Zion Williamson is unconcerned by the pressure of potentially following the likes of LeBron James as the number one pick in the NBA Draft.

Former Duke sensation Williamson is expected to go to the New Orleans Pelicans as the first overall selection on Thursday.

The 18-year-old would join a roll call that includes Los Angeles Lakers star James and former greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan.

But Williamson is keen to make his mark without worrying about those who have gone before.

"Those are big shoes to fill, but I'm not looking to fill those," he told Good Morning America. "I'm just looking to be the best Zion I could be."

Williamson claims he did not expect to emerge as the clear candidate for the top pick and is just eager to get started.

"I just want to hoop," he said.

"It's crazy, honestly, you know, I never saw myself as being a top-three, top-four pick, and for people to think that I could go [at number] one, it means a lot to me.

"It's showing that my hard work is paying off, but I just want to get drafted period.

"I don't play basketball for the money; it was the last thing I thought of when I was a little kid.

"When I was a little kid, I looked at my mom, stepdad, said, 'I want to be an NBA player', just because I love to play the game of basketball like 24/7."

It has been reported the Pelicans could look to take the Memphis Grizzlies' second pick in order to pair Williamson with former Duke team-mate RJ Barrett on Thursday.

New Orleans are understood to have received the fourth pick from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade that sent Anthony Davis the other way.

LeBron James welcomed Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, warning NBA rivals it is "just the beginning" after reports broke of a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers acquired All-Star center Davis from the Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks – including this year's fourth selection, according to ESPN.

While the trade is yet to be officially announced, Lakers superstar could not hide his excitement via social media.

"AD on da way!! @antdavis23 [Rolling on the floor laughing emoji]," James wrote on Instagram with a picture of the pair in Lakers jerseys together.

"Let's get it bro! Just the beginning..."

Davis' agent Rich Paul told ESPN in January his client did not want to re-sign with the Pelicans and would prefer to be traded.

The Lakers were among his preferred destinations, however, Los Angeles were unable to strike a deal prior to the deadline.

James now has a second star to play alongside in Los Angeles, but that does not mean the Lakers are content with adding just one piece.

The Lakers now plan to pursue free agent point guard and Charlotte Hornets star Kemba Walker, according to reports.

They could also still pursue any and all of the other big-name free agents on the market like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler.

James has reportedly already been in contact with Toronto Raptors star Leonard and Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rajon Rondo said the Los Angeles Lakers' pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis reportedly at the request of LeBron James had a serious effect on some players.

The Lakers were desperate to bring Davis to Los Angeles via a trade in 2018-19, however, the storied NBA franchise were unsuccessful as they missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

Among the names mentioned in the potential Davis trade were Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma — all of whom were drafted by the Lakers in the last three years.

Rondo – who signed a one-year, $9million deal with the Lakers last offseason – was right in the middle of the trade rumours, indicating the team intended to scrap the roster in pursuit Davis.

"Every guy on our team, LeBron was their favourite player growing up," Rondo told Bleacher Report. "Everyone had the shoes, his jersey. You're the biggest fan in the world. It's like you're playing with MJ [Michael Jordna], and then you get there, and it's like your mom and dad, or the person that you looked up to and idolized, doesn't want you.

"And then to have that sitting in your gut, not knowing. Guys aren't at the age where they can have a man-to-man conversation versus texting you. Everybody wants to text you: 'How you doing? We cool?' People don't understand how to have a real conversation and talk out problems."

Rondo added: "Even some of the old guys were affected. I can't say a name, but I remember me and the guy were on the bench for the Atlanta game right before the [All-Star] break. The guy was cussing and talking bad about the situation during the game. I was like: 'Snap out of it. That s*** is over with. We'll get through it.

"As vets, we have to move forward and not focus on what the young guys are focusing on. Set an example.' It was a little crazy to see a vet distraught over that."

