Anthony Davis

L.A. Notes: Clippers Preview, Coffey, George, Lakers, AD

John Hollinger of The Athletic previews the Clippers for the 2022/23 season, writing that with the league’s deepest roster and stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back and healthy, they should be among the best teams in the league. Hollinger predicts the Clippers will go 54-28 and finish as the No. 1 seed in the West, but thinks the Warriors have a better shot of making the NBA Finals.

There are a couple of question marks on the roster, even though it’s very deep, especially on the wing. According to Hollinger, the Clips need either John Wall and/or Norman Powell need to step up and be a “third star” to complement Leonard and George, with shot creation and getting to the free throw line top priorities.

The other weakness of the roster is center, with only Ivica Zubac as a true five on the 15-man roster. Hollinger thinks it might be a tall order to have Robert Covington play full-time backup center in the regular season, and wonders if the team might use its last standard roster spot on a traditional center.

Here’s more on the two Los Angeles teams:

  • Amir Coffey, a Minnesota native who played college ball for the Golden Gophers, says he fulfilled a lifelong dream by signing a three-year, $11MM contract as a restricted free agent. “It’s a dream come true,” Coffey told Marcus Fuller of The Star Tribune. “Just playing in the league and doing something I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid. Just putting all that work in and having it pay off is a good feeling.” Coffey had a breakout third season in ’21/22 after spending the bulk of his career on two-way deals, averaging 9.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.8 on .453/.378/.863 shooting in 69 games (30 starts, 22.7 MPG).
  • George recently sat down for an interview with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (video link) and the two discussed a number of topics, including joining forces with Leonard, his health, leadership, recruiting Wall, and more.
  • The Lakers started Patrick Beverley and Austin Reaves in place of Kendrick Nunn and Damian Jones during Wednesday’s preseason game against Phoenix as coach Darvin Ham was taking a look at a small-ball lineup, tweets Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Star Anthony Davis sat out the game for “precautionary” reasons due to lower back tightness, Goon notes (via Twitter).

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Ham, Davis, Ryan

Hours after the release of a story revealing how close he came to being traded to the Pacers, Russell Westbrook was in the Lakers‘ starting lineup Monday night for their preseason opener, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Woike confirms that the team has been considering trades for the embattled guard all summer, but it’s not willing to part with unprotected first-round picks in both 2027 and 2029.

Speaking after Monday’s game, Westbrook sounded ready to accept his future, whether it’s with the Lakers or another team.

“I’m super blessed and thankful for what I have and what I’ve been given,” he said. “I’ve got an unbelievable support system, family, leaning on my faith. Everything else will take care of itself. So, all summer, my whole life, I’ve been hearing the stories about myself. That’s not going to change today. So, nothing new for me. I’m going to continue to keep my head down, focus on competing. And everything else will take care of itself.”

Amid the offseason trade talks, the Lakers have been publicly supportive of Westbrook as he enters his second season with the organization. New head coach Darvin Ham said Westbrook has been doing everything he’s asked to in practice, including finding ways to contribute without the ball in his hands.

“Any outside noise, that’s par for the course,” Ham said. “I mean, it comes with the business. But he’s a Los Angeles Laker, the last time I checked. And I’m really not mad at that. And he showed tonight, like, he’s gonna thrive in this system.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Ham made his head coaching debut Monday, and it came against one of his mentors, who was also coaching his new team for the first time, notes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Kings coach Mike Brown gave Ham his first coaching opportunity, hiring him as an assistant on his staff with the Lakers in 2011. “Throw the coaching out and the other stuff, a fantastic human being that deserves a chance and I’m glad he got a chance,” Brown said. “The Lakers gave him an opportunity and knowing him, he’s going to fight, claw, do whatever he needs to do to make this thing right for him, his family, the organization and the city.”
  • Ham sees a healthy season from Anthony Davis as vital to making the Lakers a playoff team again, tweets Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Injuries have limited Davis to 36 and 40 games the past two seasons. “None of this works if he’s not available and he’s not hitting on all cylinders,” Ham said. “He’s a big piece. The biggest piece of our success.”
  • In a separate story, Lakers camp invitee Matt Ryan talks to Woike about the unusual preparations he had to take to get ready for the NBA after COVID-19 interrupted his final season in college.

Lakers Notes: Ham, Davis, LeBron, Westbrook, D. Jones

Last year’s disappointment for the Lakers began with an 0-6 preseason, and new coach Darvin Ham wants his team to be focused from the start, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Anthony Davis agrees, citing the need to quickly build continuity after an offseason filled with change.

“I think our team got put together a little later than most teams,” Davis said. “New coach. New system. So we’re kind of behind the eight ball, and we’re trying to speed that process up by doing it the right way. Not by skipping steps. And we’ve been doing that. We’ve been having competitive practices, getting up and down. We’re locking in on our stations on offense and defense, and it’s been good.”

