While the Lakers are unlikely to make a major move today, the team is exploring smaller moves, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Wojnarowski tweets that the Lakers are offering Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks, and Darius Morris in search of second-round picks.
Given Blake's undesirable contract, which pays him $4MM this year and next, it's unlikely that the Lakers will be able to move him without giving up a pick of their own. I'd also be surprised if L.A. could land a second-rounder for Duhon. Ebanks and Morris could draw some interest though, as both players are young and on minimum-salary contracts.
If the Lakers were to move one or two players for picks, it would give the team the opportunity for a late-season free agent addition with the free roster spot(s). Alternately, it could simply allow the team to reduce its luxury-tax bill a little.
Multiple reports over the last month or so have indicated that the Hawks aren't interested in trading for Pau Gasol, and HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler notes that it continues to be the case, as Hawks officials find the idea they would think about such a trade "laughable." Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times wrote this weekend that the Hawks had asked the Lakers over the summer about their interest in trading Gasol for Josh Smith, adding that the Lakers rejected the idea. Bolch speculated that the Lakers might be warming to the idea of acquiring Smith, but Kyler says the Hawks have never wanted to trade for Gasol.
Such a deal would run counter to GM Danny Ferry's course of clearing cap space, and Kyler hears the Hawks also haven't had talked to the Lakers about Smith. The Hawks have been in steady communication with Smith and believe he's content in Atlanta, and know that they have the "inside track" to re-sign him when he hits free agency next summer, according to Kyler. The Hawks view Smith and Horford as the pillars of the franchise, and plan to use their newfound flexibility to build around them, as Kyler writes.
The HoopsWorld scribe also notes that the Lakers continue to look for upgrades to the end of their bench, and are shopping Devin Ebanks, though there has been little call for his services around the league. Because Ebanks accepted his qualifying offer this summer, he can veto any trade.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis used his personal blog to address a report this week by Michael Lee of The Washington Post that the Wizards turned down a trade for James Harden. Leonsis denies that finances were a factor in the team's decision, and points out the trade wouldn't have put the team over the luxury tax. However, Lee didn't write that the trade would make Washington a taxpayer, surmising instead that the team would eventually have to pay the tax if it wanted to keep Harden, John Wall and the rest of its post-trade core together. Here's who else is making news on an 11-game night in the NBA.
With the Lakers' scheduled to tip off against the Mavericks tonight to start the 2012/13 season, general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com about the team's roster, its second-round picks, and his thoughts on the Thunder trading James Harden. Here are a few of the highlights from the conversation:
On how the team decided which players to keep on its 15-man roster:
"In conjunction with our coach (Mike Brown) and (executive VP of player personnel) Jim Buss, we hashed it out. There is a strategic approach to what you do involving (positions and salary), and amongst the three of us this is where we ended up. I wouldn't think Robert Sacre (being on the roster) is a surprise to anybody; he certainly showed that he deserved an extended look. On the other hand, he's gotten more of an opportunity than anyone else because of the injury to Dwight (Howard), and if you talked to some guys that have been here, they'd say they wish they'd had that opportunity. With that said, they've been here almost 28 days, and we feel like we know them pretty good. We're not always right, and we had to make decisions, and by and large the decisions have to be done at the end of camp."
On the decision to carry the maximum 15 players, including two second-round picks:
"As a later second-round draft pick like (Darius) Johnson-Odom, that's the lowest number that you can be paid of anybody in the NBA. When you look at our payroll, which is approaching $100MM, as a percentage of payroll, it's really not that much. On the other hand, I don't expect ownership to expand payroll, and these contracts do have some flexibility to them in the fact that they are not guaranteed. (Sacre and Johnson-Odom) are going to have to continue to perform at a high level, but for the time being, it gives us some roster flexibility going forward."
On using the Lakers' D-League affiliate to develop Sacre and Johnson-Odom:
"I'd hope with the D-League coming up soon, we'd be able to put one or both of our second-round picks in that situation. You used to be limited to sending a player down three times, but they can go an unlimited number of times now. You could have them practice with the Lakers every day and then still have them play in every D-Fenders game. We intend to take advantage of the new rule with one or both of those players. It's a good development for us, and you're starting to see some more synergy with the D-League and the NBA."
