In 1984, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drained his signature sky hook over two Utah Jazz defenders to surpass Wilt Chamberlain’s mark of 31,419 career points. Abdul-Jabbar would continue to play five more seasons setting the record at 38,387, a record that held strong until Tuesday night when Lebron James drained a fadeaway jumper against the Oklahoma City Thunder to give him 36 points on the night and 38,388 for his career. This moment came with 10.2 seconds left in the third quarter of the game. The game was put on hold as Crypto.com Arena displayed a celebratory video of Lebron’s career followed by a passing of the torch ceremony from commissioner Adam Silver and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar himself. James looks nowhere close to stopping and could potentially set this record well over 40,000 points, virtually making it unreachable.
After the game, James got some help in the Lakers’ hope for a championship this season. Los Angeles completed a three-team trade, sending Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz along with Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Jones and a 2027 first-round pick. The Jazz sent Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a 2024 second-round pick swap, a 2025 second-round pick and a 2026 second-round pick to the Timberwolves. All this resulted in the Lakers receiving D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. Beasley and Vanderbilt give the Lakers some much needed floor spacing. Russell returns to Los Angeles where he began his career and will add a more efficient third option next to Lebron and Anthony Davis. The Jazz will most likely buy out Westbrook, allowing him to become a free agent and ending the Lakers’ attempt at a big three.
The Lakers big three wasn’t the only big three to crumble at the deadline, as the Nets shipped Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks and Kevin Durant to the Suns after trading away James Harden to the 76ers at last year’s trade deadline. Irving and Durant have both expressed their displeasure with the Nets organization over the past two years leading to moves finally being made.
The Mavericks received Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and two second-round picks from 2027 and 2029 respectively. The call to get Luka Doncic, a superstar, alongside him has finally been answered. Doncic and Irving in the backcourt make Dallas a true championship contender after Doncic and Jalen Brunson were able to make the Western Conference Finals last season. Brunson signed with the Knicks in the offseason, and if Irving can keep his name out of the media then he will be a much-needed upgraded version of Brunson.
After the Irving trade was made, Kevin Durant began having conversations with the Nets organization about the direction of the franchise. It seems that those talks resulted in a Brooklyn rebuild in the future, as just three days later Durant moved alongside T.J. Warren to the Phoenix Suns. Brooklyn received Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, four first-round picks and a 2028 pick swap. Shortly after, Crowder was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. This is an incredible deal for Phoenix as they didn’t have to give up any of their major pieces in Chris Paul, Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton. This trade put them in position as the second most likely team to win the championship with odds of five to one, only trailing the favored Boston Celtics. Durant has been out for the past month with a knee injury and hopes to return after the All-Star break. With this in mind, and a Western Conference that is so tight knit, if the Suns chemistry sparks immediately, Phoenix will be hard to stop.
As for Brooklyn, a tanking season may be in their future. They will be testing out their young players and seeing who can play key roles in their rebuild. Since the Irving deal, we have already seen Cam Thomas drop three games in a row of 40-plus points, becoming the second-youngest player to accomplish this feat: only Lebron James did it younger. Bridges and Johnson are good three-and-d wings with high upside; however, this is the second time in the small history of the Nets playing in Brooklyn that bringing big names to town hasn’t been fruitful.
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