LOS ANGELES — As preseason losses have piled up while the Lakers‘ revamped roster hasn’t showcased all of its stars in the same game yet, Anthony Davis admitted Sunday that Los Angeles’ disjointed dawn could seep into the regular season. But he isn’t sweating it.
“We want to be good, but we don’t want to skip steps. You can’t rush the process of what we’re trying to do and win championships,” Davis said after Sunday night’s 123-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns. “We know, possibly, there could be struggles to start the season. … But we never want to get out to a slow start — 0-5, 0-6, whatever — we still want to be able to fight through our mistakes while winning games.”
Davis said the Lakers (0-4 in the preseason) will finally unveil their new Big Three featuring him, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at home.
“It’s going to be a totally different story on Tuesday,” said Davis, who added that he expects to be playing center in that lineup.
The Suns game was the first time Davis and Westbrook played together, and while it wasn’t all bad — Davis finished with 19 points, six assists and three steals and helped key a 13-0 run in the second quarter, when things seemed to click — there was still a lot left to be desired.
Westbrook finished with more turnovers (nine), than points (eight), as he shot 3-for-12 from the field and the Lakers were outscored by 14 in the 26 minutes he was on the court.
This came after he registered seven turnovers and shot 1-for-7 from the field in his preseason debut on Friday.
“The turnover stuff is on me,” Westbrook said. “But good thing they don’t count. So I could turn that b—- over 15 times, ain’t nobody going to do nothing about it. So you know. Easy fix though. Very easy. Just because timing, just timing. Guys getting used to my speed, my pace, my timing, where I’m at on the floor.”
Then, echoing a sentiment shared by James on Friday night when the 19-year veteran said he cares “more about the practice court than I care about the preseason game,” Westbrook generally dismissed how he’s played so far.
“I never had one good preseason, I mean personally,” said Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and former league MVP. “I never really worry about it because it’s preseason.”
While not exactly expressing fret for his new group, Lakers coach Frank Vogel did offer more pointed perspective after his team trailed by as many as 31 on Sunday — after falling behind by as many as 22, 31 and 30 in their three previous preseason losses to Golden State, Phoenix and Brooklyn, respectively.
“We’ve got to get better,” Vogel said. “We haven’t played great. There’s going to be an adjustment period with so many new faces. It’s … we understand that. Hopefully it doesn’t take too much time to get everybody on the same page and in sync, guys getting legs underneath them and that type of thing, but we’ve still got to be better than we were tonight.”
San Antonio Spurs waive 2019 first-round draft pick Luka Samanic
Samanic, 21, had two years left on his rookie contract. San Antonio was facing a deadline this month to pick up his option for the 2022-23 season.
Samanic averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 36 games for the Spurs. He is just the third 2019 first-round draft pick to have been waived off an NBA roster, joining Mfiondu Kabengele and Sekou Doumbouya.
A 6-foot-11 shooter, Samanic turned pro at 16 years old, playing for FC Barcelona’s reserve team. He won MVP in the FIBA U18 European Championship in 2017 while leading his home country of Croatia to a gold medal.
The cut leaves the Spurs’ training camp roster at 17 players. They will need to get down to 15 before the start of the regular season.
Card’s sale for $2.7 million sets Michael Jordan-item record
At 58, Michael Jordan is still achieving new heights.
Goldin Auctions, out of its Private Sales Division, completed the most expensive Jordan item sale of all time when a 1997-98 Upper Deck Game Jersey game-worn patch card, with an on-card autograph, sold for $2.7 million over the weekend. That broke the all-time Goldin Auctions record of $2.1 million — held by the same kind of, but differently numbered, card.
The $2.7 million Jordan card is graded an 8 Near Mint-Mint from Beckett Grading Services (BGS). Jordan’s autograph received an 8 grade, and it’s numbered 6/23. The identities of the seller and buyer were confirmed to ESPN on the condition of anonymity.
As popular as Jordan’s 1986-87 Fleer rookie card has become — Jordan card sales increased by 370% on eBay in April 2020, following the release of “The Last Dance” — the 1997-98 Upper Deck might be Jordan’s most important: It’s the first example of a Jordan-autographed memorabilia card in a set.