Rondo though, said he was "numb" to the speculation, as he had been involved in trade rumours since his early days with the Boston Celtics.

The four-time All-Star joined the likes of other seasoned veterans on one-year rentals last year. Among them were JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson. While the team were firmly in the playoff hunt on Christmas Day, James suffered a groin injury in a win against the Golden State Warriors that derailed the course of the season.

The drama in Los Angeles intensified when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned from his front office position as the regular season wound down. But Rondo believes the Lakers handled adversity as well as they could.

"Biggest market, biggest media, you know what you're coming into with LeBron James on the team," Rondo said. "To me it wasn't as crazy. The way things ended, the way Magic exited, maybe. Things happen. You learn. ... I think we held it together as best as possible."

It is unclear who the Lakers will bring back after finishing with a 37-45 record in 2018-19. However, they are reportedly willing to pursue Davis again with members of their young core and the number four pick as bargaining chips.

LeBron James called for "swift action" against the Golden State Warriors part-owner who shoved the Raptors' Kyle Lowry in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

James took to social media to express his disbelief that Mark Stevens blatantly shoved Toronto's Lowry after he landed in the seats chasing a loose ball.

Stevens was ejected from the game and later the Warriors announced he would not be attending any other NBA Finals games this year, but James said it wasn't enough.

"Ok cool but still ain't enough! They did exactly what they had to do. Get in front of it before anyone else and plus there's only 4 games left (2 max in GS)," the Los Angeles Lakers star wrote on Twitter.

James followed up his tweet with a lengthy post on Instagram, in which he called out Stevens for knowing "exactly what he was doing" and to ask the league to do a better job of protecting players from similar situations.

"There's absolutely no place in our BEAUTIFUL game for that AT ALL," James wrote. "There's so many issues here.

"When you sit courtside you absolutely know what comes with being on the floor and if you don't know it's on the back of the ticket itself that states the guidelines.

"But he himself being a fan but more importantly PART-OWNER of the Warriors knew exactly what he was doing which was so uncalled for.

"He knew the rules more than just the average person sitting watching the game courtside so for that something needs to be done ASAP! A swift action for his actions."

James also said that if the roles were reversed, the narrative would be very different.

"Just think to yourself, what if Kyle Lowry would have reacted and put his hands back on him," James wrote. "You guys would be going CRAZY!! Calling for him to damn near be put in jail let alone being suspended for the rest of the Finals all because he was protect[ing] himself."

National Basketball Players' Association president Michelle Roberts released a statement on Thursday expressing her concern over the incident, while NBA spokesman Mike Bass stated Stevens will not be permitted to attend games as the league reviews the incident. 

MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden were both unanimous selections for the All-NBA First Team for 2018-19.

The All-NBA teams were announced by the league on Thursday and the two standout stars of the season, Antetokounmpo and Harden, each received the full 500 points after being named on all 100 First Team ballots.

Giannis, twice on the Second Team, made the cut for the top side for the first time.

Stephen Curry, whose Golden State Warriors have reached the NBA Finals where they could face Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks, was next on 482 points.

Paul George (433 points) and center Nikola Jokic (411) completed the First Team.

On the Second Team, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving all made the cut.

Meanwhile, LeBron James, who missed the playoffs after moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, fell to the Third Team, alongside Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker.

With the pick, James ties the record for the most All-NBA selections with 15, although he was left out of the First Team for only the fourth time in his 16-year career.

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka believes the team can win a NBA championship as soon as next season.

The Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth successive season after finishing 2018-19 with a 37-45 record, despite the arrival of superstar LeBron James.

Los Angeles parted with head coach Luke Walton, while Magic Johnson stood down as president of the Lakers.

However, Pelinka is confident about the Lakers' future, especially after the franchise received the fourth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

"I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now," Pelinka told reporters on Monday. "We have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league.

"We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot. So, I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year."

The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after James left the Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract.

Los Angeles opened with a 20-14 record before James strained his groin on Christmas Day. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.

