Los Angeles Lakers Rumors

Los Angeles Lakers trade, free agent, and draft rumors, updated constantly by the NBA experts at HoopsRumors.com.

Draft Notes: Hunter, Mudiay, Kaminsky

May 24 at 12:49pm CDT By Arthur Hill

Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter has the potential to be a draft steal, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Hunter is a two-time Player of the Year in the Sun Belt and played a key role in the upset of Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. He is currently ranked 21st by Chad Ford of ESPN.com and 24th by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress“Being a coach’s son and a captain alone is extra pressure,” Hunter said during the NBA Combine. “I had to learn how to react to coaching for me and my teammates. So I feel like I’m a good leader. I think I’m a proven leader.”

There’s more news as the NBA counts down to draft day:

  • The top four teams in the draft have reached out to Emmanuel Mudiay, reports Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria notes that the Knicks are expecting Mudiay to be available with pick number four, but surprises could happen in the next month to shake up the draft. Zagoria says the Wolves could be willing to trade the number one pick and the Lakers aren’t committed to drafting Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor with the second pick.
  • Frank Kaminsky is eyeing a new position when he transitions to the NBA, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders writes. “[I’m] turning myself into a four,” Kaminsky said. “In college, I played the five for so long.  I know I can play the four.  I just have to pick up the nuances. The NBA values big guys that can stretch the floor.”

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

Latest On Goran Dragic

May 24 at 11:32am CDT By Chris Crouse

Goran Dragic is a fan of coach Erik Spoelstra as well as team president Pat Riley, and the Heat’s status as the front-runner to keep him remains unchanged, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears. Jackson lists the Lakers, Knicks, Pelicans, Kings and Bucks as other teams that are expected to have interest in signing the guard.

Dragic has previously confirmed that he’ll turn down his $7.5MM player option. The Heat possess the guard’s Bird rights, meaning they can offer him a fifth year, which is reportedly something Dragic values highly. The 29-year-old has previously said the Heat meet all the criteria he’s looking for in a team from a basketball standpoint and he’s named Miami as his favorite U.S. city. Dragic wants the Heat to play much faster next season, but he’s been assured that’s a key part of Miami’s plan, a source tells Jackson.

Still, Dragic has reportedly viewed the Lakers as a “perfect fit,” so perhaps Los Angeles is Miami’s biggest threat to sign the winner of the NBA’s 2013/14 Most Improved Player award. The Knicks and Lakers, along with the Heat, were among Dragic’s preferred destinations prior to the deadline trade that sent him from Phoenix to Miami.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Porzingis, Sixers

May 22 at 10:31pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Lakers aren’t necessarily set on selecting a big man with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, which could potentially allow either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor to slip to the Knicks, who pick fourth, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com writes. This unlikely scenario would also depend on the Sixers selecting D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, instead of adding another big to go alongside Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, Begley adds.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks could also look to select forward Kristaps Porzingis, whom ESPN’s Kevin Pelton believes is a better fit for the team than Mudiay, who many mock drafts have linked to New York, Begley adds. “Having succeeded against far tougher competition in Spain, [Porzingis] figures to have more immediate impact, and he’s only seven months older than Mudiay. Also, I have some concerns about how well Mudiay — a poor shooter whose best attribute will probably be running the pick-and-roll — will fit in the triangle offense. There’s flexibility there, but a pick-and-roll-heavy style isn’t what [team president] Phil Jackson and [coach] Derek Fisher ideally want to play. I would take Porzingis,” Pelton opines.
  • The Sixers are comfortable with having the No. 3 overall pick, and believe that they can land an impact player, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “If you look at [GM] Sam Hinkie‘s draft record, you have to feel pretty good,” said Philly’s CEO Scott O’Neil. “You look at guys around the league who were drafted around there. We’ve got [Embiid] coming back. We’ve got a really improved Noel. Next year, we’ve got four first-round picks and [Dario] Saric. So you’ve got a pretty exciting story here.” Speaking of Hinkie’s draft record, you can see a full rundown of all of his past selections here.
  • Despite all of the mock drafts predicting that the Sixers will select Russell, Hinkie said the team hasn’t targeted any specific player yet, Pompey notes. “I think it’s too early now,” Hinkie said. “This time of year, everyone gets away to what one mock draft or another says. And other times, that doesn’t appear to be true very much. Let’s sort of see how things go.”

