In watching Milwaukee Bucks do-it-all forward Giannis Antetokoumpo, though, Johnson says he sees the kind of player who can do what he did: lead a franchise to a title. Johnson had plenty of praise for the All-Star Antetokounmpo: “With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability. He plays above the rim I never could do that. But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That’s where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I’m just happy he’s starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.” Antetokounmpo answered: “The craziest thing is that I believe that. But it’s even more believable when other guys see that, like Magic. Especially Magic seeing that, that’s big. Because it’s almost like, “OK, he sees that.” So I’m on the right path, I’ve got to to do what I’m doing. There was a stage when I was younger that I was trying to be Magic, I was trying to smile when I was playing, make all those plays. But a compliment like that from Magic, it’s big. But for me, I just got to stay focused, keep working on my game and try to get better”.
The Bulls and Pelicans do not have a trade to send Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans. It was mentioned early on that Chicago would be sending Mirotic to the Pelicans in exchange for Omer Asik and a first-round pick. The hang-up appears to be tied to Mirotic’s contract. Though he has a no-trade clause, that clause can be nullified if the Bulls pick up his $12.5 million team option for next season before a trade. Either a team can acquire Mirotic with his approval for one year or for two years without his blessing. Mirotic was unwilling to approve a trade to New Orleans without assurance that his option would be picked up. It has been clear Mirotic was on his way out of Chicago ever since teammate Bobby Portis punch him in the face and left him hospitalized with facial fractures and a concussion. Mirotic reportedly told the Bulls either he or Portis had to be traded. New Orleans is looking to fill the hole left in the frontcourt by the DeMarcus Cousins injury as they fight to remain in playoff position. Mirotic has played 25 games since returning from injury and is averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. The Bulls got off to a 3–20 start in his absence but are 15–12 since.
Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks with a non-displaced fracture in the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. Love left in the first quarter of Cleveland’s 125-114 loss to the Pistons on Tuesday night after making contact with Andre Drummond in the paint. Love went to the locker room and had an X-ray, which showed the fracture. Brian Windhorst is reporting the 6-8 week timetable, though McMenamin said Love’s status won’t officially be updated until the team returns to Cleveland on Wednesday. The injury will force to Love to miss the All-Star game for the second straight year. In 2017, he underwent knee surgery five days before the All-Star Game. Love is the third All-Star to go down in the last five days—Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles tendon last Friday, while the Wizards announced Tuesday that John Wall will miss two months due to a knee procedure. Love, 29, is averaging 18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 rebounds for the season.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was annoyed with his team’s performance in a 129-99 road loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. He struggled to find redeeming qualities regarding the Warriors’ execution and effort: “I think our guys will tell you that was a pathetic effort out there. That was disgusting basketball. We just didn’t start out the game with any force defensively. We weren’t staying into bodies, they were just stopping behind screens, we were lazy on our switches. We played with no sense of urgency, no sense of purpose, and they’re obviously fighting for the playoffs”. Kerr added that the Warriors’ “hearts weren’t in it” and continued: “I saw one team get their ass kicked. That’s what I saw”. Golden State allowed Utah to shoot a sizzling 58.2 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from downtown, including forward Joe Ingles’ 6-of-8 performance from long range. By contrast, the Warriors shot only 45.9 percent from the floor and an uncharacteristically low 20.0 percent from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry finished with just 17 and 14 points, respectively, while Klay Thompson was the only Dubs player to net more than 17 with 27. Even reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green was a team-worst minus-23, which spoke to Golden State’s defensive struggles. Ingles, Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio all scored at least 20 points for the Jazz, while Derrick Favors added 18 points and 10 rebounds. The loss broke the Warriors’ three-game winning streak and dropped them to 40-11 on the season. They still hold a three-game lead over the Houston Rockets for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and they will look to bounce back when they face the 16-34 Sacramento Kings on Friday.