Although Ham wants to start winning right away, he hasn’t decided if Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will play against the Kings in Monday’s preseason opener.

“I mean, if possible, yeah,” Ham said when asked about their status. “We’re gonna sit down (Sunday) as a staff and talk about what the rotation is gonna look like on Monday. But definitely. Definitely.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Free agent addition Damian Jones has only attempted 43 three-point shots in six NBA seasons, but Ham believes he can develop into a reliable long-range shooter, Buha states in the same piece. If Jones does pose an outside shooting threat, it would solve some of the spacing issues for L.A.’s potential starting lineup. “If I’m open and I’m in the corner and they pass it to me, I’m shooting it,” he said. “I’m comfortable shooting there. I’ve been getting a lot of reps in. Throughout the years, my percentages have been getting better as I’m shooting them. So, it’s good.”
  • Lonnie Walker, who has been dealing with an ankle issue, was a full participant in today’s practice, Buha adds. Troy Brown is expected to return to full contact in about a week, and newly signed Dennis Schröder will join the team in a few days.
  • Davis, James and Westbrook want to prove they can co-exist after playing just 21 games together last season, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Ham has installed a new approach to try to make their partnership work. “We have a three-man package, actually a play call, that they’re going thrive in and it involves all three of them,” he said. “I look forward to that being at a very, very high level. And there’s different nuances in it that they can play around with. … I trust all three of those guys.”

California Notes: Lakers, LeBron, Hield, Turner, Klay, DiVincenzo, Mitchell

While it’s still early in training camp, Lakers first-year coach Darvin Ham revealed a surprise starting lineup he’s been using in practices, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. The group around Anthony Davis and LeBron James includes Russell Westbrook, Damian Jones and Kendrick Nunn. Westbrook has heard his name mentioned often in trade rumors, Jones has never been a regular starter in the league, and Nunn missed all of last season due to injury.

James plans to play more often this preseason, when he only saw action in two games, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

We have more from the California teams:

  • The Pacers would almost certainly trade Buddy Hield and Myles Turner to the Lakers if Los Angeles is willing to include its 2027 and 2029 first-rounders without any protections, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on the Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). “My best intel right now is if the Lakers called Indiana right now and said ‘Both picks unprotected,’ the Pacers would do that deal, would probably do that deal.”
  • Klay Thompson was held out of playing in Tokyo this week because he didn’t do any scrimmaging this offseason after the Warriors won the title, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “I didn’t play much this summer,” Thompson said. “With what I went through the last summer, I was healthy, popping my Achilles, it was really hard for me to get out of it, mentally. It’s hard to explain. It’s a mental block or something.”
  • During the preseason opener in Tokyo, Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo played 17 minutes off the bench, contributing nine points, seven rebounds and two assists. He also didn’t commit any fouls or turnovers. Those types of contributions are why the Warriors added him, Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. DiVincenzo signed a two-year, $9.3MM contract early in free agency.
  • Davion Mitchell‘s defensive prowess, paired with his budding talent as a creator, could lead to a breakout season for the Kings’ second-year guard, Ethan Fuller of Basketball News writes.

Pacific Notes: A. Davis, McNair, Clippers, Warriors

After being limited to just 76 in the last two seasons, Anthony Davis is determined to have a healthier year in 2022/23. Speaking to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, The Lakers star said he’s so excited for the coming season that he has “goosebumps,” adding that he’s “looking forward to a healthy year.”

“I went into this summer focusing on strengthening my body,” Davis told Haynes. “I have to be on the court and at my best to put us in position to be our best. I’m ready to do that.”

Davis has played more than 70 regular season games just twice in his 10-year career, so the Lakers would likely be thrilled to see him surpass that benchmark. However, the eight-time All-Star told reporters this week that he has loftier expectations for himself.

“I want to be able to play all 82 (games),” Davis said, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “And if I’m not, I don’t want it to be injury-based where I can’t play. That’s my goal. The more I’m on the floor, the more I can help my team and its chance of winning when I’m playing.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • With Monte McNair entering the final year of his contract, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive said on Wednesday that he’s happy with the job the general manager has done, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, the two sides have been “too focused on the season” to discuss a possible contract extension, according to Ranadive. “Monte, (assistant GM) Wes (Wilcox), the whole front office, the coaches they hired, the coaching staff, the process they went through, the trades they made, the rookie they picked, I’m very pleased with everything that’s happened,” Ranadive said. “I think right now the focus is: Let’s win.”
  • The Clippers are taking a cautious approach this preseason with a handful of veteran players, with head coach Tyronn Lue announcing on Thursday that Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, and Reggie Jackson won’t play in the team’s preseason opener in Seattle on Friday (Twitter link via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times). The Warriors are going the same route with Klay Thompson, holding him out of the club’s two preseason contests in Japan, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • The Warriors‘ preseason opener on Friday showed the new simplified offensive role the team envisions for center James Wiseman, who was primarily used as a slasher and roller en route to a 20-point, eight-rebound game, Slater writes for The Athletic.
  • Logan Murdock of The Ringer takes a look at the Warriors‘ efforts to balance their title defense in the short term with their vision of the franchise in the long term.