Mitch Kupchak On Kobe, Draft, Trades

May 22 at 12:28pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Kobe Bryant has signaled to Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak that the 2015/16 season will be his last as an NBA player, as the GM relayed Thursday in a radio appearance with Rick Fox and Jared Greenberg on SiriusXM NBA Radio (audio links), and as Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com passes along. Bryant hasn’t ruled out playing beyond next season, Holmes notes, and said in March that he would probably hold off on a decision until after the 2015/16 campaign is through. Still, if there’s a free agent who would hesitate to sign with the Lakers because he’s worried about the presence of Bryant for one or more seasons, that free agent “should go someplace else,” Kupchak said. The GM said on the radio with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd (audio link) that it “looks as though” the Lakers will keep the No. 2 overall pick, but he also made it clear that it’s not a foregone conclusion, as Holmes writes in a separate piece. Kupchak had much more to say in his radio spots, as Holmes transcribes. Both pieces are worth a read for Lakers diehards, but we’ll hit the highlights here:

On Kobe Bryant:

“He’s on the last year of a deal. There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don’t think there will be. He’s indicated to me that this is it. A year from now, if there’s something different to be discussed, then it will be discussed then. I talk to him from time to time … and he is recovering. He’s running. He’s getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he’s much closer to the end than to the beginning.”

On the strength of this year’s draft class:

“I do think that there are four or five players that are very, very good, and when you look back on [the draft] 10 years from now, I think they could all be All-Stars. But I don’t think there’s anybody that next year will lead a team to champagne in June. If that does happen, particularly with us, then we’ll have to get lucky in the offseason, particularly with free agency. Kobe is going to have to come back and be very healthy, which I understand he’s on track for. But I don’t think right now that there’s anybody who can make that kind of difference right away.”

On whether perimeter players have become more important than big men:

“You could argue that. The jury is still out, but you could argue that, and there’s no doubt that the game that’s being played today is very different from the game that was played eight to 10 years ago. It’s the three-point shots, the drive-and-kick [style]. Now, the teams that have had great success still have centers. San Antonio, they’ve done pretty well with a center there. Memphis has a great center. Although they didn’t advance this year, they have an excellent team. Golden State, they don’t use their center to score points, but they still have a 7-foot, 7-foot-1 guy. So you still need size in this league. You need a rim protector. A guy that takes space. A guy to pass the ball to run the offense through.”

On the value of moving up to the No. 2 pick in the lottery:

“Let’s just say there was a team that had the fifth or sixth or seventh pick, and they wanted to go to No. 2. In that area of the draft, just to move up two or three or four slots, normally, it’s hard to do. And the price that that team would pay would be high, because they’ve targeted a player that they really want. Obviously the other team would know that, and they would have to pay for that.”

Western Notes: Jordan, Lakers, Nuggets

May 21 at 10:30pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Now that the Clippers have been eliminated from the playoffs, the team needs to look toward the offseason and find a way to improve despite the franchise’s challenging salary cap situation, Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes. According to coach/executive Doc Rivers, Los Angeles’ first order of business this summer will be re-signing center DeAndre Jordan, Blinebury notes. “Our first priority is D.J.,” Rivers said. “That’s obvious. I don’t know how much I can say there. Can you tamper with your own guy? If that’s true I’m going to go tamper right now.” The Clippers will have competition for the unrestricted free agent’s services, and Jordan has already expressed through back channels that he’ll be “extremely interested” in signing with the Mavs this summer.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Nuggets are taking their time looking for a new head coach, and a decision isn’t expected for another couple weeks, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “It’s exactly how we thought it would go,” team president Josh Kroenke said. “We’ve had several conversations with a lot of people. I think that it benefits us to talk to as many people as we can. We have some people in the back of our mind that we think would be great fits. I’ve talked to enough people, and going through the process before, your coaching hire is probably going to be your hardest hire because there’s so much that goes into that role in today’s sporting industry.”
  • Kroenke also relayed that the Nuggets aren’t concerned about the length of time the coaching search has taken thus far, Dempsey adds. It’s beneficial for us on some level to be patient,” Kroenke said. “I think more candidates have opened up since the end of the season. Based on different organizations wanting to go different directions with different guys, I think there was never a time when we wanted to rush into anything. Until you have that guy that you know is the one that you want, I think it really benefits you to talk to as many people as you can. Because also during the course of these interviews you’re getting to pick some of the best basketball minds that are out there. That’s an incredible benefit to the process.
  • The Lakers aren’t 100% set on drafting either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, and the team is intrigued by D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com tweets.