“For people who want to own the absolute best [of Jordan],” says Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, “this is the flagship card. It’s the first Jordan game-worn jersey in a set, it’s autographed, it’s from a known and specific game — which is highly unusual in 2021 trading cards — back from an era when they still did that.”
There has recently been an industry trend of card manufacturers becoming more vague about the provenance of relics inserted into cards; what used to be “game-used” and “game-worn” have become “player-worn.” Increasingly often, cards will feature the phrase “the relics contained in this card are not from any specific game, event, or season.”
But this card’s jersey patch is game-worn from the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, notable as it served as the ceremonious farewell to Magic Johnson, who retired on Nov. 7, 1991. Magic was a fan vote for the game, scored 25 points and was the game’s MVP. Jordan scored 18 points.
“On the heels of Fanatics trading cards getting a $10.4 billion valuation, the market has to five-to-10 X. I believe we’re going to see tens of millions of new collectors around the world getting into trading cards over the next five to 10 years,” Goldin said. “A percentage of that aren’t going to be satisfied by buying whatever new releases are in 2024 and 2028. Some are going to want the all-time greats, and in basketball, that’s Jordan, LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant].
“For the people of my era, the undisputed GOAT is Jordan, so it would make sense that, as people get into the hobby, they’re going to gravitate toward his deep cards — like this one.”
Kyrie Irving returns to practice as coach Steve Nash acknowledges Brooklyn Nets will face games without him
Kyrie Irving returned to practice Sunday, but the Brooklyn Nets sound like a team coming to grips with the realization that its starting point guard will not play in home games for the foreseeable future.
While the situation around Irving’s availability for home games due to New York City’s COVID-19 protocols could change, Nets coach Steve Nash said he knows the team will have to play games this season without Irving.
“We recognize he’s not playing in home games,” Nash told reporters after Irving practiced with the team in Brooklyn for the first time this preseason. “We are going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”
New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate requires a person to have proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to enter indoor gyms — including Barclays Center, the home of the Nets, and Madison Square Garden, the home of the Knicks.
But on Friday, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps that Irving would be allowed to practice at the team’s HSS Training Center after the city determined that the Nets’ practice facility in Brooklyn is a “private office building” as opposed to an indoor gym.
“We are just starting to navigate this,” Nash told reporters Sunday. “A new rule comes in Friday and here we are. We are trying to look at the big picture. The near term, right now I am not sure we have as many answers.”
“I think right now we assume he’s not going to be available for home games, but anything can change,” Nash later added. “Who’s to say? The city ordinances could change. Anything could change. Right now we are just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go because information is coming in by like the half-day here. … We found out Friday he can come back in the building. Things are shifting. No one’s been through this before, and we are just trying to figure it out as we go.”
The city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate prevented Irving from taking part in the team’s media day at Barclays Center on Sept. 27. Irving ended up participating via a videoconference call from his home. He practiced with the team for a week during the Nets’ training camp in San Diego.
Upon returning to Brooklyn, Irving missed four consecutive practices and a home preseason game Friday. But on the same day as the preseason game, the city made its determination on the HSS Training Center. Irving joined his teammates Saturday at an outdoor team event at Brooklyn Bridge Park and then practiced Sunday at the team’s facility.
Nash said Irving will not play on Monday in Philadelphia, where the Nets play the 76ers in a preseason game. The Nets finish their preseason with a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday. If Irving does not get a vaccination shot before then, he will go the entire preseason without playing in an exhibition game since the Nets held him and several other veterans out of the preseason opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 3.
Nash said Irving was cleared to participate in everything in practice Sunday.
“It’s not something we, I have experienced before,” power forward Blake Griffin said of what the Nets will do if Irving cannot play in home games. “Whatever he decides, whatever the team decides, whatever agreement we come to or whatever happens, we are just going to support him. When he is here, we can use him. He’s amazing. I’m not even going to waste time trying to wrap my head around something that I don’t know the situation yet. We will adjust and act accordingly.”
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