NBA Star Power Index: Pelicans' Anthony Davis changes trade tune; Warriors' Kevin Durant already belongs with the GOATs
Also, Damian Lillard has amazing perspective, and Steph Curry caught on tape taking a dig at the Rockets?
Welcome back to the NBA Star Power Index -- a weekly gauge of the players who are most controlling the buzz around the league. Reminder: Inclusion on this list isn't necessarily a good thing. It simply means that you're capturing the NBA world's attention. Also, this is not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order as it pertains to the buzz they're generating. This column will run every week through the end of the regular season.
The trade that didn't happen was still the talk of All-Star Weekend. At media availability Saturday morning in Charlotte, Davis Celtics were never on his list of preferred teams. Davis then went even further, saying that no teams, in fact, are being ruled out.that the
A source close to the situation told CBS Sports over All-Star Weekend that the Pelicans also consider all 29 teams to be in play, which is a big reason why they held off trading Davis to the Lakers before the Feb. 7 deadline. "You have leverage when you have two teams interested in a player," the source said. "With Anthony Davis, everyone is interested [on some level]."
It's true. We've seen teams willing to trade for potential one-year-rental superstars. The Thunder did it for Paul George. The Raptors did it for Kawhi Leonard. Sources have told CBS Sports that the Nuggets were kicking the Davis tires at the deadline. It's safe to assume the same of a lot of teams, and as such, there isn't a team out there that should be ruled out in potential future Davis trade talks. The way the Pelicans see it, that means there is a lot more information to be gleaned before making a decision. "How do certain players perform in the playoffs?" the source said. "Who is going to end up with the No. 1 pick? This is all information that's still out there."
In the end, the Pelicans believe they can take their time gathering information, pursue a July trade with the Boston Celtics that includes Jayson Tatum -- who, sources say, is the only young player involved in talks so far that New Orleans feels has the potential to become a top-10 player -- and if all that falls through, the Lakers will still be there waiting with the same offer. Sources I've spoken with around the league believe that to be true as well. The Lakers are getting desperate. For now, New Orleans still has the leverage.
Lillard made news this week by going on the Posted Up podcast with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes and saying he's by asking for a trade out of Portland. Lillard said a lot more than this in his sound bite. His perspective is amazing without being a knock on anyone who has chosen a different career path in pursuit of a championship. Lillard merely said that to him, speaking for nobody else, it is about more than championships, that these decisions impact people's lives and families beyond his own. It's worth reading a bigger chunk of Lillard's perspective. From Yahoo Sports:
"I do want to win a championship but it's other stuff that means more to me. It's almost like I'm not willing to sell myself out for that."
He's also started to appreciate those around him, from coaches to trainers to teammates, and what one ripple can do throughout an organization.
"Obviously we all play to win a championship. I want to win a championship. I compete to win a championship. But I've learned that it's about so many other things, the relationships, the impact that you have on other people and their lives, and the impact that you can have on their careers. So, for me, I enjoy that."
Lillard gave the scenario where if he were to ask out, it would "ruin stuff for other people," such as moving players to other teams — gutting the roster to rebuild, for example — or waiving players, thereby potentially ending a career. That all doesn't only impact a player, but an entire family, he pointed out.
"And it could affect too many people for one. Two, you can go somewhere else and you're not guaranteed to win a championship. So, I mean for reasons like that, I'm just like man, I'm more into where I am as a person, you know, the relationships and the impact that it could have on people … When my career is over I'm going to know the relationships that I'm going to have, I'm going to know the people who knew I was solid with them regardless if it was at the top or if i controlled all this stuff that I did it the right way, that I took people's situations and their families and what could be into consideration before I just made a decision based off all right this is what would be best for me. This is what people want to see me do."
Kevin Durant took home All-Star MVP, adding to his two straight NBA Finals MVPs and one league MVP and four scoring titles as he continues to pile on to a legacy that is getting impossible to define as anything other than one of the greatest ever. He just looks like he's playing a different game than everyone else.
Even LeBron can't get his shot with the ease that Durant can. Whether it's a fade-away from the post, a pull-up jumper off the bounce or a 25-foot 3-pointer with a hand in his face, you're shocked when it doesn't go in. I spent Saturday morning in Charlotte asking a bunch of All-Stars what skills they would take from certain players to, and nearly every one of them just said they would take K.D.'s total "skill set" -- which is another way of saying K.D. is pretty much the perfect basketball player. With that size and length, with that jumper and those ball skills, with the evolving elite defense, is there any way to really argue this?
In the four minutes Dirk Nowitzki played in the All-Star Game, he banged three 3-pointers -- on three tries.
Before the All-Star Game, I was debating with one of our producers whether Dirk is an all-time great shooter. He said yes. I said no. Dirk is just a 38 percent 3-point shooter for his career. As an almost entirely perimeter-oriented scorer, Nowitzki's 47 percent overall shooting percentage is impressive. With how he changed the way bigs are used and seen as primary perimeter threats, Nowitzki is a revolutionary shooter, no doubt. He's a great shooter. But one of the greatest ever? Purely shooting? I would say no.
To me, all-time great is top 10 at least, and there are 10 better shooters than Dirk over the course of the NBA's 73-year history. Steph Curry, Ray Allen, Klay Thompson, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Dale Ellis and Kevin Durant are undebatable off the top of my head. You can debate the guys who are too old for me to have seen.
Either way, when Dirk came out and defended all tall people around the world, he cemented another kind of legendary status.
Dwyane Wade said after his final All-Star Game, in which he scored seven points in a little over 10 minutes of action, that the one thing he wanted to do most was . Well, he did it, and LeBron threw one back to Wade for good measure.
Like Dirk, having Wade in this game in his last season was an incredibly smart move by the NBA. Wade is one of the greatest players ever -- for my money, he's the third-best shooting guard in history behind Jordan and Kobe -- and for the NBA to allow the fans to see him one more time playing alongside LeBron was amazing. Wade can clearly still play. He is retiring on his own terms. What a career we're all watching wrap up.
If you didn't know, Steph Curry is the man in Charlotte. They were playing his old Davidson games from 10 years ago at the bar for crying out loud. When he rattled off 19 straight makes-- his final 10 of the first round and his first nine of the final round -- the crowd rose to its feet like a gladiator was entering the Coliseum.
OK, maybe that's dramatic. But you get the point. Hornets star Kemba Walker is approaching hero status, but pretty much nobody can touch Curry in Charlotte. That honestly might include Michael Jordan. As for the All-Star Game, Curry was a disappointment outside of a few crazy plays. He almost always struggles with his shot in the ASG. But he did make arguably with this -- shall we say -- bounce pass to Giannis:
Curry made the most waves during a conversation with Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer -- in which Curry broke down a conversation he had with James Harden that could've been perceived as a dig at Harden and/or the Rockets' style -- that Curry perhaps didn't realize was being taped.
"It's interesting because I was talking to James in the back, obviously complimented him on what he's done," Curry was caught saying to Budenholzer. "The first thing he said was like, 'Yeah, this is fun, but I wanna play different [than] like playing by myself, whatever, hero ball.' But like the people want him to play like that in a system where they can actually play beautiful basketball with guys that know how to play."
The NBA. Where drama is king.
Bealto tampering during All-Star Weekend, saying he used the gathering of stars to pitch guys on coming to play with him in Washington.
If this was LeBron saying this, there would be a federal case opened. That is all.
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