaVar rips Magic Johnson, Luke Walton

Magic Johnson is in LaVar’s crosshairs in a recent interview with the “Doug & Wolf” showon Arizona’s 98.7 FM, but head coach Luke Walton takes the brunt of his ire for turning Lonzo “into a loser.”

“Luke Walton was the worst coach he ever had,” LaVar told Doug & Wolf. “It was Magic [Johnson] the one who said he was going to be the dang face of the franchise. But Magic ain’t doing no coaching. And the only person to kill Lonzo is the coach pulling him out and not having no confidence in him.

“Everyone who’s had confidence in Lonzo just let him go and let him win. That’s what he does. He wins. Luke Walton turned him into a loser. A loser’s mentality is like, ‘Oh, he’s young, he’ll get it.’ Instead of going out there and letting him do what he does.”

LaVar trying to speak Walton out of existence

Notice how LaVar mentions Walton in the past tense while Walton is most certainly still Ball’s head coach. LaVar often talks about the power of speaking things into existence. That appears to be his strategy here as he’s trying to push a deal to get Lonzo to the Phoenix Suns.

LaVar seems resigned that Lonzo and the Lakers are done. He also seems to believe that his pipe dream of Lonzo playing in the NBA with his brothers LaMelo and LiAngelo is feasible, despite NBA teams expressing zero interest in LiAngelo. And he’s planning on that happening in Phoenix, even though the situation is completely out of his and Lonzo’s control.

“I gave the Lakers the first right of refusal to get all three of the Ball boys. They didn’t want that. I’m telling you. My boys are going to take over the NBA. They didn’t use Lonzo the right way. Put him in a corner.

“He makes everybody better. That’s why the Lakers look so raggedy right now. You can’t put him in the corner. He can’t make nobody better.”

Anthony Davis not safe from LaVar

LaVar also used the opportunity to take a shot at Davis, whose trade demand has catalyzed the talk of shipping Lonzo out of Los Angeles.

“AD is good. But he’s not a winner. How many playoff games has he won? He’s been in the league a long time, there’s a difference between players and winners.”

The trade talk between the Lakers and Pelicans is a constantly evolving storyline that won’t be played out until a deal is done or Thursday’s NBA trade deadline passes. If nothing is consummated by then, the story will just be put on pause until the offseason when talks will heat up again.

Until Lonzo’s situation is resolved, expect LaVar to continue pushing his agenda. Right now, that agenda appears to be to inflict as much damage as possible on the relationship between the Lakers and the Balls.

https://sports.yahoo.com/lavar-ball-rips-anthony-davis-says-luke-walton-turned-lonzo-loser-195945706.html