Celtics president Danny Ainge is confident All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will put a ring on his relationship with Boston this summer, saying the team and Irving have an “engagement.”
“The way I viewed the situation is that I think a lot of people, because of Kyrie’s announcement at the beginning of the year, thought that it was a marriage,” Ainge said on Boston radio, referring to Irving’s public proclamation last fall that he’d stay with the Celtics instead of pursuing free agency.
“And I think that it’s more like an engagement. And we’re going to get married on July 1st,” Ainge said, referring to the official start of NBA free agency in 2019.
Just last week, Irving, who can opt out of his contract after the season to test free agency, did not sound so sure of the commitment, saying he is going to do “what’s best for my career. ... Ask me July 1st.”
—LeBron James, in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, said he knows the reason for the flurry of trades at the NBA trading deadline, especially among Eastern Conference teams. It’s him.
James spent his first 15 seasons in the East — in Cleveland, Miami, then Cleveland again — and his teams have appeared in 13 consecutive postseasons, including eight straight NBA Finals. The Heat won two titles, the Cavaliers one.
“Those top teams in the East, yeah, they’re going for it,” James told The Athletic. “They know they ain’t gotta go through Cleveland anymore. Everybody in the East thinks they can get to the Finals because they ain’t gotta go through me.”
—Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson reportedly will hold a meeting with players after a failed attempt at trading many of them for New Orleans star Anthony Davis.
The meeting will be held this weekend in Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing two unnamed sources.
Johnson reportedly will stress that the pursuit of Davis was typical NBA business and that the Lakers’ goal is win championships.
—The New Orleans Pelicans held All-Star Anthony Davis out of action before the trade deadline, guarding against injury to their biggest star in case they worked out a deal to trade him, as he’d requested.
A trade did not materialize, and the Pelicans announced Thursday that Davis would re-enter the lineup. But ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Friday that Davis won’t be on the court as much as usual.
Wojnarowski said the Pelicans will reduce Davis’ playing time from his average of 37 minutes, and he might not play on back-to-back nights. Davis, who turns 26 next month, is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.
—For the first time in his NBA career, the uniform Marc Gasol puts on for his next game will not be the threads of the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol, informed in January he was on the trading block, was shipped to Toronto at the trade deadline on Thursday.
Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera issued a statement to thank Gasol for his 11 years of professionalism in Memphis, accompanied by a video on the team’s Twitter feed. The statement said Gasol’s jersey will be displayed at FedExForum.
“Marc ... plays with a heart and a passion for the game that helped carry this franchise to seven straight playoff appearances, but what Marc has done for this organization is about more than just basketball. He was a part of a core group of players that helped shape the identity of this franchise on and off the court and were embraced by the City of Memphis,” the statement said.
—The Detroit Pistons are close to signing free-agent guard Wayne Ellington, multiple outlets reported. According to Yahoo Sports, Detroit will waive forward Henry Ellenson to make room on the roster.
Ellington was bought out by the Phoenix Suns on Thursday after being traded to Phoenix by the Miami Heat in a deal that also sent Tyler Johnson to the Suns for Ryan Anderson.
—Markieff Morris’ stay in New Orleans did not last long. The Pelicans announced that they waived Morris, one day after acquiring the 29-year-old forward from the Washington Wizards.
New Orleans traded forward Wesley Johnson to the Wizards prior to Thursday’s trading deadline for Morris and a 2023 second-round draft choice.
—Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love returned from a toe injury to play against the Washington Wizards.
It was Love’s first action since Oct. 24, when he was shut down due to pain in his left foot the led to surgery in early November. He initially injured the toe during the preseason.
—The Philadelphia 76ers unveiled a statue of the late Moses Malone, hours before they were scheduled to retire Malone’s No. 2 at halftime of their game against the Denver Nuggets.
Malone becomes the seventh player featured on the 76ers’ Legends Walk, outside the team’s training facility in Camden, N.J., joining Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones. Erving’s sculpture was the sixth to go up last April.
Malone died of heart disease in September 2015 at age 60.
—Field Level Media