Lakers Rumors: Latest on Kyrie Irving Joining LeBron James, Anthony Davis

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, right, and Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving chat during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

A day after the Los Angeles Lakers finally landed Anthony Davis, a LeBron James-Kyrie Irving reunion is reportedly likelier than ever.

Sam Amick and David Aldridge of The Athletic reported Irving remains in play for the Lakers as they look to find a third star to pair with James and Davis.

The Aldridge report noted that Irving has wanted to play with Davis for “months,” which could give the Lakers a chance to land the All-Star point guard. Irving has been most regularly linked to the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets as he approaches unrestricted free agency. It seems like a virtual certainty that he will leave the Boston Celtics after two seasons.

That Irving and James would become teammates again seems laughable in some respects after their falling out in Cleveland. Irving’s trade request came in part because he was tired of playing second fiddle to LeBron, wanting to set out on his own terms.

The solo voyage proved tougher than expected. Irving butted heads with his young teammates in Boston, with frustration boiling over to the point Kyrie called LeBron in January to apologize.

“I had to call ‘Bron, and tell him I apologize for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips,” Irving told reporters. “I wanted to be the guy that led us to a championship. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.”

“…He’s been in this situation, been there with me, where I’ve been the young guy, been the 22-year-old kid, wanting everything, wanting everything right now,” Irving continued.

“The responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. And ‘Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him. Sometimes getting the most out of the group is not the easiest thing in the world. Fewer are meant for it or chosen for it. And I felt like the best person to call was him.”

LeBron has also hinted at a reunion on social media on multiple occasions.

A reunion still ultimately seems unlikely. Irving plans to sign with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While Roc Nation has players all around the league, the perception has been Irving signing with the company makes it likelier he’ll land in Brooklyn.

Jay-Z was a part-owner of the Nets before starting the sports representation arm of Roc Nation, and president chief of branding and strategy Michael Yormark is the twin brother of Nets president Brett Yorkmark.

The Lakers could have better luck at targeting Kemba Walker, who could be intrigued with the idea of leaving Charlotte for a championship contender. 

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Lonzo Ball Could Be Exactly What Zion Williamson Needs in New Orleans

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball (2) brings the ball up court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Zion Williamson is loaded with potential. He was likely destined for greatness, regardless of who his teammates were slated to be in his first few seasons of development. But the New Orleans Pelicans’ reported acquisition of Lonzo Ball may expedite the process.

Of course, Anthony Davis is the biggest piece of Saturday’s reported trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers, which saw three first-round picks, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart head to New Orleans, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. But the Pelicans also made out in the swap by getting a unique, team-first floor general in Ball.

There is certainly upside to everyone else on that end of the trade. Ingram is 6’9″ and has strong stretches as a point guard to his name. In 2017-18, from February 1 to the end of the season, Ingram averaged 17.7 points and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 51.6 percent from the three-point line.

Hart’s shooting numbers fell off a cliff in 2018-19, but he’s still around league average from three for his career (36.1%) and has shown positional versatility as a defender. And the draft picks, which include the No. 4 selection in Thursday’s draft, offer unquantifiable hope.

But Ball is the prospect who can move the needle for the Pelicans right away.

For his career, Ball has a 26.8 assist percentage, a 10.0 rebounding percentage, a 2.3 steal percentage and a 1.6 block percentage. No one in NBA history played at least 2,000 minutes and hit all four of those marks. If you drop block percentage from the equation, the entire list reads: Ball, Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Russell Westbrook.

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of their NBA basketball game at SAP Center on October 12, 2018 in San Jose, California. NOTE TO USER: User e

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

And all four of those numbers were slightly depressed in Ball’s second year, as he accepted a smaller role while playing alongside LeBron James.

During his rookie season, when he was the primary playmaker, it was easier to see the potential that made him the No. 2 pick of the 2017 draft.

“Lonzo Ball, for sure, presents some of the talents that Magic [Johnson] had,” Lakers legend James Worthy said midway through 2017-18, per ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “Not as tall, but he is 6’6″ and has the IQ, has a vision like no other.”

Ball seems to have eyes on the entire floor, whether he has the ball or not. And he rarely pounds the rock into the hardwood before he gets an assist. On the contrary, his touches seem to move on to the most open player almost immediately after he catches the ball.

His outlet passing is particularly impressive—praise generally reserved for bigs, since most guards seem intent on dribbling up the floor.

“As soon as players get used to the way he passes and they get some really good shooters around him, I think people will really appreciate him,” Worthy continued. “And they already have appreciated what he brings to the table, a very unselfish player.”