On how the Harden trade will impact the rival Thunder:
"On the surface, the Thunder had a team that was very successful as a group, as a unit. There's a piece of that group that's moving on, so you might take something from that. At the same time, I think by adding Kevin Martin they have a piece that they can use, that's going to get minutes, and he can certainly score. They picked up a lot of (draft picks), plus a kid (Jeremy Lamb) we all liked in college. So you can argue that this year there may be a ding to their chemistry because they'd been together for three years, but Martin could fit right in and Lamb could have a (positive) impact."
On whether any Lakers stood out in training camp:
"I think you saw some flashes of good play from Jodie Meeks, both with his shooting and the other things he can do like get to the bucket to draw fouls and play defense. I think Devin Ebanks had a good preseason and continues to develop. Sacre has been a pleasant surprise. And with Antawn Jamison, I've seen no decline in his athleticism, which you wonder about when you get older guys."
The Lakers officially announced today that they've re-signed Devin Ebanks, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (via Twitter). Ebanks' re-signing had been anticipated for over a month, with the team and player waiting until after there was resolution Dwight Howard to make things official, in case the 22-year-old needed to be included in a deal as a signed-and-traded piece.
Ebanks, a restricted free agent, elected to sign his qualifying offer and return on a one-year deal worth $1,054,389, so he'll hit free agency again next summer. In 2011/12, the 6'9" forward played in 24 games, starting half of them, with averages of 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game.
In his latest NBA AM piece for HoopsWorld, Steve Kyler turns his attention away from yesterday's Olympic final in London and touches on a few NBA items of interest. Here are a few of the highlights from Kyler's piece:
Having officially acquired Dwight Howard today, the Lakers have likely made the last of their blockbuster moves in 2012. However, the team still remains active in filling out the rest of its roster. According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (Sulia link), now that the dust has settled on the Howard trade, Devin Ebanks is expected to re-sign his qualifying offer to return to the Lakers. The club also appears likely to sign unrestricted free agent Jodie Meeks, says Kyler.
The Ebanks update isn't new, as we heard last month that the 22-year-old was prepared to sign his qualifying offer to remain a Laker. The team reportedly asked him to hold off on officially signing his deal, since he potentially could have landed a larger deal as part of a sign-and-trade as a piece in a Howard trade. But now that the deal has been completed without his involvement, the path is clear for him to re-sign with L.A.
The Lakers' interest in Meeks has also been well-documented. When I examined potential free agent wings for the team, I identified the former Sixer as perhaps the best fit among the available options, given his solid outside shooting and defense. However, Meeks reportedly wasn't interested in signing for the veteran's minimum, while the Lakers weren't interested in using their $3.09MM mid-level exception, so we'll have to see if one of the sides has budged.
9:12pm: Stein says there are still unreported names in the deal, but the Magic are getting Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and a future first-round pick from each of the other three teams in the deal. The Sixers will get Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. The Nuggets will get Andre Iguodala, and the Lakers will land Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol is not in the deal, Stein hears (All Twitter links).
8:59pm: A conference call has been scheduled for Friday morning with the league office to process the deal, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).
7:29pm: Various Twitter reports indicate differing levels of confidence that the deal will get done. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com says the deal will happen "barring any last minute snag." ESPN.com colleague Ric Bucher believes the Magic and Lakers are pushing hard to complete the trade, but adds there are still many question marks. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel says the talks are serious, but cautions there are a lot of moving parts. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports "guarded optimism" about the deal.
7:11pm: The deal has "huge legs," a source tells Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com, and the teams have made progress toward its completion today, Lynam tweets.
6:55pm: A source close to Gasol says he's not in the trade, Ric Bucher of ESPN.com tweets.
6:39pm: Chris Broussard of ESPN.com hears the deal is "very close" and could take place as early as Friday morning. Broussard says that Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles also hears Gasol may not be a part of the trade. Jarrod Rudolph of RealGM.com tweets that there is greater confidence a Howard deal will get done than in the past. The Sixers are willing to take on Bynum even without assurances he'll re-sign next summer, according to the ESPN report.
6:23pm: Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld, in an updated version of an earlier story, says one of the variants of the deal doesn't include Gasol, and it's unclear whether it includes Al Harrington. Devin Ebanks, on a sign-and-trade, and Josh McRoberts may also be a part of the deal.