Pacific Notes: Suns, Sarver, Lakers, Davis, J. Green, Ballmer

After handing Robert Sarver a one-year suspension and a $10MM fine following the investigation into the Suns owner’s workplace misconduct, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told some concerned players that he considered having the league’s Board of Governors vote on Sarver’s fate, but had some legal concerns about the process, report Baxter Holmes and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Insider link). Instead, Silver repeatedly spoke directly to Sarver in an effort to encourage him to sell the franchise.

As Holmes and Shelburne outline, Sarver was upset by his punishment and questioned why it was more severe than the one Mark Cuban received following an investigation into the Mavericks’ front office in 2018. Silver explained that the differences stemmed from the fact that Cuban wasn’t accused of misconduct himself.

While persistent nudging from Silver may not have been enough on its own to convince Sarver to sell, the Suns were facing the prospect of losing several key sponsors if he remained on as the team’s owner. Sources tell Holmes and Shelburne that nearly 30 sponsors are up for renewal after the coming season, including PayPal, which issued a statement calling for Sarver’s removal. There were indications that many companies would follow PayPal’s lead and put out similar statements.

“The walls were closing in on (Sarver),” a source close to the process told ESPN. “A group of sponsors were all moving towards this common position.”

After Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported last week that a “high-end estimate” for the sale price of the Suns could be $3 billion or more, ESPN’s duo is hearing the same thing. Multiple sources who spoke to Holmes and Shelburne, noting that the NBA has rebounded well from the impact of COVID-19 and has a new TV deal around the corner, predicted that the franchise could sell for more than $3 billion.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • As he preaches defensive effort and intensity to his new team, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said on Tuesday that he likes the fact that multiple starting lineup spots are for grabs in training camp, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are locked in as starters and Russell Westbrook will “absolutely” join them if he shows the effort Ham is looking for on defense, but that would still leave two spots open. “I think it adds a little spice to camp, and LeBron and AD, they are who they are, as well as Russ, those guys are going to go at them,” Ham said. “That’s only going to make everybody better. It’s a controlled competitive environment.”
  • Davis told reporters on Wednesday that he was affected last season by a wrist injury that he suffered in January, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The Lakers‘ big man added that it’s not an excuse for his poor three-point shooting (18.6%), but that it affected the follow-through on his shot.
  • According to head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors viewed JaMychal Green as a “critical” offseason addition because he adds some much-needed veteran experience to a young bench. Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area has the story.
  • Steve Ballmer of the Clippers remains the richest owner in sports, according to a report from Forbes, which estimates Ballmer’s net worth at $83 billion. Robert Pera of the Grizzlies ($17.6 billion) and Dan Gilbert of the Cavaliers ($17.3 billion) are the other NBA owners who rank in Forbes’ top 10.

Western Notes: Davis, Johnson, Murray, Paschall, Kings

The Lakers enter the season without the pressure of being one of the favorites to win the championship. Anthony Davis relishes being in that position, he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“We’re treating this season like we have a chip on our shoulder. We’re the underdogs,” Davis said. “Obviously, the world is looking to see what we do. But … they’re not talking about us, and that’s fine. You know, we’d rather be under the radar.”

We have more from the Western Division:

  • Keldon Johnson suffered a separated shoulder this month but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expects him to return by opening night, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. Pop anticipates Johnson will return “four or five days” before the opener, adding “I think he will be fine.”
  • Jamal Murray has his “swagger” back, according to Nuggets coach Michael Malone, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Murray spent last season rehabbing from a knee injury. “He looks really good,” Malone said. “The thing I look for, obviously, is how confident is he? He’s out there playing. I don’t see him thinking about anything. He’s just playing the game.”
  • Eric Paschall pondered retirement this summer before signing a two-way contract with the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Donovan Mitchell, his former teammate in Utah, gave him steady encouragement through the process.
  • New Kings coach Mike Brown wants to play with pace and he believes there’s enough shooting around their dynamic point man to aid that cause, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. “We want to play fast and give (De’Aaron Fox) an opportunity to get downhill,” Brown said. “If we’re asking Fox to get downhill, he needs space to do it. In order to create space around him, you need shooters. When you’re talking about Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, Terence Davis, Trey Lyles, you’re talking about some high-level shooters.”