Draft Notes: Okafor, BDA Sports, Vaughn

May 21 at 4:02pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Approximately 150 NBA executives and scouts are expected to be in attendance at BDA Sports Management’s pro day, which is being held today in Santa Barbara, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reports (Twitter link). Displaying their wares for the various league personnel will be 19 draft hopefuls, including Frank Kaminsky, Kelly Oubre, Robert Upshaw, and Stanley Johnson, Givony notes. There will also be six free agents performing, including Andre Dawkins, Al Thornton, and Drew Gordon, the DraftExpress scribe adds.

Here’s more draft related news:

  • Jahlil Okafor downplayed the recent reports that he doesn’t want to play for the Timberwolves, Andy Greder of The Pioneer Press relays. Just for clarification I made this comment prior to the lottery,” Okafor tweeted. “I’ve never been the type to talk myself up.”
  • Givony released his full prospect profile and video breakdown for UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, whom DraftExpress ranks as the 45th best prospect in the 2015 NBA Draft. Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) thinks a bit more highly of the 18-year-old, slotting him as the No. 23 overall player.
  • With the NBA Draft lottery now complete teams will now focus on determining which players are worthy of being selected within the top 14 picks. Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report breaks down each of the players expected to be off the board by pick No. 15.
  • Sixers GM Sam Hinkie noted that he never expected to receive the Lakers‘ 2015 first-rounder, which would have conveyed to Philadelphia if it fell outside of the top five, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “I said the day we traded for the Lakers pick, we anticipated they’d get a top-three pick. And they did. Good for them. … We never anticipated we’d get the Lakers’ pick this year. We all get to a night like this and we can all dream about our 17 percent, but we never anticipated we’d get the Lakers pick this year,” said Hinkie.

Lakers, Celtics, Pistons Eye DeMarre Carroll

May 21 at 1:59pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Lakers have major interest in soon-to-be free agent DeMarre Carroll, a source tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who adds the Celtics and the Pistons to the list of teams interested in the vastly improved small forward. Carroll went down with a left knee injury Wednesday during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but an MRI revealed only a sprain, the team announced via press release, listing him as questionable for Game 2.

An executive who spoke recently with Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops estimated Carroll’s next annual salary will be around $8-9MM, a giant leap from his pay of little more than $2.442MM this season. The Hawks would like to re-sign Carroll, Deveney writes, but they only have Early Bird rights on him, meaning they’d have to use cap space to give him a starting salary of any more than about $6MM. Atlanta has the cap flexibility to pay him $8-9MM next year, as do the Lakers, Celtics and Pistons, but the Hawks won’t have the chance to give him a five-year contract or 7.5% raises as they could with full Bird rights, which would have given Atlanta a leg up on other teams.

Carroll, when prompted last month, said he’d be interested in the Knicks, though more recently he made it clear that he places a high value on player development, a strength of the Hawks franchise. The former 27th overall pick bounced around to four teams in his first four NBA seasons before becoming a standout three-point shooter with the Hawks. He nailed 39.5% of his attempts from behind the arc this season, a career high.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Divac, Draft, Warriors

May 21 at 12:01pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Lakers will look at D’Angelo Russell for the No. 2 overall pick, but preliminary indications are that they’ll take either Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, depending on which one of those two is left after the Timberwolves pick, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times hears. Trading the pick is also an option, GM Mitch Kupchak says, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News tweets. In any case, the choices at No. 2 are a bit better than the Lakers would have had if the lottery had gone according to form and the team had ended up with the fourth pick. Here’s more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings president of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac said his team should be open to trading its draft pick, but in comments that Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays, he distanced himself from the mechanics of any such move. “I’m leaving that to my basketball people,” Divac said. It’s an odd statement from the team’s top basketball executive. In any case, Chad Ford of ESPN.com identified the Kings, who pick sixth, among the teams most likely to trade their top-10 pick, along with the Magic, Pistons, Heat and Hornets, as Ford wrote in a chat with readers.
  • The Kings and the Pacers are the teams with the most interest in Willie Cauley-Stein, Ford adds in the same piece.
  • Andrew Bogut is a fan of the way Steve Kerr handles his assistant coaches, as the big man tells Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group a year after assistant coaches were squarely in the spotlight for Golden State. The departures of assistants Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman from the Warriors bench last year were symbolic of the tumult near the end of Mark Jackson‘s time as Warriors coach. “In their own way, they all have free reign,” Bogut said of Kerr’s staff. “You see them talk to the media, which is something that wasn’t happening with us the last couple of years. There’s no agendas where a coach thinks, ‘Oh, he’s doing extra workouts with this guy, he’s trying to take my job, or vice-versa, or he’s trying to get himself a head-coaching job.’ We don’t have any of that. We have guys that say something when they need to say something and to be professional throughout.”