Los Angeles also dealt with injuries to key role players — including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma — throughout 2018-19.

"We know the characteristics and qualities we stand for," Pelinka said. "And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organisation and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there will be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here."

Magic Johnson, who shockingly stepped down from his position as the Lakers president of basketball operations before the team's final game of the season, blasted Pelinka and accused him of "backstabbing" during an interview with ESPN earlier on Monday.

Pelinka denied Johnson's accusations at the news conference — which was held to introduce new Lakers coach Frank Vogel.

Magic Johnson revealed how an erosion of his power, plus the breakdown of his relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka, led to him leaving his role with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson, a franchise legend having helped them win five NBA titles during his playing career, abruptly resigned as the team's president of basketball operations in April.

He said during an impromptu media conference at the time he was tired of the "backstabbing", something he explained in greater detail during an appearance on ESPN's First Take show on Monday.

Johnson identified Pelinka as the individual he was referring to, divulging how agents had called him to warn him about the Lakers' general manager, though he decided to give him a "fair shot".

"I started hearing, 'Magic's not working hard enough', 'Magic’s not in the office'. People around the Laker office were telling me Rob was saying things and I didn't like those things being said behind my back," he explained.

"I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things were said to them outside of basketball, now not just in the Laker office. Now it's in the media and so on."

Despite the presence of LeBron James, the Lakers posted a 37-45 record as they finished 10th in the Western Conference.

With turmoil – and losses – mounting this season, Johnson said he reached a point where he felt the team needed to go in a different direction, leading to a situation with then-coach Luke Walton that he described as "the straw that broke the camel's back".

"I wanted to fire Luke Walton," he said. "We had three meetings. I showed [controlling owner Jeanie Buss] the things he did well and then the things he didn't do well. I said, 'Listen we got to get a better coach'. I like him, he's great, former Laker, the whole thing.

"So, the first day: 'Well, let's think about it'. The second day: 'Okay, you can fire him'. Then, the next day: 'No, we should try to work it out'.

"So when we went back and forth like that and then she brought [Lakers chief operating officer] Tim Harris to the meeting ...and Tim wanted to keep him because he's friends with Luke. Luke's a great guy, great guy. So when I looked up I said, 'Wait a minute'. I only really answer to Jeanie Buss and now I've got Tim involved. I said, 'It's time for me to go'.

"I've got things happening, that's being said behind my back, and I don't have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions. And I [had] told them when it's not fun for me and when I think I don't have the decision-making power I thought I had, then I've got to step aside."

After Johnson's sudden departure, the Lakers announced they would not fill the team president role. Walton, meanwhile, was fired after the team missed out on the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced Frank Vogel as their head coach on Monday.

Former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach Vogel signed a multi-year contract, though terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 45-year-old replaces Luke Walton, who left the Lakers in April after the NBA franchise missed the playoffs despite the arrival of LeBron James.

"I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organisation that I have long admired," Vogel said. "I look forward to coaching such phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team."

Vogel led the Pacers to five playoff series in six years after being named Indiana's interim coach in 2011, including back-to-back Eastern Conference finals appearances in 2013 and 2014.

He was hired by Orlando in 2016 but was fired at the end of the 2017-18 season. He posted a 304-291 (.511) career mark in 595 games

"We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers," Lakers general Rob Pelinka announced in a statement.

"Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards."

According to an ESPN report on Saturday, former Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd is expected to join him as a lead assistant.

The Lakers reportedly favoured former Cleveland Cavaliers coach and long-time friend of superstar forward James for the job, but negotiations fell apart over a contract dispute.

Stephen Curry expressed his gratitude for the support of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after he led the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets and into the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors star Curry was held scoreless in the opening two quarters of Game 6 against the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday but produced a sensational second half, racking up 33 points to inspire the defending NBA champions - who were without the injured Kevin Durant - to a 118-113 victory and a 4-2 series success.