5:52pm: A source close to the talks tells HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy that reports so far have the teams right, but the deal would likely include different players if it gets done, as the Magic, Lakers, Nuggets and Sixers discuss multiple scenarios. No deal is imminent or near completion, the source says (Twitter links).
4:37pm: Sam Amick of SI.com confirms discussion of the trade and hears from a source with knowledge of the Rockets' latest Dwight Howard trade proposal who says it would give the Magic more assets than today's rumored four-team deal would. Andrew Bynum's agent, David Lee, says he hasn't had conversations with the Sixers or any other team about an extension for his client, Amick adds. Several other agents whose clients are said to be part of the four-teamer tell Amick they're unaware of the latest trade talks.
3:35pm: Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld hears that, while these four-team talks are ongoing, the Magic continue to discuss other Howard trade scenarios as well (Twitter link).
2:06pm: Jason Richardson is also involved in the tentative framework of the proposed trade, says Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Richardson could head to L.A. in the deal, which makes sense. He would fill the Lakers' need for a shooter, and his salary combined with Harrington's is still not close to what Gasol earns.
12:05pm: The framework of a possible deal includes Howard and Al Harrington going to the Lakers, Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets, Bynum to the Sixers, and Pau Gasol and Arron Affalo to the Magic, according to Wojnarowski. Presumably there would be a few more moving parts involved, with the Magic gaining also picks and/or cap relief. The Lakers and Nuggets, with their $13MM trade exception from this year's Nene deal, would each have room to take on an Orlando contract or two in that scenario.
Wojnarowski adds that the destinations of Bynum and Gasol in the proposed deal are still up in the air, but one would go to Orlando and one to Philadelphia. According to Wojnarowski, the Magic may feel better about flipping Gasol for another asset rather than acquiring Bynum and risking having him leave in free agency next summer.
11:45am: The Dwight Howard rumor mill has quieted down in recent weeks, but the Magic certainly don't appear to be done discussing a potential trade. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter), Orlando is engaged in four-way talks about a possible Howard blockbuster with the Lakers, Nuggets, and 76ers. Wojnarowski adds that discussions have been ongoing for a few days, and they have substance, although nothing is imminent (Twitter link).
While Howard appears open to a trade to the Lakers, it seems a straight-up deal between L.A. and Orlando will be extremely difficult, since both teams would like to shed salary, and the Lakers already traded multiple future first-round picks in order to acquire Steve Nash.
The last series of Howard rumors involved the Lakers and Magic talking to the Cavs about a deal that would send D12 to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum to Cleveland. In this case, perhaps Bynum would go to Philadelphia, with the Nuggets involved somehow to take on salary or provide picks in order to land assets in return. That's just my speculation though -- we'll have to wait for more details on exactly what's being discussed here.
While Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported yesterday that Antawn Jamison had decided to sign with the Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com that nothing was imminent on that front quite yet. If Jamison finalizes a deal with the Lakers, it may have to be for the veteran's minimum, as Kupchak confirmed to ESPNLA that the team doesn't plan to use its $3.09MM mini mid-level exception to fill out its bench. Here are a few more Lakers notes, mostly from McMenamin:
SATURDAY, 5:42pm: Ebanks has yet to sign the Lakers' qualifying offer because the team asked him to wait as he may be signed-and-traded to the Magic, reports Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (via Twitter). Once Ebanks signs, he cannot be traded until December 15.
TUESDAY, 3:59pm: Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times reports that Ebanks has agreed to accept Los Angeles' qualifying offer and will receive about $1.4MM for the coming year. As I wrote below, I believe Ebanks' qualifying offer was only worth about $1.05MM ($1,054,389). So that may be a typo on Medina's part, or Ebanks may have received a slightly larger guarantee from the Lakers.TUESDAY, 11:37am: The Lakers are expected to bring back restricted free agent Devin Ebanks on a one-year deal, reports Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld (via Twitter).
Ebanks, 22, received a qualifying offer worth about $1.05MM from the Lakers, but it's not clear whether he'd be accepting that offer or negotiating a slightly larger contract. I imagine it would be the latter, since Ebanks reportedly received interest from a handful of other teams, including the Magic, Thunder, Hawks, Sixers, and Nets.
In his second seasons with the Lakers, Ebanks played in 24 games, starting 12. The 6'9" forward averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game.