That unselfishness will do wonders for Zion, who figures to be one of the league’s most dangerous transition weapons from day one. If the big man is willing to run the floor, and his time at Duke certainly indicated he is, Ball will find him.

“Lonzo throwing lobs to Zion is everything the NBA needs!” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweeted.

On top of the fit with those two, Ball and Jrue Holiday figure to help each other as well. Sure, there’s some skill and role overlap, as there was with LeBron in L.A., but The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie pointed out an interesting separation of powers:

New Orleans has a chance to deploy two point guards whose strengths may help offset the other’s weaknesses. And, as Vecenie notes, defense is where the combination might be most dangerous.

Holiday and Ball can both defend positions 1 through 3. Switching all over the perimeter will be a cinch. Passing lanes will be synonymous with danger zones against this team. And when either one does get an interception, Zion will be off to the races. Good luck getting back on defense after all the turnovers New Orleans will force in 2019-20.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Now, while there’s plenty to be excited about for New Orleans, it’s not all roses. Ball has a glaring weakness that seriously limits his short-term ceiling.

Among the 621 players who attempted at least as many career threes, Ball is 549th in three-point percentage. He’s also 562nd in effective field-goal percentage.

Unless or until he can develop into at least an average threat from deep, defenses will be able to go under screens on Lonzo-led pick-and-rolls and cheat down to the paint when he’s off the ball. That will make life tougher on his teammates, at least in half-court settings.

There’s no reason he can’t remedy that, though. Lonzo shot 41.2 percent from three in college. And his unusual mechanics don’t have to prevent effectiveness. After all, Kevin Martin shot 38.4 percent from three during his career with a similar corkscrew release.

If that three starts falling for Lonzo, pick-and-rolls with Zion will be a nightmare to defend.

The other obvious drawback to this trade is that the Pelicans didn’t just jettison the best player in the deal, they sent a top-three to top-five NBA player to the Lakers.

Making up for that may never happen.

But AD and his agent, Rich Paul, had the organization’s feet to the fire. They made Davis’ preferred destination publicly known, telling Sports Illustrated‘s S.L. Price that Davis would hit free agency in 2020 regardless, which understandably quelled interest around the league.

Davis and Paul got what they wanted out of this. But, given the circumstances, new team executive David Griffin and the Pelicans made out about as well as could be expected. And they might still get more.

Teams are already expressing significant interest in the No. 4 overall pick belonging now to the Pelicans, league sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “Talks are expected to continue over the next few days. This deal could get even bigger for the Pelicans.”

Even if it doesn’t, a team that just spent months dealing with the drama of Davis’ trade demand now has plenty of hope. And the Lonzo-Zion pairing might be the embodiment of that hope.

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Blues draw more than 500,000 for Stanley Cup celebration

ST. LOUISAlex Pietrangelo had the Stanley Cup in his hands, the St. Louis Blues captain ending the parade but continuing the celebration of their first NHL championship in their 51 seasons.

“It’s been amazing, let me tell you,” Pietrangelo said to the crowd that gathered for a post-parade rally at the Gateway Arch. “This is unbelievable. Unbelievable. … We all know what it’s about. It’s about the fans, the family.

“I said in an interview at the end of the season: We’re a bunch of messed-up individuals together. From the coaches all the way down, here we go. Look at this. This is amazing. Amazing.”

Video: Best moments from the Blues Championship Parade

What started as a cloudy and rainy day ended in sunshine, with an estimated 500,000 people watching the Blues travel east on Market Street through downtown St. Louis on the way to the Arch.

“Beyond anything I could have imagined,” Blues owner Tom Stillman said. “I thought there’d be a lot of people, but it’s a block or two deep at some points. Wow.

“… What a jolt of energy for a city, and that’s the best thing that sports can do, is bring people together, bring positive energy to the home city.”

Players took turns walking the route with the Cup, including Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. St. Louis native Pat Maroon walked with his young son Anthony, who later took to the stage and led a “Let’s Go Blues!” chant.

“I’m a hometown hero, baby!” Pat Maroon said to the crowd. “Put your glasses up right now St. Louis. We’re Stanley Cup champs baby!”

The Blues entered the NHL in 1967-68 and played in the Stanley Cup Final their first three seasons. This was their first time in the championship round since then, and their victory ended the longest active Stanley Cup drought.

Craig Berube, who took over as coach Nov. 19 and helped the Blues rise from last in the NHL standings, was greeted with chants of “Chief! Chief! Chief!”, his nickname from his days as a player.

“It’s awesome. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Berube said. “What an incredible experience to be down here today, the parade and everything. It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy for the city and the fans. They deserved it, but more than anything, I’m so happy for our players because of how hard they played, prepared, through leadership coming through and winning that Cup.