That haul represented Curry's best since the opening game of the playoffs, and comprehensively silenced any doubters.

And Los Angeles Lakers star James, who faced Curry in each of the past four NBA Finals during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, voiced his backing of his fellow three-time champion, as did retired Miami Heat legend Wade.

James posted on Twitter: "NEVER underestimate the heart of a Champion!!!!"

Wade added on his account: "Y'all better stop disrespecting @StephenCurry30 just because he's a team first guy and is willing to sacrifice in moments doesn't mean he's not still a beast."

Asked if he felt he had been disrespected or underestimated ahead of Game 6, Curry took a long pause before responding.

"I've heard a lot of noise this series, for sure, I'll just leave it at that," he said.

"Whether it's positive, negative, whatever the case is, I know what I'm capable of and it's bigger than me, so I don't get caught up in that.

"I don't need any extra motivation, I don't need to hear who I am as a player, I know that. My confidence never wavers in those situations so I appreciate those words.

"Champions recognise champions and what it takes to win games like tonight and do what we've been able to do over these last five years so hopefully [there is] more of that to come."

A group of Los Angeles Lakers fans protested outside of Staples Center amid the NBA team's struggles.

A small but extremely vocal group of fans gathered outside the arena on Friday, voicing their displeasure with the Lakers' executives.

Rather than holding torches and pitchforks, the fans hoisted signs that made their demands clear, calling for the ouster of team owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka.

The Lakers suffered through an underachieving season after the acquisition of free agent LeBron James had some fans talking championship.

Beyond the poor 37-45 record, the Lakers suffered from issues in the front office and in player chemistry. The team infamously and unsuccessfully offered a handful of its young stars in a bid to trade for disgruntled New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. There were reports that James and his younger teammates were not on the same page.

The mess has continued this offseason, as head coach Luke Walton was fired, and Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned as team president. Tyronn Lue also reportedly turned down the team's offer as coach when the Lakers offered him a three-year rather than a five-year deal. 

"My uncle had Magic. My older brother had Kobe [Bryant], one fan told ESPN. "I've got LeBron. He's brought me nothing. A change needs to happen right now. Get Buss out of here. They're too incompetent for this city, and we don't want it anymore."

Another supporter, Charlie Rivers, said: "I think I already got it -- media coverage, have the talking heads speak about it, analysts talk about the inept decision-making by the front office, basketball operations needing a change up there.

"I don't mean it to be a personal attack on [owner] Jeanie Buss or anything like that. I just don't agree with their decision-making on a front-office level. Nepotism shouldn't be involved when it comes to decision-making."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James enjoyed watching Zion Williamson play at Duke.

The forward was a star during his freshman season with the Blue Devils and is widely expected to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

James discussed Williamson during the latest episode of HBO's 'The Shop'.

"I've watched him a lot over the last year," James said. "The one thing I noticed with his one year at Duke was, his energy was infectious, man. Every possession, it seemed like he could make a difference on the outcome of the game … He's the most talked about guy in a long time."

Williamson was the story of college basketball in 2018-19. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds while shooting 68 per cent from the field.

He was also a force defensively as he tallied 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.

James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the Lakers in July. He averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in his first season in Los Angeles. But, the team finished with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs.

The 2019 NBA Draft lottery will be held later this month. The New York Knicks, Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns all have a 14 per cent chance of landing the top pick.

LeBron James labelled Magic Johnson's abrupt resignation "weird" as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar finally broke his silence.

Former Lakers president Johnson called an impromptu news conference before the team's final game of the season and announced he was stepping down last month.

Johnson cited the fact he could not be himself in his current position.

James – who left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Lakers at the start of the season – discussed Johnson's sudden exit on Saturday.

"It was just weird for [Johnson] to just be like… 'Nah, I'm out of here'," James said on his HBO show "The Shop".

