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Why LeBron’s love letter to Anthony Davis matters

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We have that and more in Wednesday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: All Star Game-Team LeBron at Team Stephen Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In the “Duh” news of the century that is actually still pretty important, LeBron James declared Tuesday that, yes, it would be quite nice to team up with Anthony Davis. It goes without saying that LeBron has never had a teammate as good as AD is right now. Dwyane Wade in the 2010-13 era comes closest, but then Wade was more a fringe MVP candidate going into that era, whereas Davis could win the award right now. LeBron isn’t quite as excellent as he was in those years, so it’s not like a James-Davis pairing would guarantee a title. But it’d get them a lot closer.

The question is whether the Lakers can compete with the Celtics and other teams expected to bid for Davis this summer. Brandon Ingram has lost his luster, and while Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma are well-respected, they don’t compete with Jayson Tatum (should Boston put him on the table) or perhaps even Jaylen Brown (assuming he turns his season back around). If New Orleans straight seeks the best offer, and Boston offers up the cupboard, the Celtics should beat the Lakers in this sweepstakes.

The wild card is Davis himself, who can certainly express his opinions about where he’d like to go with the cudgel of 2020 free agency hanging over the proceedings. If he is set on LA, he can make clear that preference and threaten not to sign a new deal in 2020 with Boston or whoever else trades for him. That could restrict what the C’s put on the table — Danny Ainge is no buster, he’s not going to give up Tatum if he doesn’t think he’ll have Davis for more than a year.

This is why LeBron’s public love song to Davis is important. It establishes plainly that the best player of his generation, still a superstar of the highest magnitude, wants A.D. bad. If that flatters Davis even a smidge toward preemptively picking the Lakers, that’s a nice boost for LA’s chances of trading for him despite having fewer high-end assets than their rival.

Simply by stating the obvious — that he and Davis would be a smart match — LeBron has helped his team. Good job, good effort.

Scores

Cavaliers 92, Pacers 91
Wizards 110, Hawks 118
Lakers 110, Nets 115
Mavericks 118, Nuggets 126

Schedule

On NBA TV:
Suns at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET
Thunder at Kings, 10 p.m. ET

Selections From League Pass:
Pacers at Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pelicans at Bucks, 8 p.m. ET
Warriors at Jazz, 9 p.m. ET
Grizzlies at Blazers, 10 p.m. ET

Full schedule here.

Links

Paul Flannery sings the praises of the Hawks’ young stud John Collins.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the league’s new dunk lord.

The six funniest things about James Harden’s stepback stepback.

Teams are adding four-point lines to their practice courts to help convince and teach players the most efficient areas of the floor. Antoine Walker was born 10 years too early.

Alex Wong on the NBA players building second careers as comedians, designers, and investment gurus.

Brilliant idea by Marc Spears to talk to the NBA’s black international players about adapting to American and African-American culture.

Danny Chau on Zion and Luka as mixtape prodigies come to life.

De’Aaron Fox’s speed with the ball is unreal.

Twenty-six sports-related ideas cafés should use to get more money in their tip jars. For the baristas who don’t care about tips but have an interest in exacting justice in a cruel world, I recommend doing 6 vs. 24, only one is open kerosene lamp and the other is a carnivorous plant.

Not basketball but this is a beautiful little rumination from the great Natalie Weiner on the impact of A League of Their Own, one of the greatest sports movies of my childhood (behind Space Jam and Days of Thunder). (I’m kidding about one of those movies.) (It’s not Space Jam.)

Be excellent to each other.