LeBron James chooses Kevin Durant with first All-Star draft pick

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Los Angeles Lakers might not have traded for Anthony Davisbefore Thursday's deadline, but Lakers star LeBron James made sure Davis will be playing on his team next week in the NBA All-Star Game.

James selected Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans star, in the All-Star draft on Thursday night. He took Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant with his first selection.Milwaukee Bucksstar Giannis Antetokounmpo -- the captain of the team opposing James' side -- selected Golden State guard Stephen Curry with his first pick.

James also selected Boston's Kyrie Irving, Toronto's Kawhi Leonard and Houston's James Harden, respectively, from among the starters.

Antetokounmpo selected Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Oklahoma City's Paul George and Charlotte's Kemba Walker, respectively, among the pool of starters.

James and Antetokounmpo drafted the rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves in each conference. They made their selections without regard for a player's conference affiliation or position. James had the first pick, as he had the highest voting total in the league.

Eight starters were drafted in the first round. Fourteen reserves were taken in the second round.

James' selection of Davis is sure to garner attention, as the Lakers offered the Pelicans trade packages in an attempt to acquire Davis in the days leading up to Thursday's deadline, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Davis told New Orleans late last month that he doesn't wish to sign an extension with the team and requested a trade.

James also took all of the players who could be free agents at the end of the season -- Durant, Irving, Leonard andKlay Thompson-- as well as a potential 2020 free agent in Davis, which led to a funny exchange between the two captains.

Antetokounmpo suggested during the draft -- which was televised by TNT -- that James was tampering after he selected Davis.

"Isn't that tampering?" Antetokounmpo asked.

"Tampering rules [do] not apply on All-Star Weekend," James said, laughing.

James selected Davis with his first pick in the second round. He also drafted Thompson, Portland's Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City'sRussell Westbrook, San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge, Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Washington's Bradley Beal. Beal was selected last.

Antetokounmpo selected teammate Khris Middleton in the second round. He had the first pick in the round. He also drafted Denver's Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, Detroit's Blake Griffin, Brooklyn'sD'Angelo Russell, Orlando's Nikola Vucevic and Toronto's Kyle Lowry.

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade were named by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as special team roster additions for the All-Star Game. Wade and Nowitzki were drafted in the third and final round.

James, selecting first in the third round, selected Wade, his close friend. That left Nowitzki for Antetokounmpo's team.

At James' urging, the captains then agreed to a trade of Westbrook for Simmons.

The draft was shown on TNT on Thursday night after being taped earlier. The process was not televised last year -- the first iteration of the current format -- to the dismay of James and other players.

All-Star reserves were selected by the coaches. Starters were named through a process combining fan votes (50 percent), media votes (25 percent) and player votes (25 percent).

The All-Star Game is in Charlotte on Feb. 17.

Denver coach Michael Malone and the Nuggets' staff will coach Team LeBron. Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks'staff will coach Team Giannis.

For the second year in a row, both NBA All-Star Game teams will make donations to community-based organizations. The winning team's charity will receive a $350,000 donation from the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, while the losing team's organization will receive $150,000.

Team LeBron will play for Right Moves for Youth, a school-based, dropout-prevention and student-support program in Charlotte. Team Giannis will play for for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, which aims to eliminate hunger by soliciting and distributing food and household items to people in need.

Team Giannis chose to play in white uniforms. Team LeBron was assigned the black uniforms as the visiting team.

Silver will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game. He will choose a player from the same conference as the player who is being replaced. Silver's selection will join the team that drafted the replaced player.

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