"And not even have [a heads-up] like: 'Hey, Bron… kiss my a**. I'm out of here'. I would have been okay with that. Like: 'Hey, Bron, it's Magic. kiss my a**; I'm gone'. It wasn't even that."

It was long rumoured James was unaware this was going to happen and his comments on "The Shop" confirm that.

"What do you mean [stepped down]?", James recalled telling business partner Randy Mims when he told him of the news. "Like, from out of his car? I'm like: 'Man, get the f*** out of my face. You're bulls******* me'."

It was a tumultuous season for the Lakers, who parted with head coach Luke Walton after missing the playoffs again.

The Lakers appear on the brink of hiring James' former coach with the Cavaliers Tyronn Lue, according to multiple reports.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are at the top of the NBA – for jersey sales.

Lakers superstar James boasts the most popular jersey on the league's merchandise list and Los Angeles were the highest selling team, according to NBA Store sales.

Stephen Curry and reigning champions the Golden State Warriors fell into second in both categories after topping the charts last term and spending three consecutive regular seasons at number one.

The rankings are based on sales since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid rounded out the top-five most popular jerseys.

Their respective teams also finished in the top-five most popular team jerseys. Boston, Philadelphia and Milwaukee all trailed Los Angeles and Golden State.

 

LeBron James does not seem upset with the Los Angeles Lakers, dismissing a report on Wednesday.

ESPN reported earlier this week the 34-year-old star's trust in the "organisation has been damaged – maybe irrevocably".

James, however, denied the report on his Instagram story on Wednesday. He was working out and watching ESPN's 'First Take' in the video.

"That. Is. Not. True," James said. "It's not true at all. I'm actually at the Lakers facility right now."

Magic Johnson shockingly stepped down from his position as the Lakers president of basketball operations before the team's final game of the season at an impromptu news conference. James was reportedly "stunned" by Johnson's decision.

"I had more fun on the other side than on this side," Johnson said at the news conference. "Because now, tomorrow, I would have to affect somebody's life. And I've thought about that. That's not fun for me. That's not who I am… I want to go back to having fun. I want to go back to who I was before taking on this job."

The Lakers later parted ways with coach Luke Walton, who was hired by the Sacramento Kings one day later.

The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a four-year, $153.3million contract with the team last offseason. Los Angeles opened with a 20-14 record before James suffered a strained groin on December 25. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.

James, who had reached eight straight NBA Finals, was eventually shut down in late March.

James finished his first season in Los Angeles averaging 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 55 appearances.

The Lakers have reportedly interviewed Tyronn Lue, Jason Kidd and Monty Williams, among others, to replace Walton.

Luke Walton has left his role as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The team announced in a statement on Friday they had "mutually agreed to part ways" with the third-year coach, capping a tumultuous week in Los Angeles.

Walton's departure comes three days after team president Magic Johnson stepped down from his role with the Lakers. He alluded to wanting to fire Walton but indicated he did not want to do so because owner Jeanie Buss supported him as the head coach.

There were also rumours that LeBron James, who signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract with Los Angeles this offseason — did not get along with Walton and wanted a new head coach.

"We would like to thank Luke for his dedicated service over the last three years," general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “We wish Luke and his family the best of luck moving forward.”

Walton went 98-148 in his three years in the job.

The Lakers won more games in each year he was at the helm, but his late game-management came into question at times toward the end of his tenure. 

"I want to thank Jeanie Buss and the Buss family for giving me the opportunity to coach the Lakers," Walton said in a statement. "This franchise and the city will always be special to me and my family."

Tyronn Lue has been touted as a candidate to replace Walton in recent months, while former New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams is also expected to be a candidate.

Lue was the head coach for the Cavaliers over the last three seasons when James was in Cleveland, including in 2016, when the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors to the NBA title. 

The Lakers finished this season 37-45 and have failed to reach the playoffs over the last six seasons. They have not finished better than 10th in the conference in that time.

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