LeBron James finally has Anthony Davis as a teammate.
For a match.
His Los Angeles Lakers were unable to negotiate a contract for Davis, but James drafted the New Orleans pelicans star on Thursday when he and his captain Giannis Antetokounmpo sat down to choose their teams for the February 17 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
– NBA (@NBA) February 8, 2019
Davis told the pelicans he wanted an exchange and James made it clear that he would love to play with him. But the Pelicans kept Davis at the end of the exchanges. For the moment, their time as teammates will be limited to the All-Star weekend and James jumped on the opportunity to grab it with the second round of the reserve round.
"I'm very sure of that," said James, when Ernie Johnson, the TNT host, asked him if he was sure he wanted to have Davis as a teammate.
"Is not this alteration?" Antetokounmpo asked.
James replied, as both players were laughing: "The rules of change do not apply on the All-Star weekend," a thinly veiled hint at James' reaction when he quoted Davis among the many players with whom he would like to have the chance to play.
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 8, 2019
James chose Kevin Durant of Golden State with the # 1 pick, as he had done last year in the All Star Game draft, to be one of his starters. They will be joined in Team LeBron from five by Kyrie Irving (Boston), Kawhi Leonard (Toronto) and James Harden (Houston). In addition to Antetokounmpo, Team Giannis will represent Stephen Curry of Golden State, Joel Embiid of Philadelphia, Paul George of Oklahoma City and Kemba Walker, Charlotte's hometown.
Antetokounmpo said he had taken George for a reason: "He had a huge dunk on me," said Antetokounmpo, toppling his slam cap that the Thunder star launched last month.
Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee teammate Khris Middleton, first-choice in the reserve round, with Nikola Jokic of Denver, Ben Simmons of Philadelphia, Blake Griffin of Detroit, D'Angelo Russell of Orlando, Nikola Vucevic of Orlando and Kyle Lowry from Toronto. James took Davis, Klay Thompson of Golden State, Damian Lillard of Portland, Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, LaMarcus Aldridge of San Antonio, Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota and Bradley Beal of Washington.
James said that he had taken Aldridge even though he knew that Spurs' coach, Gregg Popovich, would have conditions.
"Pop will tell me that I can only play him two minutes," said James, probably half serious.
James managed to make an exchange by convincing Antetokounmpo to swap Westbrook for Simmons – and give the Bucks star a chance to have Westbrook and Embiid together as he wished. The NBA has approved the trade.
That left the third round and the decision between the two special additions to the game by NBA commissioner Adam Silver – those of Dwyane Wade in Miami and Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. James took Wade, his former teammate and long-time friend in Miami and Cleveland. That left Nowitzki to Antetokounmpo.
"Everyone in the world knows who I'm going with and I'm going with Dirk," said James, before pausing to laugh at his joke. "I'm going with my boyfriend, Dwyane Wade."
Wade said publicly last week that he was waiting for James to take him there.
"I did not have to press for that," said Wade.
James and Antetokounmpo recorded their selections on Thursday morning and TNT aired their selections in the evening. Doing it live was not feasible since James and the Lakers were playing Thursday night in Boston.
It was the second year of the format chosen by the captain. James and Curry were the captains last year, but the order of their choices was not revealed nor broadcast.
Mike Budenholzer of Milwaukee will coach Team Giannis, his second participation in leading an All-Star team. Denver coach Michael Malone will debut as a star team coaching the LeBron team.
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