“They came together at some point. It all started to work out. Leadership, character and hard work through January, February and most of March, being on the road that much and winning that many games, it just goes to show the hard work and character of our players.

“That’s why we’re Stanley Cup champions.”

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Massive power cut hits all of Argentina

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A massive electrical failure has left all of Argentina and Uruguay without power, according to a major Argentine electricity provider.

Reports said the power cut had also affected parts of Brazil and Paraguay.

Argentine media said the power cut occurred shortly after 07:00 (12:00 GMT), causing trains to be halted and failures with traffic signalling.

It came as people in parts of Argentina were preparing to go to the polls for local elections.

“A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left all of Argentina and Uruguay without power,” electricity supplier company Edesur said in a tweet.

The combined population of Argentina and Uruguay is about 48 million people.

Among the affected provinces in Argentina were Santa Fe, San Luis, Formosa, La Rioja, Chubut, Cordoba and Mendoza, reports said.

Social media reports of the power were widespread – from the capital Buenos Aires in the north, to Mendoza in the west and Comodoro Rivadavia in the south, among many other cities.

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Hong Kong Protest Live Updates: Massive Turnout Reflects Distrust of Leaders

The man, whom the police identified as a 35-year-old with the surname Leung, had been perched for hours on the roof of an upscale mall near the Hong Kong government complex, where the protests have been concentrated. Shortly after 9 p.m., he climbed onto scaffolding on the side of the building as firefighters tried to rescue him, landing next to an inflatable air cushion that had been set up to catch him. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The man had been wearing a yellow raincoat, on which slogans criticizing the police and Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, were written. Many of the protesters on Sunday carried white flowers as a sign of mourning.

“His sacrifice really does show that the government is still ignoring how the citizens, how the students feel,” said Anson Law, 17, a high school student who has participated in the protests. “The people want to show their will.”

On Sunday afternoon, protesters stood in a long line outside the mall to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial of incense, flowers and handwritten notes. “Death of one man, death of Hong Kong,” one note said. A vigil is planned for 9 p.m. on Sunday.

At least 40 people joined a small counterprotest outside the United States Consulate on Sunday, echoing the Communist Party line that the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong had been engineered by foreign governments hostile to China.

The Chinese foreign ministry and members of the Hong Kong administration aligned with Beijing have repeatedly said the protests are part of a “foreign influence” campaign, pointing to recent statements made by Western leaders in support of the demonstrators, as well as earlier meetings between Hong Kong democracy advocates and American politicians.

“The riots I believe were instigated by foreign forces, and it is sad that the young people of Hong Kong have been manipulated into taking part,” said Joseph Yam, a member of the Executive Council, the territory’s top advisory body.

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Blues superfan Anderson thrilled to be part of victory celebration

ST. LOUIS — Laila Anderson stood on stage in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, the 11-year-old’s cheeks flushed from the sun as the crowd chanted, “Laila! Laila!”

“I mean, this is unbelievable. Unreal,” Anderson said to broadcaster John Kelly at the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup parade and rally on Saturday. The Blues celebrated their first Cup since joining the NHL in 1967.

Anderson, who has hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a severe systematic inflammatory syndrome that can be fatal, has been an inspiration all season for the Blues. Anderson and her family were also part of the parade, riding in a white car along the route that ran on Market Street from 18th to Broadway. Her car stopped a few times as Anderson did impromptu interviews.

Video: Laila Anderson hoists the Stanley Cup on stage

“I’m feeling great,” said Anderson, who was thrilled to be a part of the festivities. “I mean, just to watch the St. Louis Blues do it all is enough for me. But to have them want me here is just so surreal.”

Anderson’s name was also chanted on the parade route, where she waved to fans and tossed ‘Swab for Laila’ bracelets to the crowd. Be the Match helped find Anderson a donor, and she had a bone marrow transplant in January.

Beth Ladd of St. Louis was wearing one of the bracelets.

“She’s such an inspiration and it’s so amazing to see what she’s experienced,” Ladd said. “I actually went to school to work with kids with cancer. It didn’t work out that way, but just to see how much she’s enjoyed this and is a part of this is so cool. It’s so amazing. I’m so happy for her.”

Video: Laila Anderson attends Blues Championship Parade

At the rally, Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo helped lift the Cup with Anderson, who gave it a kiss. Defenseman Colton Parayko, who lifted the Cup with Laila after the Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Final at TD Garden in Boston on Wednesday, said Anderson has, “shown so much to our team.”

“She’s a special individual,” Parayko said at the rally. “Everything about her is awesome.”

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