KFC Finger Lickin' Good Deal

#IMHO: Anthony Davis, Kevin Garnett and Jaren Jackson Jr., and LeBron

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.


From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 9:29 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

And just like that, the NBA got flipped-turned upside down.

This week sure started with a bang, as Monday morning work broke that New Orleans Pelicans franchise center Anthony Davis would not accept a supermax extension worth $240-ish million this summer, and instead wanted to be "traded to a team that allows him the chance to win consistently and compete for a championship."

So that's where we find ourselves, roughly one week before the NBA trade deadline. We all agree that Davis is a generational talent, and the only real knock against him has been his durability. He's clearly worth the supermax extension. He just doesn't want it. At least not from the Pelicans.

My question to you is, what happens next? If you're the Pelicans, and you're being publicly put in this position by Davis, what is your next move?

Anthony Davis

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2019 4:19:03 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: RE: #IMHO

Let’s make this very clear: The Pelicans are operating on their own timetable and not Davis’s or that of his representatives. This season is going nowhere for New Orleans at this point. And Davis is under contract with them through 2020. So you know what that means? It means New Orleans has through next week’s trade deadline, this coming summer and next year’s trade deadline with which to work if so desired.

Time is on their side. All that said, Davis has done everything in his power to carry the franchise. He’s developed into a top-5 talent and has given the franchise seven years to build around him. The Pelicans have tried and caught some bad breaks. Now, it’s time to set the personal aside and make the best professional deal. They’ve done it before, when Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West departed from New Orleans teams that got much farther than the squads Davis has had. And the Pelicans should regroup again.

Lang, as we close in on the Feb. 7 trade deadline, we’ve both worked with national NBA media outlets along the way. What’s the best story you’ve heard or reported on how a player learned he was being traded? Mine was when former Heat first-round pick Daequan Cook found out Miami traded him in the summer of 2010 just seconds after he came down one of those huge, winding waterslides at an amusement park. He gleefully walked out of the splash pool, reached for his towel but then saw the missed call and text from the team. He damn-near literally went from laughing to crying in seconds.

Anthony Davis

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 8:25 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: RE: #IMHO

First of all, shoutout to Daequan Cook! I just hope they didn't trade him somewhere cold.

I don't have any stories that great. I do recall one year at the Draft finding out a guy was being traded before he had been told he was being traded. Which made for a weird interview when I couldn't tell him that I knew what he didn't know. This also makes me think of last year's draft, when the Sixers drafted Mikal Bridges, the son of a Sixers employee (his Mom is their HR director), and then traded him to Phoenix moments after his mother waxed poetic about how lucky the family was.

So everyone in Memphis of late has been talking about Marc and Mike and what their future holds. But last week you got to spend some time with the youngest player in the NBA, Jaren Jackson Jr., who has nothing but a bright future ahead of him, as he spent time with Kevin Garnett. You wrote about it at length for Grind City Media, and it left me curious: What was your biggest takeaway from watching the two of them interact?

JJJ and Kevin Garnett

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 10:59 AM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: #IMHO

The first thing that stood out seeing the two together is that Jaren has grown a bit. Garnett never wanted to be listed as a 7-footer, and is likely 7-1. But he’s always listed at 6-11. With both in gym shoes and athletic gear, Jaren only appeared a smidge shorter than Garnett. The height difference was far more pronounced when the two got together last summer before the draft.

The second thing that resonated with me was how meticulous and detail-oriented KG was with what he wanted to accomplish and how he wanted to communicate it to Jackson. The fact that Garnett showed the professionalism and respect for J.B. Bickerstaff and the Grizzlies’ coaching staff to make sure J.B. was in the room as he went over film with Jaren was a big-time plus for me. K.G. certainly didn’t have to take that small, but meaningful step to do that.

And last, but hardly least, how genuinely invested Garnett was in Jackson. There were so many outtakes and side scenes that I couldn’t cram into the story. But there was one when Jaren and K.G. were talking off camera, and K.G. told Jaren to make sure he takes a moment to look up into the rafters in every NBA arena and take a mental note of the greats who had jerseys retired and numbers hanging up there. He told Jaren that one day it would be him, but that you have to respect and acknowledge greatness in order to become one of them. It was a subtle, but powerful moment about how not to take anything for granted from the moment you walk into every arena in the league.

I could go on and on about that, Lang. But we should get out of here on this: The All-Star Game captains will pick their teams soon. LeBron gets the first choice. Who’s he taking? Kevin Durant or Steph Curry, to make sure he wins the game? Or Anthony Davis, just to troll the entire basketball universe?

Lebron James

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 7:06 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Televise the draft, everyone said. It’ll be fun, everyone said.

Well, I sure hope some of the NBA’s Powers That Be have a sense of humor when LeBron takes Anthony Davis with his first pick. Because you know that is happening. His Instagram comment on Davis’s clothing may have been fake, but LeBron has a good sense of humor, and given the chance to get tongues wagging, I don’t see him passing up the opportunity. Fans would love it, even if when you really think about it, Davis isn’t quite the type of big man who has flourished alongside James in the past.

But what if James doesn’t pick the Brow? I can see five other viable options:

  1. Kevin Durant, who has also had a turn on the free agency rumor merry-go-round this year.
  2. Kyrie Irving, who apparently reconciled with King James, and, yeah, could be a free agent.
  3. Kawhi Leonard, who will be a free agent this summer and has California ties.
  4. Steph Curry, who went to college in North Carolina and has enduring popularity.
  5. Kemba Walker, who hits free agency this summer and should get a lot of love from the hometown crowd.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. Their sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and they have no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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