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Ham, Davis, Westbrook

When LeBron James and agent Rich Paul met last week with Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and coach Darvin Ham, a possible contract extension for James was only one of many topics of conversation, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

As Haynes details, most of the hour-long meeting was spent discussing strategies and expressing opinions about how to ensure that the 2022/23 season won’t be a repeat of the Lakers’ disappointing ’21/22 campaign.

Sources tell Yahoo Sports that LeBron “drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion.” James wants to be sure that this season’s team competes and gives itself a chance to win every night, which wasn’t the case last year.

According to Haynes, Ham agreed with James’ assessment and vowed to hold players accountable and “foster an atmosphere of selflessness.” The Lakers’ new head coach wants to see the team recommit to playing strong defense and suggested that any players who are hesitant to play the roles asked of them will run the risk of being removed from the game, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Here’s more on the Lakers from Haynes:

  • Ham wants to run Los Angeles’ offense through Anthony Davis, and James is on board with that plan. The club likes what it has seen from Davis this summer and believes he’s well positioned to take on a significant workload and stay healthy in 2022/23, Haynes notes.
  • Pelinka plans to exercise patience when it comes to roster moves, preferring to assess how the current group performs before doing anything drastic, Haynes says. Of course, I suspect the club would still be willing to move Russell Westbrook before the season if a favorable deal arises.
  • Speaking of Westbrook, Haynes indicates the Lakers are hopeful that he’ll be able to increase his three-point percentage from the corners in 2022/23.
  • In an effort to build rapport with his teammates, James will decide on a destination to hold the Lakers’ annual mini-camp prior to training camp, with San Diego emerging as the most likely landing spot, according to Haynes.
  • During last week’s meeting, Pelinka made it clear he wants to see LeBron retire as a Laker and vowed he’ll provide the resources necessary for James to compete for titles for as long as the future Hall of Famer remains in L.A., per Haynes.

LeBron, Westbrook, AD Vow To Stay On Same Page

Lakers stars LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis renewed their commitment to one another and their goal to win a championship together in a phone conversation during the first weekend of the Las Vegas Summer League, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports.

The conversation was organized to make sure all three were on the same page as long as they’re still wearing the Lakers uniform. Eyebrows were raised when James and Westbrook seemingly ignored each other during the Laker’s first Summer League contest.

Westbrook, who opted in for final year of his contract at a $47MM pricetag, has never requested a trade from the Lakers, according to Haynes’ sources.

Westbrook’s name has remained in the rumor mill this summer, particular as a potential trade piece for Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The trade chatter has seemingly intensified since Westbrook and his longtime agent parted ways last week.

Lakers Notes: Ham, James, Westbrook, Pippen Jr., Pacers, Davis

New Lakers coach Darvin Ham declared his “love’ for the current roster during halftime of the team’s 104-84 summer league loss to the Suns, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. Rumors persist that Kyrie Irving‘s most likely destination if he’s traded is Los Angeles.

“We love everyone on our roster,” Ham said. “And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours and we’re going to try to get better with the group that we have. That’s just the bottom line of it. I don’t know a player that’s come through this league in my 26 years that hasn’t had their name part of a trade rumor a time or two.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Russell Westbrook offered some ball-handling advice to rookie Scotty Pippen Jr., who signed a two-way contract . Pippen had a team-high 19 points but also five turnovers. “He gave me some pointers and I ended up using them,” Pippen said.
  • Westbrook and LeBron James didn’t exactly act like bosom buddies while watching the game, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. They sat in opposite corners of the Thomas & Mack Center and made no public acknowledgment of one another before Westbrook left the exhibition at halftime.
  • GM Rob Pelinka foreshadowed at least one big move to come while speaking on the NBA TV broadcast, Goon relays. “We’re not done,” Pelinka said. “We still have more work to do.” The Lakers have an open roster spot.
  • The Lakers tried in vain to engineer a multi-player trade with the Pacers, McMenamin said on ESPN (video link). McMenamin said “those talks basically went nowhere” because the Lakers’ offer wasn’t strong enough. McMenamin didn’t elaborate on what players were discussed, though it’s fair to speculate they might have either been targeting Myles Turner or Buddy Hield, who nearly got dealt to the Lakers last offseason.
  • In a wide ranging interview with Andscape’s Marc J. Spears, Ham hinted that Anthony Davis is the key to the team’s success. “With AD, I would say he’s the biggest factor,” Ham said. “I’m looking forward to him having a huge year this year. I know the way we’re going to play is going to benefit him. The way I’m going to take care of him, make sure we take care of him, it’s going to benefit him.”