Draft Notes: Okafor, Upshaw, Vezenkov

May 20 at 9:56pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Duke center Jahlil Okafor is more concerned about finding the right fit than what draft spot he is selected at, Ian Begley of ESPN.com relays. “I don’t know that I should go No. 1,” Okafor said to SI Now’s Maggie Gray. “I don’t care. I just want to go to the right environment for me and the right team. I think the hype about No. 1 is more for the fans.” With the recent report that Okafor prefers to go to the Lakers rather than the Wolves, Okafor’s statement could potentially be construed as the player angling to be bypassed by Minnesota in June’s draft in favor of Los Angeles, who holds the No. 2 overall pick, though that is merely my speculation.

Here’s the latest regarding the 2015 NBA Draft:

  • Big man Robert Upshaw has a wealth of potential, but him having been dismissed from two college teams due to substance abuse issues has put a damper on his draft stock, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes in his profile of the player. Upshaw is currently ranked as the No. 29 overall prospect by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) places him 38th.
  • Early second-round prospect Aleksandar Vezenkov, who is expected to withdraw from this year’s draft, is garnering interest from a number of European teams, Vezenkov’s agent Nick Lotsos told Sportal.bg (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). “So far some teams showed interest in Vezenkov but there are no concrete proposals yet. We are not in a hurry to decide the future. We’ll consider carefully what is the best for him to develop as a player. Barcelona? It is one of the teams interested and Aleksandar is interested as well, but as I’ve said it is too early,” Lotsos relayed.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com looked at a number of players, including Jerian Grant, Kristaps Porzingis, and Willie Cauley-Stein, who have improved their draft stock over the past year.
  • Draft prospect George Lucas, who is also known as George de Paula, said the hardest part of the draft combine was the interviews since he is still learning English, Kennedy writes in his profile of the player. “The language is the most hard,” Lucas said. “I’m trying to learn English the best that I can, so it’s a long process for me and I’m trying to communicate with other people. I’ve always had an English class since high school, but I haven’t had a lot of conversations with other people.”

Pacific Notes: Hill, Kings, Kerr, Lakers

May 20 at 8:00pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

The Lakers landing the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft lottery could spell the end for center Jordan Hill in Los Angeles, Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times writes. With the Lakers expected to select either Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor, coupled with Hill’s team option for 2015/16 worth $9MM, the franchise could find the veteran big man expendable, especially if it wishes to land a max level free agent this offseason, Pincus adds. The 27-year-old appeared in 70 games this past season, averaging 12.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in 26.8 minutes per contest.

Here’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Despite the Kings not moving up in the draft lottery, team executive Vlade Divac believes the team can turn the No. 6 overall pick into an asset, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. “We have some options,” Divac said. “I think this class of rookies are very strong. We should be able to get someone who can help us next year.” This could also include the team dealing the pick, Jones adds. “I think we should be very open,” Divac said regarding a potential trade. “Our goal is we want to improve next year. We want to be much, much better.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr downplayed his role in the team winning a franchise best 67 games, and said that he simply joined the organization at the best possible time, Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle writes. “I can’t say I expected it but I knew it was a possibility,” said Kerr, referring to the team’s success this season. “It was one of the reasons I took the job. The team has great talent; they were on the rise already. And I felt like we could make improvement and that we would be right in the thick of it in the West. … I probably took over the team at the ideal time. They were good but very hungry.
  • The Lakers securing the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft has made the franchise much more attractive to free agents who are on the market this summer, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. “I think it is something that helps out their sales pitch in a big, big way,” one agent told Deveney. “The past couple of years, their pitch has sort of been, ‘Come play for us because we’re the Lakers and the weather is nice.’ That’s not enough. You’ve seen that. They have not had a direction, and that’s why players don’t want to go there.