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Scottie Pippen: Wizards would be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference if not for injuries

Scottie Pippen: Wizards would be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference if not for injuries

Where would the Washington Wizards be if their roster wasn't plagued by injuries? It's fun to dream, but Scottie Pippen thinks they'd be not just the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, but also perhaps the team surviving the conference and rolling into the NBA Finals. 

"If Washington was healthy this season, they would be the team coming out of the East," Pippen said Friday on ESPN's The Jump.

But at this point, the revamped Wizards are just trying to make a playoff push

Ahead of last week's NBA trade deadline, Washington traded Otto Porter Jr. to the Chicago Bulls for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round NBA Draft pick. They also dealt Markieff Morris and a 2023 second-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for Wesley Johnson. The moves help keep the Wizards under the luxury tax and are, in large part, the result of John Wall's ruptured Achilles tendon, which is expected to sideline the team's star for 12 months. 

In addition to Wall, Dwight Howard has been out with a back injury, and he might not return to the court for another month. Plus, Jeff Green is day-to-day with a hip injury, and Troy Brown Jr. is expected to be out until later this month with an ankle injury.

The Wizards are three spots out of eighth place in the East and one win behind the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. They play the Pistons on the road Monday.

Outsiders and analysts continue to try and figure out exactly the Wizards are trying to do with their recent trade deadline moves, but as Pippen explained, everything changed for them with Wall's season-ending Achilles injury. 

"I think that they realized that they missed this window of opportunity," Pippen continued on ESPN. 

"LeBron James has left the East, and we know that the Wizards always challenged him in terms of playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. But now, I feel like Porter was part of that sort of big three, and now that that window, with Wall getting hurt, has sort of vanished away from them. Now, they have to look two, three years down the road. And I think Porter, with the money he had with that salary cap, wasn’t gonna be that third piece that they need."

Wall is expected to have surgery Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and his recovery could take 11 to 15 months — possibly all of next season. 

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Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

The Anthony Davis trade will have ripple effects across the NBA, not only on teams, but also on the players involved.

Josh Hart, who was traded from the Lakers to the Pelicans as part of the package for Davis on Saturday, could stand to benefit from the move.

First, here's a look at all of the assets reportedly swapped in the deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Now, where does the Silver Spring, Md., native figure in the proceedings?

Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers. He averaged 7.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game in his two years in Los Angeles. 

Still, Hart was often the Lakers' third or fourth option at shooting guard behind starter Brandon Ingram and shared minutes with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock and Lance Stephenson. 

LeBron James and the Lakers' win-now strategy left little room to develop Hart last season.

Now in New Orleans, he is part of a franchise rebuilding around presumptive No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. The trade gave the Pelicans both a younger roster and a long enough timeline for success to develop players.

That can only be good news for Hart, giving him the chance to start fresh and impress Pelicans general manager David Griffin and head coach Alvin Gentry with his potential. 

Where the Sidwell Friends alum fits into the lineup depends on several factors.

At first glance, the new-look Pelicans could start Lonzo Ball at point guard, move Jrue Holiday to shooting guard, then complete the lineup with Ingram at small forward, Williamson at power forward and Julius Randle at center. 

If both Ingram and Holiday remain healthy, Hart would compete with Stanley Johnson to be the first wing off the bench for New Orleans.

But if Ingram does suffer recurring issues related to blood clots, Hart could press his case to start. 

The only issue complicating his place in New Orleans' plans is the No. 4 pick that was traded from the Lakers.

If the Pelicans keep that pick and draft a wing player like Jarrett Culver, Hart could find himself on the outside looking in again. 

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Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

Pelicans reportedly trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for a huge haul including Lonzo Ball

According to a report from ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired Pelicans' forward Anthony Davis in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and multiple first-round draft picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The announcement comes less than 48 hours into the NBA offseason, although the rumors and speculation of the deal has been a prominent storyline for months.

The much-anticipated deal gives the Lakers the star they've been trying to pair with LeBron James for some time and gives the Pelicans a young nucleus to build around the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. 

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Boston Celtics refused to part ways with promising forward Jayson Tatum in a potential trade with New Orleans.

The Celtics had been in the mix for Davis, but with Kyrie Irving likely headed for the exits, Danny Ainge was unwilling to part with his young assets in exchange for the one year remaining on Davis' contract.

Before the Davis domino fell, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes wrote about how a Davis trade could impact Bradley Beal's value

The Lakers, Knicks and Celtics all appear to want Davis and only one can get him, if he is even traded at all.

If the quest for Davis comes down to those three teams, there will be at least two that lose out.

The Knicks or Celtics now must determine whether trading for Beal is their next-best option behind Davis. 

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