And at this stage in James' career, with three championships, eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances to his name and an equally burgeoning business and political profile off the court, James is a transcendent star.,Johnson said the Lakers didn't want to make the team like the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again for James.,James was just starting to find his footing with this new cast in Los Angeles.,Since his return from injury, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 109.6 when James is on the floor in four wins; the Lakers have a defensive rating of 113.1 when James is on the floor in the eight losses.,Most of the roster wasn't going to be back next year anyway, given the team's insistence on signing players to only one-year contracts to preserve salary-cap space for a second star this summer.

USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James’ team won the All-Star Game, but that’s not the only reason why he had a ton of fun over the past few days.,READ MORE: NBA commentary from columnist Martin Rogers CLICK ROLL: Get exclusive content with our NBA newsletter He just spent a nice little break with a group of elite players, especially those he selected for his own team to take on Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo), that he’d love to be playing with every night.,And there's plenty to suggest that the closest James will get to his preferred Dream Team just passed by over the weekend, or will once again come and go at next year’s All-Star break.,Autoplay Show Thumbnails Show Captions read more

Most of the drama centered around Anthony Davis, whose agent tried his damnedest to force a trade from New Orleans to Los Angeles ahead of last Thursday’s deadline.,But despite Rich Paul’s best efforts to bully the Pelicans into making a move, Davis is still in New Orleans, where he’ll remain until the trade frenzy really kicks up this summer.,But Davis’ camp really didn’t want to wait until this summer, and really wanted their player to join forces with LeBron James in L.A. Paul just so happens to represent the Lakers’ superstar/NBA commissioner.,According to Sean Deveney of the Sports News, the Celtics were none-too-pleased with Paul’s antics during the Davis drama, accusing him of planting the story that Kyrie Irving was no longer set on signing a long-term deal with the Celtics in the summer, and wanted to join the Knicks instead:

The Celtics were annoyed by the story of Irving having eyes for New York, not because of Irving, but because they felt the story was planted by Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, in order to scare the Pelicans into thinking Boston would back off making a trade offer for Davis in July if Irving left.,After Irving declared his intentions to re-up with Boston at an October season ticket holder event, we hadn’t heard anything about his future until Davis let the world know he wanted out of New Orleans. read more

ESPN, along with other media outlets, reported Thursday afternoon that the Pelicans sent forward Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round draft picks.,Mirotic, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, both of which are career highs.,The Pelicans also officially announced Thursday that the team had acquired forward Markieff Morris, as well as a 2023 second round draft pick, from the Washington Wizards in exchange for forward Wesley Johnson.,Morris is a former lottery pick was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, one spot before his twin brother and Kansas University teammate Marcus.,In 26 games (13 starts), the former lottery pick out of Syracuse averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds.

NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis will play the rest of the season as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans afterall.,The ensuing weeks saw the superstar Davis’ relationship with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall, his relationship and desire to play alongside LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, and Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps handling of the situation dominate regional and national headlines.,“Anthony Davis will play the remainder of the 2018-19 season for the New Orleans Pelicans,” Demps wrote in a statement.,Ultimately, Anthony made it clear to us that he wants to play and he gives our team the best opportunity to win games.,Davis is a three-time All-NBA First Team selection, has been named to the All-Defensive Team three times, selected as an All-Star six times and is a yearly candidate for league MVP.

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, with all due respect to local football fans following the Rams' Super Bowl defeat, thinks his team has some similarities to the NFL champion New England Patriots.,"I think early on they were facing a ton of adversity," Pelinka said on a conference call with reporters Friday to discuss his team's NBA trade deadline deals.,The Clippers' deal opened a roster spot, and Pelinka said the team is evaluating "a handful" of players to fill it -- either now or closer to the March 1 deadline to add a player and have him be playoff eligible.,Continuing the Patriots' parallel, Pelinka compared Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman to the players the Lakers added, noting how New England found its rhythm after the slot receiver returned from a four-game suspension, much the same way he hopes the Lakers find their stride now.,Pelinka confirmed a Los Angeles Times report that detailed Johnson's plan to meet the team in Philadelphia -- Pelinka said Johnson is attending a reunion celebrating Michigan State's 1979 NCAA championship as he makes his way west to east.

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The fact that the Pelicans could trade Anthony Davis without the Celtics being able to make an offer is hard enough for Boston fans to handle at the moment.,While the news since last summer has been largely about stars not interested in being LeBron’s sidekick—George’s decision to re-sign with the Thunder, Jimmy Butler not having the Lakers on his reported preferred list and Kawhi Leonard reportedly favoring the Clippers—a source close to the Celtics confirmed that Kyrie Irving is genuinely interested in reuniting with his former Cavaliers teammate.,What’s odd is that Kyrie nugget was buried at the bottom of Bucher’s column on the Davis trade request.,Davis demanded a trade from New Orleans on Monday, and if the Pelicans deal him before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, the Celtics would have to sit out the sweepstakes if Irving isn’t part of the deal due to the NBA’s “Rose Rule.”,Boston has been long-enamored by Davis and Danny Ainge has the young talent and future draft picks to make an enticing offer this summer, but they may not even get a shot at adding the franchise-altering talent of Davis. read more

USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James’ return to action definitely wasn’t "back in no time," as he promised post-Christmas, but it was worth the wait for the Los Angeles Lakers.,In a thrilling 123-120 overtime victory over the local rival Los Angeles Clippers, James put his team ahead for the final time on a nerveless jump shot with just over a minute remaining to set up the win.,So much for the Lakers watching James’ playing time carefully as he came back from a groin strain sustained against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.,At the time of the injury, James seemed mightily relieved that the groin strain he sustained was not more serious.,Back when James got hurt while reaching for a loose ball against the Warriors, a partnership with Davis was nothing more than a mere possibility, and one far more likely to happen later than sooner. read more

If you’re willing to bet on Kansas City’s future as an NBA city, there is a place to make that wager.,The online gambling site Bovada has listed this question: “If the New Orleans Pelicans are relocated before game 1 of the 2020-2021 which city will they be relocated to?”,Star player Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the Pelicans and apparently there is some doubt about the franchise’s future, at least at Bovada.,However, Rita Benson, who took ownership of the Pelicans last March after the death of her father, has made no mention of moving the team.,Sign Up and Save

Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star read more

Nor is it likely to end well for a lot of Lakers, some of whom could be New Orleans-bound in a trade for Anthony Davis … or cut for salary cap space, like the eight of them who are on one-year deals, to bring in more free agents like Klay Thompson … or unemployed like Coach Luke Walton if Magic Johnson holds him responsible for any shortfall.,I don’t see a second-round loss going over well with Johnson, not after he read Walton the riot act seven games into the season, then, in as close as he felt like coming to reassuring everyone publicly, said Luke would, “finish this season unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”,It’s still emerging with last week’s report by ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski that Magic has wanted a new coach since he took over, but has yet to convince Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Walton.,Despite his cachet, James hasn’t been a behind-the-scenes schemer … aside from all his player recruiting … although Riley, whom LeBron left high and dry, late revealed that LeBron hinted that he would like him to fire Coach Erik Spoelstra during LeBron’s first season in Miami without coming out and actually asking him to do it.,A recent report from ESPN’s uber-connected Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has wanted a new coach since he took over in February of 2017, but has yet to convince team owner Jeanie Buss, who is “fiercely loyal” to Luke Walton, left.